The Elusive Generation

One thing I have found working with young people in both libraries and churches is that it is very hard to reach the college/young singles groups. A lot of time is spent at libraries trying to devise programs to bring in this  elusive age group. I’ve seen churches dealing with the same thing. Trying to answer the question of how to draw in this demographic. I think part of this problem can be solved by trying to figure out how we lost them in the first place.

Most of us attend church or go to the library for the first time as children and are brought by our parents. I think most libraries and churches do a very good job of providing what families with young children are looking for. For the most part, the kids enjoy the experience and even if they didn’t, they are a captive audience. They have to go where their parents take them. I have rarely seen a church or library devoid of children. The beginning middle school age is similar. They still mostly arrive with parents(unless the library is within walking distance) and still enjoy attending library classes and church events. Sports and school are starting to get busier, but not at the same level as high school. After this, though, is when things start to get harder.

In high school, kids have more school work, a more active social life, more activities and more freedom. They no longer have to go when the parents go. The parents can be at church or the library without dragging the kids along. The kids are busy with school and friends and won’t just show up at the library or at church just because it’s there. There has to be a very compelling reason for them to show up.  They won’t attend library classes or youth groups that are mostly geared toward younger kids. They won’t attend scheduled events and classes just because they are there. It takes more work to hold the interest of the older teens. Unfortunately, this means in many cases the older teens drift away and we focus our attention on the younger kids who show up.

After drifting away, the teens then go to college. This takes them even further away from the home church/library, gives them more freedom and much busier lives. They might go to the library on campus to study, but they aren’t flocking to the public library on break to pick up books or attend events. They might fall out of the habit of attending church while away and balk at attending with the family while they are home. Eventually, they graduate and start their independent lives. If we are lucky, once they have kids they will remember how much they loved church or the library when they were younger and come back with their kids, but until then they typically are hard to reach.

So, what does this all mean? I think that it would be better to take a look at the high school and college years to determine how to keep them from drifting away rather than how to get them back once they are gone. We need to look for classes and events that will keep the older teens and college students interested. Churches need to have separate classes for middle school, high school and college students. Grouping them all in to one class does them all a disservice and usually results in the material being too young for the older teens. Libraries need to hold events and classes geared toward older teens and keep at it until you find the right ones. Don’t give up and focus on the younger kids because it’s easy. Libraries should try to hold events in the summer to attract the college kids home for the summer. If we can figure this out, we won’t have to worry about bringing them back. They will never leave.

Why I Keep My Facebook Public

I generally keep most of my Facebook statuses public. Periodically, something happens that makes me consider changing that. Usually, it’s when some random person I don’t know decides to take offense at something I shared without actually reading the article or knowing why I shared it. I always make the decision to stay public. Here are my reasons why:

1. The only time anyone reads this ridiculous blog is when it posts to Facebook.   If I’m going to insist on writing stupid stuff on occasion, I would like to get a few hits. The only way that happens is if a lot of people see it on Facebook. Keeping it public allows for the possibility of new people reading it.

2. I enjoy seeing random people who are friends of friends liking my posts on Facebook. It is a narcissism thing, I know, but I like to see that my posts are reaching people outside of my circle of friends.

3. I don’t post things I wouldn’t want my boss, mom or pastor(all friends on Facebook) to see. I admit that I do share some articles, mainly by Drew Magary, that have profanity, but I have issues several warnings about those. Besides those, most of my posts are random innocuous thoughts from the weird place that is my head and boring posts about what I’m doing. No reason to hide that.

4. Along those same lines, it makes me thinks about what I post. If I have filters and assume they are working I might feel comfortable posting in anger something I will regret. If I know the whole world could see it it makes me thinks about what I’m about to say. 

5. Last, and most important, I think I’m hilarious and that the world should not be deprived of my humor. Everyone should get a chance to read my posts. Why should my friends be the only ones who get to enjoy the awesome and hilarious Tater?

A Song of Ice and Wah

The only thing more popular than Game of Thrones these days is writing blog posts and articles saying you are done with Game of Thrones. I get why people don’t want to watch a show that has rape scenes, murders, deaths of favorite characters, etc. What I don’t get is how people watched for five seasons and just now realized the show is extremely dark and depicts scenes of very bad things happening to people.

