A man schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules a meeting, the meeting schedules the man.
Did you know there’s a virus going around? I don’t mean the one that’s so bad it makes me look back on Brexit news with nostalgia.
I’m taking about Meetingytis, a dangerous condition that if left untreated can turn you into a full blown Meetingaholic.
This may not sound like a big deal. Most of us work in environments where meetings are an accepted form of life. What else are managers going to do all day? But while your boss does it because he loves the sound of his own voice, Meetingaholics do it out of a pathological fear of having a meeting-less agenda.
‘It took over my life’ confesses Sean Down, an addict who wants to remain anonymous (but I forgot). ‘I ended up neglecting my family, friends and my personal hygiene. At work I’d go to any meeting that would take me. I even participated in the ‘Accountant’s Lunch Catch Up’, which was not only useless (I work in IT) but drop dead dull.’
Sean admits gate-crashing meetings to feed his addiction. ‘Sales meeting were the easiest to infiltrate. They were all drunk or hungover’.
He recalls his shameful past, ‘I reached rock bottom when I caught myself going to ‘HUMAN RESOURCES: WE’RE HERE TO HELP’ (voluntary attendance). It was just me. That’s when I decided to ask for help’.
Help is not easy to come by. Traditional programs based on AA’s ‘My name is Sean and I am a Meetingaholic’ do not work as they involve yet another meeting, feeding the addiction even further.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the Meetingytis strain has mutated and we face an even more devastating virus: ZOOM-MONELLA. Born out of the need to stay connected during lockdown, people suffering from ZOOM-MONELLA feel compelled to attend meetings ‘virtually’ 24 hours a day!
The latest casualty (an engineer from Surrey), was forcefully removed from his shed which had more screens, graphs and satellites than NASA’s control room. His loving wife tearfully admits, ‘Intervention was a necessary evil. He had turned into a ZOOM-BIE’.
Think this has nothing to do with you? Think again. How many times have you ZOOMED into a meeting and thought, ‘When is this going to end?’. Or worse, had the temptation to MUTE everything, pretend to listen while secretly watching DAS BOOT series 2? Or was that just me?
‘ANTI-MEETING’ lobbies around the world are calling for new laws to tackle the problem. Not by punishing the addicts, but by penalizing the ‘MEETING DEALERS’. Charming and persuasive, these criminals lure innocent victims into attendance with promises of coffee, Krispy Cremes and ‘It’s only 5 minutes.’ Without realizing it, the victim is subjected to ‘The Gateway Meeting’ (meeting to program future meetings) and addiction is inevitable.
Spokesperson for ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’, Rupa Datta comments, ‘There are different approaches to dealing with meeting addiction around the world. Some countries place a greater emphasis on law enforcement - while others do not’.
In the UK steps are being taken to create legislation to classify them into three groups – A, B and C.
Class A are the most harmful and include PowerPoint Presentations, (PPP is now an identified form of torture).
Class B includes meetings where someone with an ego the size of the UK debt hogs up all the stage time.
Class C includes people saying ‘I’ll be brief’.
Rupa continues, ‘Progress is slow due to lawmakers’ endless meetings. In the meantime, we should all be doing our part to stop this terrible disease’.
In order to do that, ‘Just Say NO to Meetings’ has published the following guideline that will help stop addiction before it even starts:
Sonia Aste is a comedian and a writer who avoids meetings like the plague. Find her on Twitter @SoniaAste