A rather Canadian Twitter spat has been causing a stir for its determined niceness. I fear we are in danger of losing the wilder pleasures of life
A conversational snippet titled When Canadians fight on Twitter has been doing the rounds, screenshotted by alert Texan @JoParkerBear. A Trump-tired American @KalmarSheryl tweeted desperately, I wish we had a Justin Trudeau to come and rescue us from 45. She was really throwing down the gauntlet because Canadians detest praise. It makes them nervous. Best not risk being taken down a peg.
No you dont, a whole lot of Canada doesnt actually like JT, tweeted Canadian @Br0k3nHalo.
But then Meaghan Bilodeau, aka @BilodeauMeg, protested. B/c we do not agree with a few of his policies doesnt mean the majority dont like him. Didnt like some policies of past admins either.
I didnt say majority, said @Br0k3nHalo, hurt.
I misinterpreted. My apologies, Bilodeau responded, alarmed.
I was unclear, completely not your fault, @Br0k3nHalo said hastily.
Two Canadians at each others throats. Fear us, eh.
Canadians have recently been getting a top-up on their already high ranking in the international niceness stakes, I suspect because we look comparatively good-hearted next door to Donald Trumps Nastyland. Our prime minister is a friendly, feminist egalitarian type and a good dad. Gosh, the Canadian uplands are sunlit indeed.
We say sorry a lot, which is weird, and we pronounce it soary, which is unconscionable. My day is soary, soary, soary, soary and I hold the door open for men because why not, and they say thank you and soary and I say no problem.
But Canadians will fight you with both fists on the niceness thing. We are not that nice, we say, which is true. On Twitter, Meaghan is nice but all Meaghans are nice by definition just as all Jasons are nasty.
After an eight-car pileup in a snowstorm, Meaghans will invite everyone into the house for a hot chocolate while they wait for cops and tow trucks. Jasons will check out your medicine cabinet for painkillers.
Online, the threats I get from skinny white rural Canadian men are as violent as the ones from the pale, shaven-headed, goateed men of the American south. The only distinction is that the Americans always want me shot. Their thoughts leap to the gun just as their presidents reflexively bomb.
Canadians arent like this, partly because we are so multicultural that we might just bomb our grandparents. Even local gun freaks havent suggested openly carrying weapons. The idea of actually seeing a gun in a Canadian city is ludicrous.
As for Stand your ground, the Canadians version might be something more like: Dont rush me I can stay in this parking space all day, you know, or a brittle Please dont look in my garbage bin, it is private, you see.
We are #VeryBritishProblems but without the class-based rage baking beneath an studiedly casual remark. Here, there is no subtext.
The high points of our peace, order and good government motto are free healthcare, raccoon-free municipal bins, and public courtesy.
The low point is dullness. Rudeness is frowned on but so is liveliness. Columnists are encouraged to write sugar water. I call it slurp. It is trite, sentimental writing about collective heartbreak, the bright side of death, what cancer can teach you, and so on. Slurp doesnt sell in Britain, but it does in the US and weve caught a taste for it.
There is a Canadian version of Scandinavian jante law thats the one that sent Karl Ove Knausgaard into a kind of exile brought here in the 18th century by leathery Presbyterian Scottish immigrants. Who do you think you are? Youre not special. Stop that dancing.
As much as I detest extremism and love apologies being batted back and forth like Twitter shuttlecocks, it wet-blankets ambition, humour and the wilder pleasures of life.
The trick is to get the balance right. Canadians havent yet done that. Soary.
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