Know what I love about going to conferences: the group activities! No, wait….I mean know what I HATE about going to conferences…
Listen, I appreciate you getting me away from work for a few days, but it would be so great if I could just sit hear doodling on the hotel’s cheap little tablet while you lecture, rather than getting up and having to construct some sort of tower made out of paper cups and straws with a bunch of people I don’t know and didn’t really want to talk to in the first place. Also, I am not going to be interacting in your small group discussions or interacting with you when you ask us questions that we have to raise our hands to answer. I don’t go to conferences to meet new people or “network”. I don’t want to “learn” anything from anyone who paid to come to a conference to study the same stuff I did. That makes no sense. Also, I am paying you to give me this information. I’m not paying to act a fool with a bunch of other numbskulls.
The worst thing is that, when you do have to participate in group activities, there is always that one idiot who is having fun. Who is really getting into the friendly competition of which team can build a newspaper bridge that can hold the most weight? Dear Psycho Group Leader: news flash: I don’t give a shit how much our paper bridge holds. I am just trying to survive this little party in Hell until I can go back to my seat again. If you need me, I’ll be over here getting a coffee and I probably won’t be back until after you guys have come up with our team’s name (fingers crossed you can make a super cool acronym out of the first couple letters of all our names!!)
Have I mentioned how much I hate group activities? If you tell us all to close our eyes and imagine…blah blah blah, even that isn’t going to happen. I will sit there, eyes open, writing on my notepad (probably something like “omfg, I hate this ridiculous nonsense. Please kill me now”) while you and the rest of the beautiful dreamers participate in your visualization exercise.
Why do people think a large group of individuals would want to participate in this stuff? Has anyone in the history of ever really hoped there would be “fun” small group activities when they go to a conference? No. Like I said, some really get into it, some love to hear themselves talk, but even these weirdos would rather just go, listen, and go home.
The frightening thing is there are actually books and websites devoted to these stupid activities! The authors have obviously never themselves been participants in the lecture hall equivalent of water boarding.
I went to a conference recently where we were given different colored bandanas to wear around and we had to sit with others matching our color and that was our group. We then played win, lose, or draw and trivial pursuit games together (the theme being the topic of the conference) they also gave us puffy stickers to “decorate” our name tags! Maybe some of you don’t know this, but I am a doctor. Maybe (and I seriously mean maybe because I am not even sure this is ever appropriate behavior for adults) if this was a conference for Kindergarten teachers about ideas for teaching colors or something, it may have been reasonable. But I deliver babies and those babies don’t really give a loaded diaper if I have a puffy peace sign on my name badge or not. Also, delivering babies is not a group activity so I don’t see why I need this skill in the first place.
Yes, I am cynical. Maybe anti-social in my interactions with strangers. But I don’t believe I am alone in this. I say we all rise up, no wait…I say we all stay in our seats, refuse to speak to each other, take our pens in hand and demand to be talked at for an hour and half to two hours at a time all day for five days straight! If we all band together and insist we stay separate, we just might win this battle! Just say no! (Silently. No speaking out in lecture or anything that might draw attention to yourself)