Yesterday we had an all-faculty meeting, as is the tradition once a month at our private SLAC. These generally end up being hour-long sessions where various Admins get up to make announcements and simultaneously show off their assistants' PowerPoint skills. Most faculty show up and look somewhat attentive. Given that I had an extra load of grading (which is also what has kept me away from this blog), I brought my laptop to the meeting, and, along with about twelve others (out of a group of 150), worked silently throughout the meeting.
Halfway through the meeting, one of the Administrators addressed a friend of mine whose iPad was open in front of her, and asked her to do a basic online search on something pertinent to the discussion. Said person complied, but then, after providing the info, hurriedly collected all belongings and left the meeting.
An hour later, I received a text from this friend requesting that I meet her for coffee to discuss "the. most. humiliating. experience. ever." I did not equate the experience with humiliation, but apparently, said colleague felt she had been humiliated in front of the whole faculty by being singled out in such a manner.
I tried to assure her that no one would have assumed she was being humiliated in front of everyone and that even the Admin requesting the info was not doing so to single her out. She is insistent that it was the most humiliating experience of her life and that she can never return to another faculty meeting.
So am I just missing something huge here? I feel like a bad friend for not supporting her and bolstering her by saying, "You're right; it was embarrassing." But to me, there was nothing embarrassing about it and I feel that if I claimed there were, it would simply encourage her hysterics. I wouldn't have felt humiliated if the Admin had asked me to look something up on my laptop (which was more visible than her iPad).
I've had embarrassing moments in teaching: usually involving tripping and falling, or sneezing and passing gas in front of students, but I just didn't see that her experience was humiliating.
What do the rest of you think? And if you feel like sharing humiliating experiences to help her situate her experience on the "spectrum of humiliation," that might help, too.