Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: facebook (Page 1 of 3)

Shamed on Social Media

I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to come back here, but I guess it is like riding a bike: Fall off, climb back on again. I am not sure that if your legs are broken it is even possible, but, given time, even with broken but mending legs, it is said to be the best medicine. Right now I probably need this medicine. I am doing this with my heart in my mouth.

When is the right time to respond? Is it too soon? Is it too late? Will I be accused of starting it up again?

Just over a week ago I made a hideous mistake based on a completely knee-jerk reaction about a goat that I perceived was in distress. Coupled with my reaction was an idiotic post I made on a Facebook group that I am part of, asking for help. After I saw what had happened, and how the thing had spiralled down into hideous, racist, Islamophobic assumptions by idiots commenting on my post, I rushed to make a very public apology, so fast I even messed that up, and then apologised again, and then again. The family who I hurt accepted, and then later questioned and rejected my apology.

I will be very surprised if you, my readers, have not seen the resulting fallout from #goatgate, on social media, in the newspapers and on the radio. I was made fun of, threatened, trolled, called names. I was sent private messages of the most filthy abuse. My blog was targeted, my apology rejected, my personal details distributed, screen grabs (not including my apology) shared, my work threatened, my name ridiculed, my past discredited, my politics rejected. I was made fun of by South Africa’s comedians, I was given lessons in what I should have done, I was threatened and silenced and warned that my actions were indefensible. I was vilified by actresses in the industry; some who know me and some who don’t.

Three articles featured prominently on IOL, M&G and Cape Times. These were shared like holiday sweets on Facebook and Twitter. One of the articles was written by a Facebook friend. Not once was I asked for my side of the story, or even to comment. With all my contact information totally accessible to anyone (for abuse), I was not contacted by the ‘journalists’ even though I was quoted by them, when they lifted what I had written on Facebook. The only media outlet that made contact with me was Radio Islam who asked if I would come onto their morning show to give my side of the story. Of course I said yes. They were the only ones ever who asked.

Alongside the deep shame and humiliation I felt about this horrible thing was the powerless sense of my silence. I understood the temperature of the room and realised that anything I said was fuel to the fire and I had to keep quiet, get off social media and only invest in one-on-one interactions. It was clear that my apology didn’t support the narrative and was mostly left out of any further portrayals of me, the racist, hater, whitesplainer. Two people asked to meet with me, to hear what I had to say, of the hundreds who sent messages of abuse and name calling. Two people who were very offended by what I had done; one publicly and one privately schooling me and putting me in my place. These meetings have not happened yet.

The fallout has extended further into my world of work. I have always understood that I have a public profile that lends itself to controversy. I don’t do myself any favours by writing about theatre, here on meganshead and for Weekend Special. I saw two plays last week and couldn’t write about them. I knew that people would be looking at the ‘who’ of the review instead of the ‘what’, and that everybody would suffer.

When I think about it with a bit of distance the one thing that is funny is that I am always desperate for publicity for my work. I struggle to get media attention for my plays; always begging friends and colleagues for airtime and press. I haven’t been on the radio talking about my plays in years. I have to rely on my own small publicity machine on social media for any exposure. But all over all media, Megan Furniss – well known theatre maker, actress, director, famous in South African theatre circles, made headlines.

I still feel sick about this. I still feel silenced and ashamed. I still wish I could turn back the clock and take it all back. And yet, I know, in a world more gentle, and kind, my real concern for an animal in distress (regardless of it being part of a petting zoo at a children’s birthday party) would have been just that. Me. Super sensitive about an animal tied to a pole.

A small difference

So much has happened to me since I last wrote a blog post, mostly a soul altering, mind bending, heart stretching trip to my tribal homeland of New York City.

I have been back for just over a week now, and have spent most of it getting over jet lag and jumping straight into performing improv, teaching and directing and dubbing and trying to find my body in Pilates after over 50 hours of crippling flying.

One of the priceless things about travel is that you can see home and home problems at a distance, with fresh insight and renewed vigour. There is also a moment (although not long lasting) where the things you thought were big suddenly seem not to be, and visa versa.

On my return I called someone out on Facebook for a clueless post that was inherently racist. We had a small private conversation in which he was defensive, but in pain, and I was kind but firm. He messaged me later. He had shifted his viewpoint. Even in his pain he had been jolted to see things differently. I was so happy. I had helped him see that he was wrong. I made a difference.

The lesson has been to ‘speak’ out. Say something. Leave a comment. Call someone out for sexist or harassing behaviour. Speak your mind when someone does something racist, or hurts another person in front of you. Let children hear you stop someone doing something bad, or wrong, or rude or insensitive. We can all make a difference.

 

 

I heart Facebook

Every time one of my Facebook friends threatens to leave Facebook forever, or does leave, or goes on a holiday from Facebook, or announces why it is so terrible and should be banned, or suggests that it is worse for people than sugar is for ADHD kids, I suffer little shivers of shame at my totally guilty pleasure.

See, I love Facebok, Vleisboek, Facebum, Visagetome. In spite of the terrible spelling and grammar in the “lose 50kgs in half an hour” ads, the “Hi I am Mike and I am around the corner and I think we should meet”, those hideous new homemade damn comics (that might just have become passe, I am hoping), the trashy quotes on tie-dye backgrounds. I love Facebook in spite of my few emo friends, in spite of food photos, in spite of endless theatre campaigns to raise money to make this or send that, with their false promises that somehow you will benefit from giving them your money. In spite of the pictures of cruelty to animals, that freak me out for days. In spite of the endless stream of causes that need me to push a button, install an app, allow facebum to get all my info etc, etc. In spite of the fact that it always the person you least want to ‘chat’ with who starts up that typed conversation.

