does anybody actually like motivational speakers?

via Twitter and the one and only InspiroBot

I mean, I guess somebody does. Maybe. Or maybe somebody just thinks that they’re going to get other people hyped up. I have no clue. All I know is: I had to listen to another one of them today, and I hate all motivational speakers. Maybe this is because my philosophy in life is The Worst Is Coming™, or maybe it’s that I tend to respond negatively to emotional appeals (give me DATA, damn it!). Maybe it’s the general sense of immense privilege, which makes me consider the French Revolution. Maybe it’s none of the above. I really don’t know.

Presumably someone out there actually likes motivational speakers, or at least assumes that they’ll be motivating—otherwise, one assumes that they would never get hired. (I mean, I hope they wouldn’t.) What does motivate me might be a little warped, I’ll admit that: after all, I still think that Carl Hiassen’s Expect the Worst is hilarious, exceptionally sage advice, and also inspiring. (Maybe even motivating!) Tell me the worst is coming—which I already tend to assume—and I guess I might actually be motivated to deal with it, rather than sit in a dark corner of my office and hope no one notices me. But stand someone up to tell me to smile a lot and believe in the best, and you’ve lost me. I’ll read the news while mocking the speaker and grousing about my dues paying for this damn garbage.

It might just be me—that’s a definite chance—but both of the motivational speakers I’ve had to sit through for library conferences have been at least moderately offensive, and quite dripping with privilege. I suppose it’s great to be that cocksure and that fiscally safe. I wouldn’t know, being a woman with an invisible disability and a lot of pain and not much money. The last one—who was definitely dripping with money—sticks out for mocking Hindu mudras. (I almost stood up to scream at him then and there, but I figured that shrieking wouldn’t help my case. I did say, when asked for feedback, that his speech was painfully offensive and an atrocious use of our money.)

Today’s speaker talked a talk, I guess—a slyly racist, openly classist, very privileged talk. (Also the speaker is one of those sods who talks to you in elevators as you try to avoid eye contact.) I spent a decent chunk of today’s motivational speaker reading the news; during the rest of the conference, I took around ten pages of notes, all on my cell phone when my wrists hurt too much to keep on writing by hand. (Our motivational speaker would have disapproved: after all, I apparently can’t type and pay attention at the same time. Joke’s on you, Motivational Speaker Bro.) I didn’t want motivation, though. I wanted down and dirty information, and data, and tools with which to arm myself in the face of what may come.

People like motivational speakers, I assume, or they wouldn’t get hired. (I think they’re a waste of money, personally.) Maybe it’s the bleak outlook, or some slight piece of truth in the pseudoscience known as Myers Briggs, or the pseudoscience known as the Sorting Hat (and its scientific quiz, now a science paper), but I’m far more likely to b demotivated than motivated by someone sent in to inspire me. Today, at least, I mocked the speaker, and plotted comments on the feedback forms, and took ten pages of notes (because the other sessions were actually really good!), and then finished off the day with a trip to the polls. The least motivating, and least useful, part of my day? That would be the motivational speaker—and I’m pretty sure it clocked in at even more useless than the time I spent in traffic jams.

InspiroBot strikes again. Twitter.

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