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Isolation 101

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Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid traveller, rescue dog mama and advocate of kindness and community.

You can read a recent story featuring Ilan that was published in the Globe and Mail on April 27, 2020. Wath this recent video story featuring Ilan and this topic on Global TV Edmonton.

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Original article follows

Isolation has been a predicted social epidemic for a while now. Younger generations don’t know a world before apps and social networks, and our large population of beloved boomers will face increasing challenges of loss and solitude. Then last week happened.

I have had this itchy need to write something about this for a while, but now it is impossible to ignore. The things I write often demand to be let out. I didn’t want to seem like a doom spreader, because I’m actually an optimistic realist, and I know nobody wants just another seemingly negative thing in their feed.

However, I feel uniquely qualified to express this.

I cannot deny I have a blessed life. I have a roof over my head, a successful business (for now), two quirky pets, good friends and a loving family, but I am alone most of the time. Solo entrepreneurship and, let’s call them ‘a series of unfortunate events’, led me to being alone more since last summer than I have ever been. For the first time ever, I felt the negative effects of it.

It’s been awful.

I’ve always been a lone wolf, fiercely independent, and comfortable in my own company. I felt I was prepared to handle whatever came my way. With all of its ups and downs, I thought I was as likely as anyone else to continue to handle life’s many lessons. I’m a strong person. I’m resilient. I’m a fighter.

I was wrong.

Like all things, dealing with a challenge is a process. The pity party portion of the program lasted four months. I spent most of that time alone. I focused on the things knew how to do, like running my business, but there were also some pretty major changes in the workisphere, and even that didn’t feel familiar.

“…In the midst of this, I experienced something else. A peripheral ‘noise’ detox of sorts…”

Around Christmas I hit my breaking point. I usually love getting together with friends, sharing the fudge I make, exchanging gifts, and spreading the cheer and joy of the season, but aside from a few people who lovingly stood by me and knew what I was going through, I suffered mostly in silence.

Many of the people usually present in my life were not there. To be fair, some of them died, which were some of the unfortunate events. Other people I care about were also struggling, for which I have endless compassion. Some just disappeared. I still have two undelivered Christmas gifts in my closet, lovingly tagged for close friends I haven’t seen in months. I hope I will still get the chance to give them. It has been a very unusual time.

The pity party involved endless tears, wine, unspeakable sadness and a trip into a place I didn’t like. A place of agonizing isolation.  The second phase of the process is still ongoing. It involves accepting the friendship of those who still choose to be in my life, guitar lessons, long overdue trauma counselling for my chronic pain, yoga, group training sessions, eating better, reading more, and no wine. I even saw a medium. Apparently, even in isolation, I’m not idle.

In the midst of this, I experienced something else. A peripheral ‘noise’ detox of sorts. It gets really strange when things grind to a halt. I describe it as what I imagine it might feel like to blaze through the earth’s atmosphere as a meteor. You feel hot, and it’s like you’re about to explode, or implode, or both. It is a fiery ball of chaos, until you break through. It feels foreign to shed the ‘too much of everything’ our world constantly throws at us. The cycle of too many meetings, phone calls, deadlines, texts and commitments. Take solace in this pause. I actually think that part is healthy. Once the detox is done, I promise it feels better.

“…My advice is to be kind with other people’s pain and struggles…”

The reason I’m writing this now is I feel a strange sense of community forming around the isolation that is being imposed on the collective “us.” I’ve lived alone and worked alone for many of my 18 years as an entrepreneur, but this recent experience has been different. It has gutted me, tested me, and brought me to my knees. It made me dig deep inside for the strength to get up. My mum says, “you’re like me. We get knocked down, but we get back up again.” I hope she’s right. I think she’s right. I’m trying.

This has not been easy. It’s not comfortable to admit things like, I’m hurting, I’m struggling, I’m lonely. I need help. I’ve found expressing this kind of truth doesn’t sit well with most other people. There have been a lot of blank stares, interjections that it can’t be that bad, some unreturned phone calls, and texts that went into the abyss.

Being alone can be wonderful, but being lonely is another thing. It can be devastating. I fear many more people will soon understand how it feels and that worries me. I want others to be okay, so maybe I can help, even just a little. My advice is even if you’re struggling and even if at first people don’t seem to understand, don’t let go of the ones you care about. Let them stay tethered to you. We need each other. Don’t let someone else’s struggle make you walk away.

I believe we are inherently social beings. We gravitate towards love, laughter, joy, congregation, sharing and caring for one another. The obstacles currently in our way are not going to make us feel good. It’s going to be really tough, but we can take some comfort in knowing we are all in it together.

My advice is to be kind with other people’s pain and struggles. We do not know how a situation or circumstances may impact an individual. Don’t try to explain away someone’s reality as unimportant. If you don’t know how to respond, just say “I’m here for you,” “I care about you,” “you are important to me,” or “I love you.” If you can’t ask “what can I do to help?” because you have nothing left to give, that’s okay. Be honest and communicate. Don’t just walk away. We need each other now more than ever.

So, from my isolated little world to yours, I’m still here. I’m here for myself, but I can also be here for other people too. I can still do that. I want to do that. If isolation gets you down, don’t stop telling people how you’re feeling and don’t stop checking in on others. Rely on the people who want to be there for you. I promise there are people who do.

This story was published originally on March 18th, 2020.

photo of Ilan Cooley

Ilan Cooley is an Edmonton based entrepreneur and writer. She is a an avid traveller, rescue dog mama and advocate of kindness and community.

Listen: Ryan Jespersen, Lynda Steele, J’Lyn Nye are joined by writer Ilan Cooley: The Untold Toll of Online Trolls

 

Central Alberta

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre 50/50 Cash Lottery is Back!

