It was the best of Social Medias, it was the worst of Social Medias.
i mean, let’s be honest, i don’t tend towards being a ‘go gently into that good night’ kind of person when it comes to the online.
Or the offline.
Or an unattended chocolate fountain, to be honest, but that’s just your fault wedding reception i wasn’t even invited to!
MMmm, cho-co-late fountain…. now, where was i?
Oh yes, social media. Well the week started with me taking on that no-go-area of having a problem with people having big piles of money to swim in while other people can’t eat and that somehow turning me into the savage. Um, what? By the end of the week i was too scared to even post the link to the house in Bantry Bay that is going for R220 000, which you might think is peanuts for a house these days, until you realise that is the rent PER MONTH. i know, what a savage i am for thinking that’s an awful thing. Don’t get me started on the Constantia one that broke the record at R450 000. Cos clearly those people worked hard for their money and people who starve and die a lot not so much.
i wasn’t even wanting so much to find solutions for the ‘i’ve got a big pile of money and it’s okay that you can’t eat’ scenario as much as i was just hoping people could get to the point of going, ‘Sho, that’s a little messed up!’ but turns out a lot of people don’t seem to think it’s messed up at all.
What was surprising to me, or maybe not, is that defender after defender of the rich in all the various scenarios could not seem to bring themselves to type out the words ‘It is okay for some people to not have money and starve and die’ or something like that. i was told repeatedly that economics is “not a zero sum game, Brett!” but while many were happy to say, “It’s fine that the rich are rich” no one was owning the fact that “it’s fine that the poor and dying are poor and dying” – it’s like they are too separate things.
Although at the same time as all this was happening, my friend Trevor who i have done a number of conversation blog posts [where we each get five chunks of 100 words or so comment and then respond to each other back and forth via email and then post it as a blog] on money which focused on some different aspects and some similar ones and you can eavesdrop on that conversation on Trevor’s blog over here.
There was also this gem accusation levelled at me:
“I see you post with anger about wealth, yet I see you post about adding extra chocolate chips to chocolate chip ice cream – bragging about ‘luxury’. “
Which doesn’t seem fair or even true at all, cos surely i typically brag about adding Smartie Eggs and Melted Top Deck to ice-cream? But yes, a good reminder that the fingers that point at the mega rich as we see them better be the same ones straightening the mirror we stare at, at the beginning of each day as we ask, ‘What do i need to change in that guy?’
IT’S TIME TO MAN UP
i decided to give racism a rest [not really] and tackle sexism, patriarchy [apparently not a thing in Americaland] and abuse of women in a status calling menfolk to #NotOnOurWatch situations in public spaces where they saw woman being harrassed or inappropriately approached, bothered or even ‘complimented’ in a way that could make them feel uneasy.
That went really well and generated a whole lot of good conversation and was shared all over the internet and so i turned it into a blog piece to make it easier for people to pass around.
ONE FOR THE GRANDMA POLICE
In the midst of all the seriousness going around, there was time for an intervention from the Twitterer in the form of this amazing joke that i shared on Facebook:
‘Can you be more pacific?’
*smashes door down*
Courtesy of @eddo75
WATER WE GOING TO DO?
There was a story about a township that had its water turned off at 9pm every night and on again at 4am in the morning. Followed by someone else sharing a second story about that in a different marginalised space. Followed by a large number of people quick to defend and say it wasn’t a poor or black issue but must have been some kind of technical problem like they surprisingly never seem to have in Constantia or Bantry Bay for some reason #MaybeTheRentCoversThat
Out of that i did manage to connect a reporter to some stories as well as a politician to some of the same stories and so hopefully that is being looked at right now.
CHECK YOUR INITIAL RESPONSE
A good lesson for anyone on social media is to consider the responses you give to things. Here are a few ideas on that:
 If you get a story that seems too good/bad/evil/weird/strange/unlikely to be true, there is a chance it isn’t – liking and forwarding and sharing with everyone you know is not the best option. Clicking on Snopes.com or even doing a simple google with the name of the thing and the word hoax generally will tell you whether it’s a hoax or not. It doesn’t take a lot of time to check a story you want to share but it is extremely hard to undo once the Sharetreadmill has been turned on and chaos/panic/baked beans buying is at an all time high. We could all do well to do a quick check on our stories.
