I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. One recent morning I was subjected to a conversation that sent me directly to Facebook for help.
Oh Facebook Timeline, good morning, good morning.
I am working in a coffeeshop. Next to me, a business meeting. A younger woman and an older "mentor" man in their sharp Monday attire. Complicated dynamic to observe: she's here to get advice, but he's feeding off that dynamic and gaining mansplaining momentum as he goes. He loves the sound of his voice more and more. I can't decipher all the words -- it's a loud shop -- but I find his tone so problematic I might leave. One bit of dialogue:
She: I felt like I was sneaking around in the office.
He: You call it sneaking around, I call it taking control.
She's mentioned a Women in Leadership conference she attended. He interrupts her with a story about one time when he was "asking questions nobody would be brave enough to ask." #CRINGE
Oh Facebook Timeline, ethereal dumping ground of ideas, here is a #PARADOX. For my instinct is to somehow interrupt them and call him out on his pontification. (Right now, he's leaning across the table towards her, literally entering her space.) And yet, Facebook Timeline, if I were to intervene it would be socially inappropriate, and more significantly, would be another example of a man interfering with this young woman's agency. Wouldn't it?
Maybe, Facebook Timeline, I should spill a coffee, though the physical configuration of the space would make an "accident" challenging to engineer and thus pointedly obvious as an attack.
He's noticed me looking at him! Now he's dropped his voice down particularly low as he imparts significant advice, Facebook Timeline!
But also, Facebook Timeline, is writing about this online an opportunity to activate change and rally support or is it simply the easy electronic piling on we've come to know in this blue-framed world? Am I part of the nameless mob Jon Ronson's been writing about lately? Did you read that Jon Ronson book or maybe the excerpt in the Times? Did you share it here?
They've left now, thank Mark Z'berg. Back to their offices. The incident is complete. The mansplaining uninterrupted. The status quo perseveres. Another day in London town.
What are we going to do, Facebook Timeline? he asks rhetorically.
What in the bloody hell are we going to do?