By now, pretty much everyone knows that Toronto's mayor is belligerent, deluded, crack-using, defiant, in serious danger of doing harm to himself or others, and surrounded by crazy people who love him in a way that encourages him to be all those things I just mentioned.
And watching the minute-by-minute updates about the public breakdown of this person has made me feel pretty conflicted and disgusted with myself.
The first reason this experience has made me disgusted with myself is by no means a surprising or unusual one: I find myself occasionally exhilarated by the sense that NEWS IS HAPPENING, and IT IS CONSISTENTLY CRAZY NEWS, and then I consider the fact that the news that is happening relates to a real person and a real city and involves other real people—and feel crappy for all my prurient interest and anticipation.
The second reason is that this experience has given me an intense and sustained sense of Toronto community. I know that pretty much everyone is thinking about the same thing at the same time. And I know that—with the exception of some people who want to vote for the regular guy (you know, the one you'd feel comfortable doing some crack with while threatening to murder people) and some people who happen to be related to this regular guy and are maybe the worst people ever—pretty much everyone is thinking the same things about that thing. I don't know that I've ever been so powerfully aware of Toronto as a single consciousness, consciously focused on one single subject.
And I feel gross and uncomfortable that it is this subject that has made me feel this way. People don't tend to, though, en masse and by the millions, spontaneously think about the benefits of light rail transit; people rarely, all together and at one and the same time, consider the benefits of affordable housing.
But I suspect that actively enjoying—rather than simply finding solace in--the sense of community that has sprung out of such a profoundly distressing situation is probably neither honourable nor healthy. Getting enjoyment out of something that causes general distress isn't usually awesome.
Whenever I find myself too inclined to feel gratified by the knowledge that I am right now agreeing with millions and millions of my fellow Torontonians about something, I remind myself again that actual people are involved in this, that an actual city is involved in this, and that one of the reasons it's so difficult to find the right tone to take with this is that it is both completely outlandish and increasingly disturbing—and then I become overwhelmed by all that and want to remind myself that I'm not alone and that a lot of other people feel the same way...and the whole thing starts all over again.