Bowing … scraping … not to offend

Eve made a comment on Twitter about morality and the recent 27 Dinner so I asked for a followed a link to this post on the somewhat dubiously named Moral Fibre blog where a discussion was raging about aspects of the dinner held at the Primi in Melrose Arch last week. For the most part the discussion was pretty typical of a 27 Dinner post-mortem until Roy jumped in with his criticism of the speakers, the facilities and the evening generally. It was a pretty hard look at the dinner and I think it was an important comment (you can find a slightly edited version of the comment on his blog too).

It was good to see Roy express his opinion about the dinner so openly and completely. I wasn’t at the dinner so I don’t know whether his comments were valid but his honesty is valuable nonetheless. Generally I enjoy going to 27 Dinners although there have been a few which have been disappointing for various reasons. The concept of a 27 Dinner remains a great one but there is room for improvement and innovation (and I know Mike and his team are working hard to improve the dinners).

As good as it was to see Roy take Mike and the speakers to task for their respective mistakes, it was a complete let down to then see a lengthy apology posted so soon after the initial criticism. I am not against apologies, I make them all the time, but why apologise for speaking out about these issues particularly where the intention was clearly to provide constructive feedback in the hopes that future dinners would be better?

When I read the usual comments and posts about these sorts of events and how amazing everything is and what geniuses we all are, it reminds me about the old MSN Chat parties I used to attend back in the day (before blogging, yes, way back then) where everyone was known by their chat nicknames and there was anything but authenticity. People pretended to be their online personas and few people were actually themselves, warts and all. In a way this is how I see the local blogging scene generally. Blogging and social media is supposed to be about authenticity but that is not what people really want to see from each other. Sure it is important to evangelise the importance of authenticity when preaching to clients about their next social media implementation or project but deep down, people just don’t want to see that sort of authenticity staring them in the face.

I don’t think Roy should have apologised because some people may have or did feel offended. If his criticism was accurate then I think it needed to be expressed. For my part I attend 27 Dinners to catch up with people I haven’t seen for a while and if there is an intelligent, well-presented talk about a relevant topic then that adds a whole new dimension to the evening. If the talk is more of the same, badly presented or just some background noise then I am probably missing out on an opportunity to really take in some shared knowledge.

Maybe the lesson to take from Roy’s criticism is that there are ways to improve the formula, step up the game a bit and make 27 Dinners even better.

Then again I may just have totally incongruent expectations of these dinners and the formula works for most people in which case, keep doing what you are doing and enjoy.

Either way, Roy’s retraction deflated the impact of his criticism and somewhere out there an authenticity fairy died a cold and lonely death.

Image credit: 27 Dinners Opener by Roy Blumenthal licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license

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