Crazy Canadian Conference

I never thought I’d say this but I hate Canada. It’s gone nuts in every possible way. Here’s the most recent example, and don’t worry, it’s not even about COVID. It’s way beyond that.

The largest professional association in Canada is holding its annual conference virtually. That’s OK, everybody is online, whatever. But the idiot Canadians have come up with a new wrinkle. We can’t just give our talks on Zoom, like all other conferences. No, that would be too out of control.

Instead, people have to record videos of themselves speaking weeks in advance, send them to the organizers, organizers will send them to moderators, and on the day of the actual conference –

– and I want everybody to pause and imagine this –

– we’ll sit in silence, watching the videos of ourselves and others being played by a moderator. Then, everybody will be kicked off the platform because God forbid anybody should let an unscripted, unapproved word or two escape their lips.

That’s it. That’s the conference. This format was chosen after a gigantic scandal where our organization accused everybody in other scholarly organizations (that wanted a normal virtual conference) of being racist.

I’m not speaking at this conference. I mean, nobody is speaking, but I’m not speaking through video either. I’m a moderator who plays the fucken videos. I agreed as a favor to a group of young scholars who wanted me there as a big name. I feel bad for them, me, and scholarship.

Magic Words

Forget the juvenile topic of ghosting, though. Isn’t the belief in the magical properties of the spoken word at the root of the toxic culture that is devouring the Anglophone world? People are incapable of demanding any action from their elected officials because they are so fixated on the words. Ads for mother’s day refer to mothers as “birthing persons.” Pronouns in email signatures. The acronyms. The belief that not naming every single miniscule group in your acronym is akin to physical destruction. The idea that words cause “literal harm.” The rabid insistence that calling yourself a woman makes you one.

All of this brought to you courtesy of the same culture that invented “ghosting” because nobody is capable of getting a hint.