I gave a presentation yesterday at the Liberal Arts Symposium. Sounds cooler than it was. Trust me.
First issue of the day: I had to dress uber-nice. I'm a T-shirt and shorts girl. Put some heels and a dress jacket and a silk shirt on, and I'm needing an extra shot of espresso that morning.
Issue No. 2: I'm presenting in front of my colleagues. My smart colleagues. The dean of my college. The honors professor. Some of my students. Well, dang...
Issue No. 3: I finished up my presentation about 12 hours before I was going to present it.
Naturally, I was nervous, then, when it came to be my turn. My leg was bouncing up and down as I sat and waited for the associate dean to announce my name. I got up and gave the presentation, which turned out fairly well. I didn't stumble once, though I did have to rely on my papers too much, but I spoke clearly and presented my ideas well. Score one for me!!
Then Dude speaks up.
I refer to him as "Dude" because any other characteristic would just not be nice, and, as you see from the title of this blog, I need to be nice. Unlike him.
I can't really remember the first question he asked me. He did not make his question clear, so I couldn't figure out exactly what he was asking. Then he made some reference to the election between Nixon and JFK (which I mentioned VERY BRIEFLY in my presentation) and said something to me about how I needed to know my history if I was going to teach it.
I turned red. I was stunned at his outright rudeness.
(Honestly, it shouldn't have surprised me. He told me colleague that he -- my coworker -- was reinforcing stereotypes and encouraging prejudices. Yep.)
Before I had time to react, he asked, "And how is this new? Why are you researching this? It's not new."
I had several smart-aleck remarks in my mind about his ignorance, his inconsideration, and his obvious lack of awareness during my presentation. But I paused and then responded.
"Actually, Obama was the first president to use the Internet in such a way to build relationships with the voters," I said. "No other presidential candidate has ever text messaged or e-mailed voters to encourage them to attend rallies, to raise money, or to go to the polls. Actually, this is very new."
What I really wanted to say was:
"You're an idiot who obviously did not pay attention to my presentation about NEW MEDIA. How in God's green earth did you think that the Internet is NOT new? Are you just asking stupid questions to tick me off? Because it WORKED."
But I didn't. And why?
Because, as Thumper so eloquently said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
But I did think it.