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Time to take a step back from virtual reality
Dust on the Dashboard

Time to take a step back from virtual reality

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

I got my second COVID-19 vaccination last week. No, I did not really have any side effects. The nurse who gave me the shot said that I might feel tired and achy, to which I replied, “That is normal for me, how will I know it is the vaccine?”

Maybe I was more tired and achy than normal, but it is the time of the year when I am working cattle, burning pastures and many other activities that make me sore and tired. All in all, the vaccination process was not much of an ordeal.

I am not here to get into the argument about if the vaccination was necessary or any of the other arguments around the pandemic. I got the shot for my peace of mind so I could put this past year behind me and move on with my life. I do not want to hear or be told any theories about why or why not to get the shot. I assume if you are reading this you are of semi-sound mind and can make your own decisions based on the facts and theories you have available to you. The bottom line is you make your decision, I will make mine.

If this sounds like a rant, I am sorry, it is. I am fed up with conspiracy theories and looking for the boogie man behind every corner. I think we all need to be reminded that sometimes, most times, things are as they seem and there are no underlying hidden messages, meanings or traps – despite what the internet, media or the guy at the coffee shop says. Everything you read, hear or watch is not true, in fact, I would guess much of what is on the internet is not.

Yes, the internet. Several years ago, my father mentioned that the internet was going to be the ruination of the world. I told him he was old fashioned and needed to get with modern times, but lately I wonder which one of us was right.

I know, the genie is out of the bottle and we will never see a world that does not depend on the internet, but I think we all need to take a step back from it for a minute. Believe me, friends, I am included in this.

Lately I have been inundated with crazy theories and ideas from friends I know and respect. If we could take ourselves back to the pre-internet time – before Facebook, Twitter, 24-hour news and all the other things we have at our fingertips – we would probably be far more skeptical of such information. Now days, we are awash in an ocean of information and not all of it is factual. Increasingly, it is hard to tell what the truth is. That is where we need to unplug.

I do not think the internet, Facebook, and everything else associated with them are bad. Facebook allows me to keep up with old friends and family that I might not be able to otherwise. It is great for entertainment. Google is valuable to research things or look up something I have forgotten. However, all this information, news and other “stuff” needs to be taken with a grain of salt and gazed upon with a critical eye.

I also know that the past year has taken a toll on all of us. it is a prime example of what can happen when we do not spend enough time in fellowship with our friends, families, co-workers and neighbors. Our minds wander.

This past year has naturally made us doubt what we thought we knew, and the isolation made that even worse. It is time to break free of that and come back to the real world. We have got to start taking things at face value, work to change what you do not agree with and stop tearing apart those with whom you disagree. Just because we do not see things the same does not mean we have to be bitter enemies.

Please, do not misunderstand me. We need to always be informed, and when we see something we do not agree with we need to make our opinion heard and work to change it. We also should understand that most things are as they seem and are not a part of a bigger, darker plan to ruin our lives. Work to make the changes you think need to be made, but do not do it at the expense of the other side. Work together and if you cannot, step aside and let someone who can do it.

I am sorry about the rant, but I am really tired of the “all or nothing” mentality that we have in this world. I am tired of looking for the “gotcha” in every scenario, and I am tired of not trusting my fellow humans.

We have got to get back to the point where we treat everyone with decency and respect, to where we worry about what we are doing before we worry about the other person. Things are not as bad as they seem. Life will go on and the sun will come up, regardless of what the internet might say.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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