Falling into Faith


She proclaimed the virtue of not succumbing to insecurity, yet began by highlighting how nervous she was, and that she needed the audience to close their eyes, which failed to alleviate it. So she asked some volunteers to come on stage to goof off and break the tension for her.

She explained how the last thing she wanted was to feel overly needy, "the grossest feeling ever," yet as part of her presentation had a brief video hangout with her coworkers, who were standing by a thousand miles away to provide live "moral support." After which she struggled to bring back her slides and needed an organizer to step in.

She emphasized the importance of letting people be human beings, with all their diverse and varied abilities, yet did not seem to realize the impossibly stifling professionalism she rejected was actually a framework to allow even irreconcilable differences to be overcome, in service of a common goal.

She talked about how tech features some of the most talented and privileged members of society, who can "create gold out of air," yet criticized a mindset that favors rationality over emotionality. This is the main thing that actually lifted humanity back out of the dark ages to make it possible for her to be there.

A person who praised the emotional intelligence of self-restraint, persistence and self-awareness failed to practice all three, by spilling her feelings out, immediately falling back to others for support and assistance, and not even realizing she was undermining her own points. She seemed to view criticism of emotionality as mere denial, an unwillingness to be honest with oneself, but was using it as a shield in that exact same way.

Most of all, it rang hollow to criticize others for having privilege just for showing up, when her own demeanor seemed to be falling into the role of the innocent, wounded lamb, spinning the yarn for all it was worth. Her notion of her dream job seemed to be exactly the most privileged one, free from significant differences of opinion or character, working only with those who would validate her in all the ways she wanted. A job which she now had.

Now, if a speaker makes a point by phoning home on the spot, that's one thing, and everyone knows live demos are cursed. But would it really be desirable if everyone else walked on stage as a quivering reed, requiring a pat on the back to make it through, flailing along the way? You don't have to tell me about the stress, I have given talks that are live demos from start to finish, in front of hundreds of faces and a camera, and it's not easy. But that's up to me to deal with and mitigate, through careful preparation and practice.

So, if this talk was so self-contradictory, why did it resonate? Well, because it hit all the right notes. She was a young mother showing pictures of her daughter, whom she wanted to teach what it meant to be a good person. There was struggle and redemption, in the form of a lost sheep finding her way out of the cold, dark desert and into a warm oasis of love and support. There was talk of her own internalized sexism, which she let go of, and the importance of inclusion and diversity. Back then those words still passed by with little notice, but today they are completely charged with moral goodness, and fighting evil.