Below there be spoilers

In the first season a young boy is thrown out a window after he witnesses the queen having sex with her brother.

A guy is killed by molten gold being poured on his head.

Ned Stark is beheaded.

It gets worse from there. There is the red wedding, the Cersei and Jaime scene that most believe was rape and then this season we have the repeated rape and beating of Sansa, a little girl burned as a sacrifice and a fan favorite being killed.

I get that these scenes are very hard to watch. I get that plenty of people don’t want to watch a show with these scenes. I have no problem with someone deciding not to watch the show. What I have a problem with is how it seems to now be the fashion for reviewers, writers, etc to loudly announce that they will stop watching the show because of all the bad stuff. OK, that’s great. Why did you keep watching until now? It’s no secret that the Game of Thrones world is a brutal world and is especially bad for women. It’s been shown over and over again. It’s been shown not just with the brutality on-screen, but with the scenes where Daenerys struggles to try to change the status quo as a ruler.  If this is something you can’t watch, you probably should have stopped watching in season one or reading after book one.

Again, I’m fine with someone deciding not to watch the show for personal reasons.  Everyone has the right to make their own decisions on what to watch and what to read and when to stop watching a reading. The problem I have are the bandwagon people who are jumping on the “I’m never watching again” bandwagon because it is the in thing these days. Stop watching if you want. Just don’t feel the need to tell the world about it in a “look at me. I’m better than you” blog post or review.

Me No Talk Good

As I resign myself to the fact that I will not get a job offer after my last interview, I also resign myself to the fact that my poor interview skills will likely prevent me from ever getting a new job. I’m just not good at speaking in front of other people. It doesn’t matter if it is a large room full of people at a conference or just a couple of people at a table. If it is a formal setting I get nervous, talk too fast and ramble. I could speak in front of a crowd or interview every day and the best I would ever be at it is mediocre. It seems weird considering I have a Communications degree, but it’s just not something I’m good at. That’s why I concentrated on taking classes in mass communications. I was horrible when I did my public speaking course and I’m really not good even in some informal settings unless I know the people well. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not comfortable with mingling at social or business events. I’m probably bad at it even when talking to people I know. They’re just too nice to tell me.

Unfortunately., it doesn’t matter how good I look on paper or how good I am at my job. If I can’t convey that verbally. I will never do anything other than what I am now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most days I like my job. I like my coworkers. I have some good friends at work. I just hate that my lack of communication skills makes me feel like I’m stuck. It’s hard to know that I am completely happy where I am when I know there is no option to leave. It also limits my willingness to pass along my expertise at the MLA/DLA Conference. I might feel like I know a lot about a topic that should be presented at conference, but I would never volunteer to lead a session. I just quietly stay in the background, writing the pub quiz and offering a few suggestions along the way.

20 years in to my career and 46 years old is probably the time to accept my limitations and make the most of where I am and who I am. I’m the quiet guy in the corner who does good work and that should be enough.

The 2015 Fall TV Schedule

Here is my much awaited(by no one) post about the fall 2015 tv schedule. My quick take is that it is kind of boring. My night by night what I will watch is below the grid stolen from tvline.com.

  
Sunday Night: not much exciting here. We will continue watching Madam Secretary and Brooklyn 99 and Last Man on Earth if I catch up on this season over the summer. I don’t think any of the new shows sound like they are worth watching, but the Don Johnson factor might make me give Oil a try. 

Monday Night: I used to watch The Voice regularly, but it’s on way too much and I don’t like it enough to commit to that many hours a week. I know a lot of people don’t like how Gotham is twisting the stories, but since I don’t care about the source material that much, I’m enjoying it and will keep watching. Otherwise, Supergirl is the only show I will watch. Dawn watches Scorpion, but I’m not a fan.

Tuesday Night: this is the busy night for me. Too much stuff in and not enough DVR/time to watch. I lose 2 hours of DVR time recording the NCIS shows for Dawn, so that sucks. I don’t watch either one. Flash and iZombie are two  of my favorite new shows this season. Fresh Off the Boat is the best new comedy this season and I think The Grinder has potential to be very good. We still watch SHIELD even though we are weeks behind right now. I also really want to watch Scream Queens, I guess we will start using On Demand a lot more next season.

