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Opinions of Monday, 12 February 2018

Columnist: Rami Baitie

It's toooo long!

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I heartily detest anything that runs too long. Well....not absolutely everything, but most.

I'm referring mainly to things like speeches, emails, posts on social media, prayers, boring books, and anecdotes. I may not be referred to as a young man anymore but one thing I do share with younger people is a short attention span. I am sorry to say that as I have grown older I find myself increasingly intolerant of people who draaaag everything they do. I mean, like, really intolerant.

Why should I be forced to sit through a speech that is filled with unnecessary words, unnecessary cliches, unnecessary stories, being read by someone who seems to be a quite unnecessary speaker? Now, that may seem rather harsh, and I am not saying that a speech should always be short. But I believe very strongly that people generally prefer to listen to an abbreviated speaker. I'm sure there is a scientific study somewhere that shows that the human brain begins to tune out from a speech after a certain number of minutes. And if there is no such study then I am inventing it....

How many of us seriously read through long emails? Especially poorly constructed and poorly punctuated mails? Not many of us I would venture to say. And if you are sending emails that are not being read then what is the point? Yes, it is possible to spend a bit of time over an email you are sending and make sure it is clear, concise, and interesting.

I love reading as I have said a couple of times on this blog. Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of always finishing a book I start. This is a bad habit because sometimes the book is not an engaging read. And yet I cannot bring myself to stop. Hence, a long boring read. I've tried to apply the same principle to this blog, but I don't think I have succeeded.

Speaking of blogs and other social media activities, I positively detest long WhatsApp messages! And that includes videos! Ebei! When you start a message or post on WhatsApp and it's only vaguely entertaining or arresting, and you start to scroll as you read, and you scroll, and you scroll....that's when my thumb loses interest and informs my brain to move on to other things. I feel guilty sometimes, but hey....And if there is a video which is more than 5 minutes long....although thanks to WhatsApp I am discovering loads of videos of old songs, and I love them!

The worst long thing I dislike? Meetings! What is it with some people and long meetings? You know the ones I mean. I'm sure you have some in your office, your church, your club.....your home?? These are the people who honestly believe that a meeting only works if it lasts over two least. I worked in the corporate world for 28 years and there are always at least 5 people in every company who think that if you attend a long meeting you are working.

Alongside these people are those who delight in scheduling meetings for Friday afternoon at 4 pm (or 5 pm if they can get away with it). These are the cretins that make you wonder if they have a home or a social life of any sort. And they are the ones who will ensure that the meeting drags on for as long as possible, just so we can all see that they are 'working'. If they are prevailed upon by other staff members they will 'allow' the meetings to take place on other days apart from Fridays, but it must be after 5 pm! They should have rented out the vacant lot between their ears and left us in peace.

For better or for worse I was one of those people who believed in having a stress-free Friday. I saw Fridays as a time to review the past week, mop up any uncompleted work, reflect on it, regroup, think ahead, and prepare yourself for the week ahead. Of course, if a meeting could only be fixed for a Friday then so be it, but if it could be on another day I would earnestly advocate for it to be shifted. This attitude was a good way of leaving the weekend free for family, rest, sport (real or television!), and other social interactions. If you don't believe in a Work/Life balance, please call me and let me tell you about myocardial infarctions.

One of the side-effects of a long meeting for me was usually sleeping. Seriously, I'm not kidding. No, truly, I mean it. I worked at a couple of companies where I am pretty sure I was the reigning heavyweight champion of sleeping during meetings! Eish! The only thing that probably saved me during these encounters with somnolence was the fact that I do not snore! Yes, there were some who snored....

I wish I could write about how regretful I am about these incidents of dozing off; but I am not. In fact, looking back, there are some meetings that should have started with me saying "Sleep tight!" as I reclined and shut my eyes! These were meetings that were a total waste of time; meetings that were instigated so that someone could check a box and say, "I've done it"; meetings that were a forum for someone to rant and rave to no ultimate purpose; meetings that were a convenient space for someone to hear their own voice and practice their lousy speech-making skills.

And I blame the proponents of long meetings for this! Or....wait....maybe I should thank them for the chance to the middle of the day....or at the end of the day....when I should be heading home! I hate to make generalised statements but these people who advocate long meetings all seem to have the intellectual capacity of a doorknob.

A debatable point of length is Christianity. How long should a sermon be? How long should a service be? How long should a prayer be? Well, I am no authority on these. All I know is that I have a relationship with God, a very intimate relationship, and we make it last as long as we like because it's only the two of us. However, if you start to doze off during every single sermon you attend at your church, it's probably not the church for you. If you find the service stretches on forever and you lose focus and become irritable long before the end, it's probably not the congregation for you.

Prayers? Very personal and very intimate, but when a corporate prayer is being offered, surely the person praying can be considerate of others. Instead, in this country, the person praying goes to great lengths (literally) to show how they can pray copiously and eloquently. Thank God He doesn't have an attention span like me....

And what about long introductions? The ones delivered by people who believe that if they do not read out a guests entire CV then they will have offended the esteemed guest. Guests like the Chairman at a wedding; what purpose exactly does the Chairman at a wedding serve? The introduction usually takes as long as the Best Man's toast, the response, the cake cutting, and the vote of thanks, all combined. And then someone tries to sneak in an anecdote, someone who has never heard that brevity is the soul of wit....

Anyone know of a sport that can take too long? I suppose any sport that you are not a fan of can take forever. Chess, anybody? Marathons? American football....?

Long phone calls? Especially when you are being forced to eavesdrop?? Don't let me start....

So I began by saying I disliked almost all things that took a long time....what about a long sleep? people sleep for a long time because they are tired or because they want to escape from something? Deep, right?? Right??? Me, deep???? Nonsense!

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