 Question your initial response – if your first response to a story you see is, “Ah, racism!” or “Ah, sexism!” or “Ah, not racism!” or “Ah, not sexism!” or whatever and that response fits in with your general disposition or bent, take a moment to really try and listen to what is being shared without the bias and see if there is not another side to the thing from what you might typically think. A white person jumping on a news incident focusing on a crime to a black person, shouting “It’s not racism!” or a man rushing in to a statement about how a woman felt treated in a certain incident declaring “not all men” is often not helpful.
Especially in the context of South Africa where racism has been so prevalent and so while everything is not racist, there has been a strong tendency for things to be racist and so we need to consider the race implications – direct or indirect – of each new story. In a country where male dominance has been so prevalent, we need to consider whether directly or indirectly there may be an element of sexism/patriarchy/misogyny in this particular story. And possibly err in the direction where the prejudice has a stronger history.
Let’s leave it at two for now, unless you have one to add. Although the call to Listen cannot be given enough. To really listen and truly try to understand what someone else is saying, especially when it seems foreign to you. Ask for clarification if you are not sure you are hearing what someone is trying to say.
A NOT TO BE MISSED OPPORTUNITY
i can not stress this one enough – if you have not done the Improguise [my Improv group] Improv for Life course then you need to seriously consider giving it a go. We do need new people in our group at the moment and so there is definitely space for people who shine in the course to find themselves on stage in the future. But for the majority of people doing the course, it is about learning the beauty of a “Yes, let’s” response, breaking some inhibitions that might hold you back in social or work contexts, building confidence, discovering gifts you never knew you had, building some story-telling skills and having a whole lot of fun on the way – and possibly making some really great new friends as well.
Well the course is about to run again and so here is your chance. You do not want to miss this one.
BEST [and worst] OF THE REST
i feel like last week was one of the busyest weeks i have ever had on social media in terms of intensity of conversation and engagement and some really good and difficult conversation and challenge and push back as well as some less-than-helpful trolling and people not getting stuff.
So starting with money and water and having an amazing and beautiful and hopefully helpful trip through men-taking-a-stand-and-looking-out-for-women, there was the absolute low of a horrendous crime that was committed in one of our local churches with a youth leader who solicited pictures of youth, and the call for the wider church to really stand alongside that congregation in terms of supporting and caring for the families and victims of the crime. This was heart-breaking and felt so close to home as i know many of this guys’ really good friends and a lot of the people who worked alongside him, and i have known him for more than ten years and it was a total sidesweep of hard-to-fathom proportions.
But beyond all of those big-themed discussions and conversations and posts, there was the woman on the tinder date who got trapped in the window while trying to recover a poo [which is one of those hoax things we all checked before forwarding and this one seems to have made the cut], there was an incredible evening with some amazing speakers including tbV and some of our good friends speaking at the Outliers annual Change Cape Town event, where we heard some strong critique as well as some creative dreaming and action being down in the hope of transforming Cape Town to the city it might be, as well as the story from Americaland of the pastor who is a descendant of Robert E Lee who was forced to leave his church after denouncing white supremacy at the MTV awards and the backlash he received.
Not to mention while all this was happening, two of the hugest storms of all time were busy ravaging parts of Americaland and some of the neighbouring islands.
So much stuff happening last week and i imagine i might have left a few things out… but all in all a reminder that social media is not the problem, typically we are. Facebook and Twitter and other avenues can be used for so much good [see my Blue-verine pic on the Instagram if you don’t believe that!] and, with thanks to one of my favourite mentor types Wayne Eaves for this summary pic on the matter, also so much bad:
Let’s try listen harder, be more gentle and generous with each other, really seek to understand different points of view than those we currently hold [whether we end up agreeing with them or not] and as much as we challenge, critique, call out, #NotOnOurWatch [all necessary] may we also seek to inspire and encourage and draw attention to and build up and grow.
And to anyone whose feelings i may have hurt on social media this week, may i give a most genuine and heart-felt:
i leave you with this song lyric that also jumped out at me this week…
Kick at the darkness til it bleeds daylight – Bruce Cockburn