July seemed a long month which, when you think of it, is exactly what you want in a
-- except for the forest
that caused untold heartache for so many Canadians.
It was good to be back at
(vs. Fort McMurray) where the seats are wide enough that you can stand up and cheer a good play or let someone get by. I also got to enjoy the cushy seats of the Jubilee Auditorium for a performance of
. I wish I had half the imagination that the creators of that production have!
In July I got cast in an on-line
for an association! No lines, but I had a blast. It's impressive to see how all that film gets cut into a 30 second piece -- so different from stage productions.
Speaking of different, I'll be rolling out a new
in the next couple of months.
, my long-suffering web master of ten years, has retired. She gave me a year's notice but I ignored her. Turns out she was serious. She deserves a break from me but I don't know how I can ever thank her for her competence, patience, and many kindnesses. I miss you already, Pat!
I also miss the preparing for the
this year. True, I am still exhausted from having two of my plays
earlier this year, but now that so many of my friends are in rehearsals, I'm feeling left out. I really need to write a
Are you the kind of person who reads
? I am (fascinating, aren't they?). I just saw one for a man I knew in the 1990s. I was working for a professional association and, for a variety of circumstances, he became ineligible to remain a member of the profession and as Registrar it was my job to tell him so. He reacted by making
pertaining to his gun collection and the damage it could do to me.
After he hung up on me, bizarrely, my next move was to thumb through the
to find the correct procedure for dealing with death threats from a member. When I didn't find one (!) I called a few EDs to see if they had one. (I know, I know...). No one was around, but eventually my pal John said, "
This isn't a policy matter!
Get out, tell building security, and call the police!" Until that moment I just couldn't connect the dots to see the danger.
That weird episode reminded me
what belongs in policy
(stuff the helps the organization do its work consistently and fairly) and what doesn't (exceptions to address one individual's needs/preferences). It was a lesson I won't forget.
In 2005 I got a death threat from a member of another profession because our meeting venue served coffee in styrofoam cups instead of china.
You just never know what people are going to care about
! I wasn't surprised we didn't have a policy on that (see, I learned), and I knew just what to do. Oh, and here's some free advice -- don't ever take
off the menu if your group is used to having them! (That one was a threat of violence, not death, but still shocking).
These examples of horrible behaviour happened before social media. Now, people are much quicker to be threatening and cruel. "
" has emerged as the thing to do, and no matter the situation, there's a posse of people ready to shame you for doing it/thinking it/being it/eating it, etc.
is defined as "A
painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior
A loss of respect or esteem; Used to reprove someone for something of which they should be ashamed
A regrettable or unfortunate situation or action."
Recently a NFP did something that most of us have wanted to do for years -- they changed their volunteer policy so they could
and interests with the
of the organization. Unfortunately, they made mistakes in communicating the changes. An aggrieved volunteer put it on social media and within minutes (literally) it became a
public relations nightmare
for this NFP.
escalated, with people seizing the opportunity to remark on things that a) had nothing to do with the new policy and/or b) they know nothing about (e.g., How do
know the best time for the Executive Director's vacation or who really deserves to be fired?). The
was based on
("you are wrong") instead of pointing out that a thing the organization did may have been wrong. That's an important difference, in my view.
After parsing out comments that
support the volunteer
, they were left with hundreds of
, most laced with
, and threats to
the organization, its sponsors, and anyone involved. The potential "hurt" surpassed the original problem by a long shot, and the whole episode was
When an organization/person is being ganged up on in social media,
commitments to do better
seem to be lost while the venom just keeps getting recirculated.
People didn't seem to understand
they could support the volunteer without denouncing the organization. But instead, they
, putting someone down so their own status could be elevated ("Gee, aren't I a great citizen because I support this volunteer's grievance?").
you are a
when you can support the volunteer
actively help the organization get back to a point where you can support it again. In my world, smear campaigns are inconsistent with being a great citizen. Fortunately, some
emerged and they are now rolling out a plan. Eventually a
will occur, but did there need to be so much
along the way?
All of this makes me wonder how much longer our Not-for-Profits will be able to
staff and board members. It's one thing to be protected against liability, but when a social media mob comes calling, I worry that we won't have the
to take them on. I picture ominous shadows, wagging one finger to shame us while another finger is perched above the "send" button, ready to tear us all down for the slightest infraction.
go on all the time, but I think we should be able to differentiate what is shameful from what was a mistake or what might have occurred early on someone's learning curve. How about a little more
ourteous goodwill), people?
Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.