I love Facebook because it gives me access to and insight into friends’ lives, hearts and humor. It is a special way of connecting, ‘sharing’, networking, messaging and recoginising. It is a powerful (sometimes frighteningly so) and speedy way of getting info out there, particularly news about people’s successes, deaths, shared concerns and traditions and celebrations. We connect through word, thought, images, ideas and humour. I especially love seeing my friends animals and children, and even the veggies that they are growing.

I love sharing my stuff on Facebook. I love seeing who ‘gets’ what. I love the surprise of a random status update that suddenly gets attention. I love reading what other people suggest, and link to. I love posting my thoughts and links to my blog and getting responses from friends and connections.

Yes, Facebook is a distraction. Yes, Facebook is an ‘easy way out’ when wishing people a Happy  birthday/birth/Xmas/holiday/year, but so what? So, Facebook friends, I am not going anywhere. I see, like and share you.

Putting the fest to bed

I wanted to write a general post with little bits and pieces, stories and skinner, before I forgot them and got straight back into real life.

I loved being at the fest this year. It was my first time ever that I went as an observer/writer/blogger, as opposed to performer or director, and the shift in stress levels was remarkable! My only wistfulness was that I had to drink all the wine at Bushman’s where I was staying, instead of in G’town, because I couldn’t drive drunk! I am also fired up about bringing work to the fest next year, which is a good sign.

Reasons (other than good shows) I loved the festival this year: I loved Garvey’s coffee at The Monument. I drove the 60 odd k’s in the morning for a macchiato in a real cup. More expensive than most of the meals I ate, but completely spectacular. I brought a bag of his coffee back for Big Friendly. I loved The Art Lounge and the cutey Argentinian boys who made great masala chai, gluwein, veg pies. It was bladdy cold hanging out there, but it was delicious. I loved Fusion (I think) at Cape Town Edge. Mark remembers everyone, and he makes us feel special. It’s also the best food, and jauling, at the fest. I loved being invited to perform at improv comedy at Cape Town Edge, as a fundraiser. I loved hanging with my little sisters and shooting the breeze, slagging off bad shows. Fiona (Shorty’s daughter) du Plooy and Candice (oh my word) D’Arcy are fantastic fest friends. I loved disagreeing with Simon Cooper about virtually every show we saw. I loved evening replays of some of the funny moments with Helen, Mike R, Anthony and Simon. I loved getting hopelessly lost and having Simon and Mike give up the best parking place to find me. I loved weeing with laughter at The Spur with Ntombi, Thembani and Connie. I loved banging into Strato, a Gtown local and friend, and catching up. I loved my chats to Toby and her sister about everything they had seen, and getting feedback on stuff I recommended. I loved Jon Keevy but didn’t see him enough. I loved free wi-fi at The Monument and at The Spur. I loved writing and posting reviews. I loved my media badge and bag, and all the comps I got, and the fantastic Cilnette in the media office. I loved being media (thanks Steve) and having more than my own blog to share my loud and opinionated voice with.

I hated the cold. I hated missing shows completely because of no electricity. I hated those moments where I realised I wasn’t going to see everything I was asked to see, and I saw the look I obviously gave every year to everyone, right back at me. I promise I’ll never do it again. I hated being so far away and leaving the passing of precious Bayla in the hands of Big Friendly. I hated that I was traveling home on my godson’s birthday! I hated that one or two rubbish shows got ‘ovations’ and accolades. I hated some CUE reviews. I hated what happened to the posters in the rain. I hated being manipulated into giving parking money by everyone who saw me leaving a parking spot even though I had found it all by myself.

I loved facebook and twitter and BBM for hooking me up, keeping me in touch and allowing me the occasional vent. It was a good one.

Multitasking

My boet always complains that his wife and his sister are the only two women in the world who can’t multitask. I can’t speak for my gorgeous, talented and amazing sister-in-law, but it really is true for me. I need to do things one at a time. I can’t even be on my laptop (or phone) in a random way and have a conversation with Big Friendly. It makes him mental. I can be mid-sentence and my phone (or the stove, or the door, or the TV) will ping, and instantly I will be distracted and lose my train of thought. I even find it hard to work on different projects at the same time. One seems to occupy all the ‘project’ space in my brain, and I struggle to keep thoughts of the other stuff on board. It’s as if they get squeezed and jostled by the big fat dominant one on duty at the time.

Also, I have been struggling with flu this week and weekend and it has meant that work wise I have been forced to do the minimum required before dragging myself back to bed. This has also meant that my writing, making little videos and all the other bits and pieces I do have lapsed a bit. So I have been on facebook and twitter, a lot. Are they not the most arbitrary, fun and useless time wasters?

One of the most amazing things about now time is how rehearsals have changed. Four out of five of my cast have Blackberrys, and whenever they are off-stage they are BBM’ing, tweeting, or facebook messaging; sometimes even to me, sitting right there in the rehearsal room. We watch videos on youtube, share jokes that are flying through the ethernet,  pass on download info and even google stuff to just make sure.

But for me it is hard. I need to to one thing, or the other. So if I get sucked in to a message on my phone I get spat out of what ever else it is I should be doing, like watching my rehearsal, or following the text. It’s almost as if I leave an energetic black hole where I was, and then have to come back to it, but time is lost. It feels like all of present tense is changing, and we are all less ‘in’ the actual moment. Well, I certainly am. I am going to have to factor in phone down time. Tomorrow.

Moira’s back

There’s new stuff for Moira to worry about today.

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