Monday, September 19, 2011

Put On Your Listening Ears

Over the weekend, Keith, Bert and I attended a renewable energy and sustainable living festival. I'll post more on that later once I get some photos uploaded but I just need to vent for a moment. So thanks for letting me.

At the festival, there was a whole series of seminars, lectures and workshops visitors could attend. Keith had a list of things he was interested in and we were able to sit in on two of the lectures. I had my doubts about how good of audience members we could be with Bert in tow, but we made every effort to have him fed and clean before sitting down and then made sure we were seated at the back next to the exit in case he got fussy. And he did at one lecture, because he's just a baby. But we were able to slip out without making a big scene and (hopefully) very minimal disruption near the end of the presentation. I think leaving with a fussy baby is preferred to staying anyway. My apologies to the presenter if we interrupted you.

I know we can't all be perfect audience members all the time, but the second lecture we sat in gave me a really clear picture of just how bad the situation has become. My mom talks about teaching her first graders how to be good audience members; I think most of us need a refresher course. For starters, the cell phones are just out of control. In an hour long lecture, four cell phones rang. One ringtone was "You Sexy Thing," honest to goodness. Not only did the phone's owner not know how to silence it, but he was sitting in the front row and the presenter literally had to stop and wait for him to figure it out. Another woman got up and answered her phone. You never know, someone could be waiting for an important call about a delicate situation, but isn't that what the vibrate setting is for?

Also, people came in late. Not a minute or two late, which is bound to happen when the lectures and seminars are back-to-back and people need time to get from one tent to another, but ten, fifteen, and twenty minutes late. Some people came in late, sat a few minutes, and then got up and left. Maybe they realized they were in the wrong tent, but the schedule was posted outside. It was also printed in a program given out at the gate and available online so that attendees could plan their day around what they wanted to see and hear.

In front of me, three men came in and sat down and proceeded to chat among themselves throughout the entire presentation. About fifteen minutes in, they were joined by a woman. About twenty minutes in, she left, only to return a few minutes later with french fries. The whole presentation was only an hour so one would think she could have waited until the end to refuel. It's like getting your popcorn before the movie starts.

The most frustrating thing about all this was that this was an event you paid to attend, with an extensive lecture schedule aimed at educating attendees. It's not like people had to be there if they didn't want to. Many of the behaviors I witnessed were downright disrespectful to both the presenters and the other audience members who were interested in the information. It's pretty sad when a baby is a better listener than adults.

So that's my rant. Let's all work on being better audience members. Even you, Bert.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! I can't even tell you how many time I've given rude folks my "teacher eye" in those kinds of settings.


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