In the age of misinformation, it’s tempting to say ‘I told you so’

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Opinion

In the age of misinformation, it’s tempting to say ‘I told you so’

By Wendy Squires
This story is part of the July 17 edition of Sunday Life. See all 13 stories.

If there is a sentence that defines smugness, “I told you so” would have to take the prize. When it has been levelled at me in the past, let’s just say I haven’t taken to it too kindly. At all.

In fact, there are few things I would rather never hear uttered again, rendering this particular irritation up there with “you are missing the best part of the day” (go away early risers, you are interrupting the best part of my sleep); the disingenuous “with all due respect”, which usually implies anything but; and the condescension that is “I am telling you this for your own good”, again usually offered by someone whose high opinion of themself is not reciprocated.

Stay alert and alarmed but also stay sane. Because, if we don’t, we will end up like the US.

Stay alert and alarmed but also stay sane. Because, if we don’t, we will end up like the US. Credit:iStock

Aware of just how white-knuckle-annoying “I told you so” is, I make a habit of never saying it. But damn, sometimes I want to. Recently, I’ve had to grit my teeth until they are bloody stumps to stop said words from leaving my lips, and have wanted to scream them from the rooftops in a venting of rage and frustration. You see, over these past few years of madness on a global scale, I’ve seen and heard so much craziness passing as absolute wisdom I feel as if the world has been gaslighting me into senile submission. However, submission and I are not friends.

So, to those who have opined that I am most certainly wrong about my views of late, that certain predictions of mine could or would “never happen”, I will not be so arrogant as to say I told you so. Nope, I’ll write it instead.

So, to those who assured me that Roe v Wade couldn’t or wouldn’t ever be revoked in the US – how you feeling now? Yes, I was furious when Trump loaded up the Supreme Court with three religious, conservative justices during his tenure, tipping the power balance within to the right. And yes, that was me warning all and sundry that the goal was to revoke the federal law preserving the right of women to receive safe abortions. Now it has cruelly happened, setting women’s rights back 50 years to a very dark age.

I’ve seen and heard so much craziness passing as absolute wisdom I feel as if the world has been gaslighting me.

While I am not saying “I told you so”, can I take a moment to tap every young woman on the shoulder who has told me they are not a feminist because they feel the term is redundant, the fight for equality has been won, and that their rights are ensured?

After what has happened in the US, are you so sure complacency is warranted now? “But it hasn’t happened here,” I hear you counter. Well, the 13.8 per cent gender pay gap in this country isn’t going away, is it? Nor is the fact that a woman is still being murdered by a former or current partner every week in Australia. Still believe feminism is an unnecessary force for equality, ladies?

Okay, this is one I shouldn’t be too boastful about, as it could have cost a friend her life. However, when an outspoken anti-vaxxer, COVID-denying girlfriend of mine contracted the virus, there was a part of me that wanted to remind her of her folly.

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I was tempted to send back every dodgy “expert” report and video she’s pushed at me purporting to show the pandemic is a hoax (don’t start me on her QAnon conspiracy cray) with a barrage of laughing emojis.

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However, considering she has been bedridden now for six weeks, still can’t smell anything and has a cough like gravel in a blender, I’m thinking that perhaps she may have already changed her mind on the topic.

I understand that it is hard out there right now, that misinformation is everywhere, and that we are all trying to sift the truth from the tripe. I know many of us are all cynical and have lost trust in our leaders after litanies of lies. And we are scared – terrified even – of the pandemic and its ongoing consequences. However, never has it been more important to check facts with reputable sources, to trust in scientists, not influencers, and to never be complacent enough to believe that all politicians are the same, or that our votes and voices don’t have an impact.

In other words, stay alert and alarmed but also stay sane. Because, if we don’t, we will end up like the US – mark my words. And you know how it will pain me to say “I told you so”.

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