A few months ago, suckered in by an online ad for a pre-work pep talk by a clever and just-the-right-sort-of-bonkers brand expert, I attended something called ‘a social media breakfast’. Given my utter hatred of networking events or indeed any business orientated get together, this was altogether out of character. Had I not convinced my friend to be my breakfast date, I probably would have allowed the moment to pass and plump for staying in bed an extra hour. My friend is a networking demon. I don’t even think she knows she’s doing it. People gravitate to her, she gravitates to other people, those people gravitate to other other people – telling each of those about this amazing woman they just met – and somehow they all do that thing we read about in business handbooks. It’s quite marvellous to watch. The sensitivity with which egos are negotiated, the skill with which bullshit is dodged and/or flung from one end of the room to the other and the rate email addresses and Twitter handles are exchanged culminates in some kinda networking gymnastics far beyond my capabilities. That’s not to say I’m utterly socially inept. No. I’m that creep in the corner observing the group dynamic and analysing every fake laugh, every feigned expression of interest and every bite of genuinely fruitful chatter. I’m certainly not a gymnast but I’m pretty sure I could still manage a roly poly should the circumstances demand it.
I thought about what a social media breakfast might be and what it might be like. I imagined myself stuffing napkinfuls of fancy pastries into my handbag and perfectly cooked eggs into my mouth while drinking delicious hot chocolate and freshly squeezed fruit juices. I imagined hanging out with lots of scruffily handsome men with beards and wonderfully stylish women with unusual haircuts and great shoes, all of whom would work in wonderfully creative jobs (of course) and whom I would find so terribly inspiring my face would turn red and shiny with excitement.
My friend and I were last to arrive at the social media breakfast. I am not an early bird, I’ve learned. The setting, a private members club with ideas far above its station, was much too glossy, much too chromey for my blood. Ladies with died blonde hair wearing very pronounced make up ushered us upstairs. I had the stomach lunging feeling that we were destined to be the breakfast club outcasts in our vintage dresses and fuzzy cardigans. As we edged neck first into the meeting suite, we were pretty certain we were destined to be the breakfast club outcasts in our vintage dresses and fuzzy cardigans. There were no scruffily handsome men with beards. There were no women with snazzy hairdos or interesting footwear. Instead of freshly baked pastries, we nibbled bacon rolls and instead of exotic juices we drank mugs of lukewarm tea. Balding men in pinstripe suits took up too much table space. Between their parted legs and ‘elbows out’ attitude, it’s a wonder any women – or indeed neatly framed men – fit in at all.
The branding expert was just as clever as I hoped she would be. Her bonkerness was refreshing yet reassuring and her presentation inspirational. I wasn’t quite so inspired by the grunts from some of the toad-like beings sitting at the table behind us when some other pervo grunter made a joke about the presenter delivering her material nude, just stopping short of heckling, ‘Get yer tits out, love!’ Worse still, when the presenter alluded to one of her clients being in a lesbian relationship, the snorts and fnarring from across the hall wouldn’t have been out of place in a high school common room (and now I’ve typed that, I’m guessing high school common rooms might be much more adult and sophisticated these days). “Lesbians. Lesbians. Lesbians” *rubs pin striped thighs with greasy bacon roll hands*
I like meeting people. I like chatting and hanging out. I enjoy a cup of tea. I’ll even force a lukewarm one down if it’s all that’s going. I find it interesting to hear what other people do for a living. I’m nosey that way. (I’m nosey in lots of ways). However, I do not care for the sexism and I do not care for morons. Neither do I care for people whose main purpose of being anywhere is to blow their own trumpet right in your ear so hard you can kind of feel their expelled trumpet air going right up your nostrils. I am bored, bored, bored by that relentless, shitty root-a-toot-toot-a-me-me-me-root-a-toot-toot tune. I don’t like it and I refuse to believe many other people do either. So. I’m going to learn a new tune – a different one. I cannot play trumpet. I am reflective enough about my own self to know this. I am, however, shit hot on the recorder. I suspect, at first, I’ll probably play my tune quite softly so that only a few people can hear it but as I grow more confident, I reckon I’ll play louder when I oughta. [Note: Louder When I Oughta is a good name for a band].