I was at a community event, focussing on rights, stories, art, narratives of ethnic minorities, and was privileged to get to listen to two fine speakers--both academics. The keynote academic speaker did a particularly fine job in relaying his topic to the non-academic audience. There were a few academics scattered about, but the focus was a community event, not an academic one.
The keynote speaker had come from some distance, and was giving all of his weekend to this event. Whatever his motivations were to give the speech, he was certainly generous and giving of his time, knowledge and gifts to come to a community event.
After his speech, people circulated, speaking and socialising. An erratic sort of queue formed for people who wanted to talk with the keynote speaker. I waited patiently, only wanting to tell him how much I had enjoyed the speech, how much I had learned, and to thank him for coming.
A rude middle aged white man shoved past me, and came to a halt nearly chest to chest with the speaker. The speaker remained polite and gracious. The shover proceeded to try to criticise the speaker and his speech on some historical note. The shover, you see, felt himself an expert, because he was "writing a book" as he said numerous times.
The shover may or may not have been an academic, it was hard to tell from the bits of conversation I overheard, but he well could have been. The speaker remained so gracious and polite, while the shover tried to demonstrate some sort of superior knowledge.
Finally the shover went on his way, and I moved swiftly to speak with the speaker, while a shover number 2 lurked, trying to shove his way in. I simply told the speaker how much I enjoyed his presentation, how insightful it was, how it gave me a new perspective on this topic, and again, to thank him for his generous participation in the community event.
as Dale Carnegie would explain, people no matter great or small, always want to feel as if THEY Are important. thats what it boils down to. he just wanted to show the speaker he's the expert and to show him up. quite rude and far from gracious. people just want to be important.
But what's up with the Shovers? Why try to prove you know more than a keynote speaker? How rude. If the Shovers were all that, then they would be selected as keynote speakers. Ah, perhaps that is the problem--jealousy and mean-spiritedness and insecurity. Well, no points get scored in anyone's eyes ( except perhaps their own) by acting like Shovers. I am sure the keynote speaker took away no illusion of the Shover's vast intellect.
Isn't this just what happens at talks and conferences? Instead of geinuine debate and discussion, it's a contest to prove the speaker wrong and the questioner right. It's a negative side effect of the competitve nature required by many academics and similar minded folk.
I went to a conference a couple of years ago and one of the speakers was in full flow and lots of people starting leaving the room!!!! I thought the talk was really good, and also felt sorry for the speaker. How rude were those people!!!!!!! If i was speaking at say a student event and people left i would feel awful and it would defintely damage my confidence. Maybe we need thicker skins!!! However, i don't think people should act like that, it's not very considerate and shows a basic lack of decent human behaviour! Understand it goes on though but it shouldn't!!!
Been there, seen it, experienced. Also with me as a speaker at conferences. It amuses me to see some middle-aged men and women try to rubbish the speaker, they seem to get some sort of satisfaction from this action. Just shows the weirdness of academia and some of its main players. They probably try to compensate for their rubbish lives and poor salaries.
I know its common at academic events, but its plain ASININE! Day 2 of community event--a few more academics at a roundtable discussion, some audience member when invited for a question instead has again the sheer rudeness to try to correct a speaker on some point. When the moderator cut the audience person off after about a 5 minute diatribe, the audience member threw a fit ( I suspect they might have been an academic "slumming" at the event, or a wannabe academic or expert...). I had a question I wanted to ask, but when I could not figure out how to ask it in less than some long paragraph ( practicing it to myself) I decided I would be an ar** to ask it and came up with something else that I could ask in one sentence.
I figure a few more people using basic human courtesy of please and thank you would alter some of the balance of this foul and common behavior. I am not going to go on a wild eyed crusade about this, but I will make a point of thanking speakers and saying I appreciated their contribution whenever I can. I wonder if the Shovers and Diatribers realise that they look like proper fools in these events, rather than show-casing their glowing intellect?
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