By NYX MCLEAN
My colleagues and peers are often surprised to hear me rant against excessive social media use, after-hours work texts, and WhatsApp groups.
They think that because I work in digital technologies and online communities, I must be pro-technology and digitising all the things even when it is unnecessary. Instead, I am more of a tech-nope; I prefer the quiet of carefully curated tech use and the boundaries of work remaining at the office when I leave at the end of the day.
Yes, technology helped immensely with needing to work or study remotely during the worst of COVID-19, but it also blurred the boundaries between home and work or school. Those two worlds merged, and a society already struggling to keep work at work after office hours may not be able to come back from this.
I noticed this week in one of the numerous WhatsApp groups I am a part of that a community member was demanding that a councillor respond to texts at 8 pm. A councillor who is, mind you, already very active online and far from silent on important issues affecting the community.
It is concerning that we are demanding a continual response to our texts in the evenings and on weekends. Of course, if there is an emergency, a response is warranted. But what I am concerned about in terms of the demand for a constant state of being plugged into the internet is that we are at risk of burning out one of the few good councillors we have.
Expecting somebody to be switched on all the time is unreasonable and frankly unfair to them as human beings in the world. We all need our downtime where we rest and recover before taking on the challenges of a new day. Expecting someone always to be available is not sustainable.
Yes, it is refreshing to have some councillors be so incredibly responsive in a community lacking proper communication from the municipality and supporting structures. And we are in desperate need of officials holding themselves accountable. But this does not mean we need to run the few who are doing good work into the ground. Instead, we need to ask where is everybody else? How do we support the work of our councillors?
Currently, at Grocott’s Mail, we are experiencing something similar, and maybe that’s why this is a little close to home. We are currently a team of two editors and one designer. Our students have not yet arrived to start the academic year, but the news and information demands of Makhanda are high, and we are quite simply not keeping up with these demands. We are doing our best, trying to be reasonable and recognise that we are human beings who need downtime. We hope that you, our fellow community members understand this.
We hope you also understand that people are doing good work in this town, and if we want to continue to see good work being done, we need to support them. This is not to say that we stop asking questions and flagging concerns but rather that we give them reasonable time to respond and call on others to assist.
If we want to see the excellent work that has started in some parts of our community continue and extend to the rest of Makhanda and Makana, we need to bring others into this conversation and call for action from more than just the few people doing the work.
We also want to report on the good work of councillors, so if you are in a ward and your councillor is working well and communicating with you, we want to hear about it. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com or send us a message on Facebook Messenger.