Wednesday Night: we still like The Middle and we watch Arrow. We will continue to record them while watching Survivor on another TV. It is one of the few shows I still insist on watching live. We will continue watching Modern Family and I assume Jessica will keep watching Supernatural. I will probably try Code Black. I like hospital shows and this one looks high on medical drama and low on soap opera type story lines.

Thursday Night:  i will follow up on the Code Black lack of soap opera type stores with the admission that I still watch Grey’s Anatomy. Jessica watches Vampire Diaries and I also still watch Bones, so two wlll be recorded and one watched live on another Tv. Otherwise, Blacklist will be what we watch. Though, I love Maggie Lawson, so that might make me watch Angel From Hell even though I think  Jane Lynch is overrated.

Friday Night:  I still love Amazing Race and Jessica and I are fans of Last Man Standing. I will probably try People are Talking because I like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tone Bell.  We will watch Grimm and Dawn will watch Hawaii Five-0 and I will continue to watch Blue Bloods.

Saturday Night:  Nothing to see here until BBC shows start.

Midseason: DC Legends of a Tomorrow, The 100 and Night Shift are three I hope start sooner rather than later. 

Redemption Isn’t Just for Coupons

One of the big news stories these days is that doctors are saying John Hinckley’s mental illness is in remission and that he should be released. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after attempting to assassinate President Reagan in 1981. The government opposes this, and from posts I’ve seen online, apparently a good portion of America feels the same. Now, I’m not Hinckley’s doctor (or anyone’s doctor for that matter) so I can’t say for sure he is no longer exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, but I do have a problem with the idea that he should never be released. There are likely numerous people who were convicted of murder since 1981, were not mentally ill and have since been released. Why is Hinckley different? Is it because he shot famous people? Is it because we don’t believe the mentally ill can be helped? Or is it that we overwhelmingly believe that no one should be released after these crimes and we speak up on this one because it is in the news? I think it is the latter. We don’t believe in rehabilitation and redemption(except in the case of coupons)

Some recent cases:

Large numbers of people believe Michael Vick should never be allowed to play football again because he was arrested on animal cruelty charges. They don’t care if he has changed, knows what he did was wrong and never plans to do it again. He should be punished forever!

Large numbers of people think Ray Lewis should never have been allowed to play football because he was involved in an altercation which resulted in someone being killed(not by him) and he was stupid and ran and tried to protect his friends. It doesn’t matter that everything about his life after that indicated a complete change in the way he lived. He should be punished forever!

I also see some of this in responses to the numerous news reports about people being shot by the police. There are a large number of people who imply that the people shot deserved it for breaking the law. I blogged about that here last year in reference to a police chase gone bad.  The feeling is that they broke the law so they no longer deserve to live.

Of course, this all changes the minute you have a loved one who gets in trouble. Or if you do something wrong. Then we are all about forgiveness and redemption.

I’m not saying Hinckley is cured. I don’t know that. I’m not a doctor, but neither are you. But it’s not really about that. It’s about people not wanting to see Hinckley given a chance at life because he shot a famous person over 30 years ago.

What the Duck?

Yesterday in Facebook trending topics I found articles about the guy from Duck Dynasty speaking at an event. During the speech, he told a story which was basically the plot of a snuff film about an atheist family being raped and murdered. I’m not even sure what point he was trying to make with the story. Non-Christians don’t know that murder and rape is wrong? Non-Christians deserve to be murdered and raped? Christians are safe from murder and rape? If anyone has a clue what exactly his “snuff parable” means, please let me know.

What I do know is that this is not the person Christians should be holding up as an example. We spend so much time talking about doing what Jesus would do. Jesus loved. Jesus healed. Jesus taught us to love our enemies. To do unto others as we would have them do unto us. He ate with sinners. He spread his message without spreading hate. It seems these days that many Christians would prefer to laud the loud and the hateful and/or the modern day Pharisees who care more about rules than people. We won’t reach the world by telling the world stories about murder and rape. We won’t reach the world by telling them what they have to change before we will love them. We will reach the world through love.

Want to do what Jesus did? Love.