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June 10, 2015

Isn't It Time America Was Grown-Up and Tough-Minded Enough To Admit That No One's Paying Any Fucking Attention on Conference Calls?

No seriously, who is actually paying attention?

Look, we all know we only listen when we hear ourselves talking (and usually we don't even pay much attention that that).

Why are we pretending that conference calls are anything other than what they clearly are? They are timesucks. They are timesucks put on by bosses who for some reason can't write an email.

I have a theory that any conversation involving more than three our four people is going to be worthless and filthily dishonest. If some asshole proposes another asshole idea, am I going to honestly say in a conference call, "Hey, let's put a pin in that, but I'd like to circle back around later to say how utterly worthless I find this worthless shit-brain's worthless ideas?"

Work discussions, like sex, should be strictly limited to three people. Three is pretty much the perfect number. Everyone gets enough attention paid to them, but if you get bored, and you can put on Captain America: Winter Soldier while the other two are diddling each other.

Oh, just on talking in general: If you ever talk to me, you should know, no offense, and no insult, but I'm almost certainly not paying attention to what you're saying. I have lost all ability to focus the past couple of years. The internet has trained me to look for the next hyperlink. So if I poke your face while you're talking, that's me trying to click on your hyperlink on your mouth to get you to talk about something else, like The Batman.

So I always find myself in situation where I am expected to say something but have not followed the conversation for a good three or four minutes. So, I don't know what you do, but here's what I do: I begin babbling out nearly random words, things floating in my subconscious which may be faint echoes of things you might have actually said in the last minute, and then I look intently at your eyes and mouth to see if any of these Random Words triggers any kind of response from you.

And if I see you nod, or if I see an eye open a little wider, I go "Hot balls! That's a hit!" and I begin babbling about that random word in a simulacrum of a dialogue, which is not a dialogue at all.

It's like going to Page 83-A in one of those Dungeons and Dragons Choose your Own Adventure books. You may feel like the adventure is tailored for you, but it's actually a weird combination of "random" and "pre-planned."

Anyway, sorry about that. But look, you know what I do for a living and you know what I do for fun, which is nothing at all. I live in almost complete isolation, and I'm not complaining.

Obviously I'm not exactly a Social Star. Don't take it personally.

I'm probably daydreaming about Batman. Don't mind me.

But I just thought of a good way to cover when you're caught not listening on a conference call, like when someone stops talking and asks you for your opinion, and you haven't heard a word of what he said because you were making trades in your fantasy baseball league.

Here, try this: Say, "Sorry, I was just taking down some notes about what [the previous speaker before the last one] was saying, all caught up now, could you repeat?"

That way, you look studious and conscientious, and the previous speaker is all like, "Holy shit, that guy gets me and gets what's important in this business. I'm going to buy that Obvious Genius a steak dinner."

Anyway, just passing along the wisdom that my near-complete divorce from the human race has taught me.

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posted by Ace at 06:24 PM

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