We gather around the tables, all hyped up on Coca-Cola. At some point, the conference organizers will realize that a cocaine-laced beverage is probably not the best refreshment before a long-winded workshop on "Pencil Citizenship in the Pencilsphere."
So, it begins with an Ice Breaker. A simple glimpse at the hashtags on our pen pal networks would suggest that the ice isn't all that frozen. If anything, we might need a lesson on being kinder in our comments (myself included). But it's the culture of this thing, where quick wit, novelty and sound bytes are more important than story and sustainability.
I'm not sure why we need an ice breaker. We're at a conference, and we're speed-dating for acquaintances we'll never see again. It's not that important that I know your trivial background or that you know mine. So, you met William McKinley? Nice, but not beneficial to me. So, I once played on a barnstorming baseball team? Again, not that important.
The choice this time is People Bingo. It consists of running around and getting signatures for trivial facts about people's lives. As if Bingo wasn't already the lamest game ever, we have to take away the gambling and turn it into an autograph party. Fun. Not. All of a sudden the Wednesday night smoke-field Bingo room just got a lot cooler.
I start envisioning new Ice Breakers. How about Extreme People Bingo, where you have to wrestle people to get a signature? Or what about turning People Bingo into a drinking game? I've given workshop presentations before and I'll tell you that I wouldn't mind having a slightly liquored-up crowd. (If you are in the Temperance Movement, please don't be offended. I am not advocating public drunkenness)
Ice breakers generally fail for two reasons: Extroverts don't need the ice broken and introverts need the ice to melt slowly. So, it is a waste of time for one group and socially awkward for the other. I fall into the socially awkward category, so I use People Bingo as a time for a quick escape. I wander the conference hall for a bit and then step outside into the cool summer air. Call me icy if you must, but the loud chattering voices are a bit much. Let me hear the breeze.