If you're like me, a bored busybody with time on their hands, you like to attend public forums and free lectures. Usually hosted by tertiary institutions, it's a way of reliving your uni days without all that tiresome, non-stop partying and cheap liquor.
They're usually enjoyable and thought provoking evenings. But there's a basic etiquette that is never observed when it comes time for the speaker to take questions and it's driving me nuts.
If your question begins with, "I'm just keen to get your thoughts on," and ends twenty minutes later after a meandering and barely relevant diatribe, that's not a question. That's you wasting an audience's time, while the speaker they've all come to hear stands politely idle, counting down the moments until she/he receives a token bottle of thank you red and can get out of there.
If what you say into the handheld audience mic isn't aimed at prompting a response from the speaker, you may as well be the guy on Swanston St standing on a bench with a megaphone dribbling on about how psychiatrists in conjunction with the Mayor are colluding to steal your thoughts to sell on Amazon.
And using a slight raising inflection at the end of your final sentence, after the moderator has attempted to wrap you up three times, doesn't suddenly convert your rant into a query.
If everyone wanted to hear what you thought; you and your hole riddled knitwear would be at the lectern.
Just last week, I was at a book launch and lecture by former Labor Party Leader, Mark Latham. The questions were longer than Hamlet and the fact Mark didn't run at them, fists blazing, to alleviate his and our frustration is proof that man has changed.
What bothers me the most is if you've got ill-informed analysis and half-baked conspiracy theories you feel need a public airing, there are dozens of mediums and platforms to trumpet your nonsense. Start a blog, tweet, produce a podcast: the internet means you can shop and soapbox from the comfort of your own home, compound or chicken wire, government-safe fortress under a bridge. There's no need to rock along to Melbourne University, ask a half-hour long question and then talk over the answer. You can be a jerk in cyberspace, where no one else is affected.
Thank you. I'll now take questions...