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The highly anticipated Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre 50/50 Cash Lottery is back with even more chances to win!

This year, the jackpot is set to $400,000, with the winner taking home half! Plus, the Central Alberta CAC has added an additional early bird drawing, bringing the early bird prize total to four all-cash prizes of $1,000, drawn weekly in December. All in if purchased before the first Early Bird deadline, entrants have 4 chances at $1,000 dollars, PLUS a chance at the Grand Prize Draw with a sell-out take-home winnings of $200,000!. Tickets start at just $10.

Early Bird Deadlines: December 2, 9, 16, 23.

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s 50/50 Cash Lottery raises much-needed funds to support their services and programs; supporting our community’s most vulnerable. Each year, the Centre supports hundreds of children from across Central Alberta who have experienced abuse. The Central Alberta CAC provides a safe space for these children, a place with the goal for a child to only have to share their story once – eliminating the chance of revictimization and helping them through their journey of healing one step at a time.

Mark Jones, the CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, is once again thanking Albertans for their generosity, and for facilitating strong partnerships over the years.

“Through the Loyalty campaign, we’ve been able to raise over $100,000 already! The success of last years’ lottery allowed us to help more children and families from across Central Alberta. To date, we’ve helped nearly 1800 children, and our advocacy team has worked tirelessly to protect and support the youths that come forward. From disclosure to triage and court appearances, our advocacy team has been working around the clock. This year has been especially difficult, with October and November being some of the busiest months with the most extreme and complex cases we have yet to see. So, we hope people will consider buying a ticket to help us help these kids.” – Mark Jones, CEO

Tickets are available online at www.cacac5050.ca and will be emailed to the purchaser. You can also call the Centre directly to purchase tickets at 587-272-2233. Lottery license number: 578482.

The CACAC 50/50 Cash Lottery final deadline is February 4th, 2022 at 11:00pm and the draw will take place on February 10th, 2021 at 11:00am.

Together, we can end child abuse. Purchase your ticket today to support the CACAC and the children of our community.

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is also looking for opportunities to sell their 50/50 Cash Lottery Tickets on location. If you have an event or location you would like to host the CACAC at, please contact Jodie at [email protected] or call 587-272-2233.

 

About CACAC: The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is a not-for-profit organization rooted in the protection and recovery of today’s most innocent and vulnerable – our children. The Centre is comprised of a collective that is driven by the courage to support children, youth, and their families affected by abuse, enabling them to build enduring strength and overcome adversity.

We work in a collaborative partnership with the Central Region Children’s Services, Alberta Health Services, Alberta Justice, Alberta Education, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre and the RCMP. Together we harness our collective courage to provide children with supported recovery.

For more information on CACAC, please visit: centralalbertacac.ca

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Community

NDP calls for social media watchdog as scrutiny of Facebook heats up

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OTTAWA — New Democrats are demanding the federal government crack down on social media giants following recent revelations by a Facebook executive that have rekindled questions around how to regulate big tech.

NDP MP Charlie Angus called on Ottawa to establish an independent watchdog to address disinformation, hateful posts and algorithm transparency on digital platforms.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before a U.S. Senate committee earlier this month that the company’s products harm children and fuel polarization in the U.S., a claim supported by internal company research leaked to the Wall Street Journal.

“Ms. Haugen reveals that Facebook knew that its algorithms are driving hate content and leading to breakdown in civic engagement,” Angus said.

“Facebook made the decision to incentivize profits through its use of its algorithms over the well-being of its users.”

As the company confronts intense public scrutiny over how its coding fans inflammatory rhetoric and affects users’ self-esteem, Angus is proposing to create an independent ombudsman accountable to the House of Commons, akin to Canada’s ethics and privacy commissioners.

“Rather than relying on outdated institutions like the Competition Bureau or the CRTC, it’s time for the federal government to establish a regulator that actually understands this file,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made several pledges to overhaul internet rules in last month’s federal election.

One promised to introduce legislation within 100 days of forming government that combats harmful online materials, following the failure of a Liberal bill aiming to regulate Facebook and other platforms.

The plan would create a digital safety commissioner to enforce a new regime that targets child pornography, terrorist content, hate speech and other harmful posts on social media platforms. The regulator’s teeth would be sharp enough to order social media companies to take down posts within 24 hours.

Many large platforms already have policies that claim to meet or exceed these requirements, with some seeking to highlight or remove misleading information — about COVID-19 vaccines, for example.

New Democrats and Conservatives have also questioned why a new regulator is needed to crack down on exploitive material when the Criminal Code already bars child pornography, hate speech and the knowing distribution of illicit images.

Trudeau has further said he would reintroduce provisions of Bill C-10, which died in the Senate in August after the election was triggered. The legislation sought to bring global online streaming giants such as Netflix and YouTube under the auspices of the Broadcasting Act, requiring them to promote Canadian content and financially support Canadian cultural industries. The regime is overseen by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Angus said Monday that the bill amounted to a “political dumpster fire” and that having Canada’s telecommunications regulator address Facebook algorithms would bring “a 1980s solution to a 21st-century problem.”

The legislation provoked months of debate over whether its regulation of online videos amounted to government overreach, with free speech advocates criticizing the bill and the arts community supporting it.

“I think it’s probably better for us to establish a stand-alone officer of Parliament — who reports to Parliament, who understands tech, who understands algorithms — than to turn it over to the schlimazel that is the CRTC,” Angus said, adding that Bill C-10 included “good ideas” around applying broadcast rules for funding to big tech.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

In an emailed statement last week, Facebook Canada said it continues make investments that target misinformation and harmful content.

“Canadians come to Facebook to connect with their loved ones, grow their businesses and share what matters to them,” the company wrote.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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