The stars aligned one night last week. A friend had four tickets for a show…..my mom happened to be in town, and faster than you can say ‘free babysitter’, the professor and I jumped at the chance for a night out and headed downtown with two of our friends.
We didn’t really know where we were going or what we’d be seeing, but it didn’t much matter. Our kids were well taken care of and the entertainment was free, so off we went.
To Pecha Kucha.
This strange-named, ambiguous event had something to do with people who present twenty timed slides on a designated topic.
We headed to the Metropolitan Conference Centre and sat down amidst a crowd of hip Calgarians. Someone rose to the podium and welcomed us.
It sounded like she had sneezed a name into the microphone; turning our previously under-pronounced Peh-cha Koo-cha into something….so much more. The professor, who’d actually attended such an event in the States, rolled his eyes. Had we stumbled onto yet another Canadian-American difference? Americans say Pecha Kucha and Canadians say P’chaK’cha?
The event moderator stepped onto the podium and sneezed, similarly. And we four, immature adults, snickered in our seats.
There was a brief break before the featured speakers would begin their presentations, so we walked to the Tim Horton’s next door for a quick sandwich and double double. Because the free popcorn and red licorice at p’chak’cha wasn’t going to cut it for this non-hipster.
In fact, dareIsay, if red licorice were the last food on earth, I still wouldn’t touch it. This proclamation spawned the evening’s second Canadian vs. American comparison. My friend, who claims to loathe American red licorice, insisted that Canadian red licorice is superior.
I agreed to test her claim but couldn’t get past the red, plasticky, fake fruit sensation. Canadian or American, red licorice is gross.
And then it was time to go back to the event. The moderator enlightened us on all things social media, namely the official hashtag for this, the 14th P’chaK’cha in Calgary.
‘Let’s see if we can get it trending,’ he practically shivered at the possibility, not-so-subtly exhorting the hundreds of smartphone users before him to tweet the he*l out of the event.
And that, right there, was the moment [cue Bridget Jones lip-synching All By Myself on the couch] that I had to concede, again, that I’m basically a seventy year old grandma when it comes to social media. I simply don’t get Twitter, or any of it, really.
As I told a handful of slightly younger peers a few weeks ago, ‘I’m the last person on earth without a smartphone,’ and they looked at me and said, ‘yes, you are.’
I’m the person who still attaches directions whenever I give out my address; oblivious to the fact that other people have smartphones and gps and don’t even brush their teeth without looking at their phone, much less operate heavy machinery in unfamiliar city streets.
They hardly need my ‘go north for three blocks then make your first left.’
The theme around which all the presentations would be [loosely] based was ‘Invest’. The first speaker, a very young and very tan looking older man wearing an expensive casual shirt with the sleeves rolled just so, hopped upon the podium energetically and unveiled his series of twenty-second-long slides. He urged us to invest our money and our time wisely. It was good, even if I wondered if the picture of him riding his bike, with [considerable] arm muscles flexed was a bit…de trop.
In between slides, I looked around. It seemed like every other attendee was sitting with a black rectangle in their hand, either texting a friend or waiting for some nugget of something to drop into the Twittersphere.
A few more speakers came and and went and I managed to pay attention to most of them, because twenty slides is really quite manageable, and then came Volunteer Girl, who was somewhat reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon in Election mixed with Rachel McAdams from Mean Girls; her take on volunteerism being ‘I didn’t want to be slogging Kraft Dinner at the local homeless shelter, I wanted to use my skillset.’
Don’t volunteer because you want to help, volunteer because it looks good on your resume and it helps with building a professional and/or social network.
There was another break, for more popcorn and licorice and then we headed back for the last five presenters. ‘I feel outhipstered,’ the professor muttered, ‘like I’m surrounded by a bunch of Tin-Tins wearing flannel shirts.’
I decided it was twitter-worthy. I grabbed his smartphone. I attempted to peck a reasonable facsimile of his professorism into the Twittersphere. I attempted to use the designated hashtag. Ten minutes later, I realized it wasn’t happening and I would have to save it for my old-fashioned blog.
One week later.
Another woman took to the podium. She claimed to be from the Laboratory of Feminist Pataphysics. I had no idea what that meant. Was it anything like Metaphysics? Did it have something to do with ducks? Or the platypus?
It had everything to do with a homonyms and homophones and an amusing tale of beavers being hunted for their testicles and when a beaver felt cornered in pursuit it would bite off its testicles and throw them at the hunter, followed by a picture of the presenter suckling two.stuffed.beavers.
Try to tweet that.