2016, Rest in Pieces

So it’s pretty safe to say that 2016 was not a great year for most people, at least in terms of celebrity deaths and political/world events. I’m not particularly hopeful about the likelihood of 2017 bringing us anything except more of the same, given that Trump will officially be our president for realsies and celebrities are only getting older and we’re only creating more and more of them as our standards for fame sink lower and social media creates a false sense of closeness and a constant buzz about anyone who’s ever been considered “someone” for more than 15 seconds, let alone 15 minutes, and all of time is a man-made construct, but who knows. I’ve been wrong before. I’d be very happy to be wrong now.

Anyway, I figured rather than continuing to wallow in the muck and mire that this year brought in, I’d review it all through my various social media posts and see what stood out as actually good (or bad, but with silver linings).

Personal Revelations from 2016

  • I think this is the first year that I really, truly saw the ugliness that’s around me and which pervades my life more than I realized. Call it “woke,” call it “aware,” call it whatever you like, but holy shit there’s a lot wrong, from wage discrepancies based on gender and ethnicity (even in my field, which I was somehow blissfully ignorant to prior to a few months ago) to everyday bigotry to woefully inept information literacy rates as the result of abhorrently impractical digital literacy methods, apart from policy brutality and health care issues and student debt and the displacement of senior citizens and the abuse and neglect of animals and the deforestation of basically everywhere. There’s a lot to be done, but there’s also a lot of people interested in doing at least some of it, so that gives me a tiny glimmer of hope.
  • In a related field, I realized that deleting friends off Facebook just creates more of an echo chamber for you and while it’s undoubtedly more pleasant to not have to deal with whatever spiteful insanity someone is spouting off, it’s also potentially hazardous
  • Bernie is still bae, and will be forever
  • I enjoy library policy creation and interior design more than I realized
  • Health wise – I can’t drink alcohol or eat any nuts anymore, and migraines are a thing for me
  • I like my body even when it’s Pie Season and I haven’t exercised in months, but I also feel much better when it’s not Pie Season and I have been exercising somewhat regularly

Personal Highlights of 2016

  • Went to the Newport Folk Festival – St. Paul and the Broken Bones stole the show as far as I’m concerned, but seeing Flight of the Conchords perform live was amazing, too (and bonus points for me because attending this was on my list of Resolutions for 2016!)
  • Finally visited Disney World, thanks to my handsome husband! (This was also on the aforementioned list, as was attending a paint night, which I also did! Huzzah!)

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  • Spent a week in Hawaii with my love
  • Mostly conquered my fear of babies, but they’re still not my favorite
  • Dyed my hair purple and discovering Overtone Conditioner
  • Figured out how to actually wing my eyeliner
  • My previously indefinable “look” is called Toddler Grandma Style
  • I discovered the glory of adult-sized onesies and now own 3 of them
  • Ran my most successful Haunted House at my library
  • Participated in the Handmade Valentine Exchange Project

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  • Was featured in Librarian Wardrobe a few times
  • Saw  Bo Burnham perform Make Happy live
  • I re-read and reviewed my old Livejournal posts and came to somewhat better terms with my teenage self
  • Chelsea and I had a featured article published in PLA Magazine and I moderated an author’s panel for SLJ
  • The revival of Lisa Frank everything, everywhere, even the Dollar Tree!

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Favorite Shows Binged in 2016, in no particular order

  • Better Off Ted
  • America’s Next Top Model
  • The Office (UK)
  • Seinfeld
  • The Bachelor, the Bachelorette, Bachelor In Paradise, and Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?
  • Unreal (but really only the first season and a half – I hope they pull it together for 3)
  • Broad City
  • Nashville
  • Scream Queens
  • Drunk History
  • My So Called Life (if you want to watch or re-watch it, here’s a drinking game to go along with it, similar to the Dawson’s Creek Rewatch Project I’m also currently doing)
  • Stranger Things

Favorite Books Read in 2016, in no particular order but all linked to their Goodreads pages for your convenience

Personal Resolutions for 2017

  • Pay off my car and tackle my student debt
  • Replenish my savings account
  • Find a side hustle to stick with
  • Track my migraines
  • Be better about taking vitamins and supplements and using mouth wash because I guess I’m an adult now
  • Be social…? But probably not. I think Liz Lemon’s “saying yes to staying in more” mantra may have taken hold in me for good.

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  • Continue weeding out beauty and personal care items that are not cruelty free and finding suitable alternatives
  • Expand my Spanish for Librarians cheat sheet to include more words and phrases
  • Back up my photos and print some for framing and scrap-booking purposes
  • Keep up with my blog/photo blog projects
  • Learn to play the ukulele
  • Learn to knit
  • Bike? The question mark is because this has been one of my resolutions for literal years, so I’ll be surprised if 2017 is the year it finally happens. But it should still be on here.
  • Get into a few Podcasts
  • Try this 52 Week Gratitude Challenge in my private, paper journal because otherwise I think whoever finds it posthumously will think I’m a suicidal piece of human garbage who spends all her time whining and stressing and crying when in reality, that’s only true like half the time.

So that’s it. That was my year. Not as good as Leo’s, what with him finally winning his Oscar and also presumably still being able to consume alcohol, but strictly speaking, it wasn’t a bad year for me. We’ll see what happens next.

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Cheers!

Digital Immigrants

Let’s just pretend it hasn’t been another long stretch of time since I last updated and plow right along into a little rant that’s been growing at the back of my mind since I first started settling into my new job at Mount Pleasant Library.

What I was taught in graduate school and almost every cranky adult I meet: “Kids these days! They are digital natives! They are more adept at manipulating online media and computer programs than you are. You will struggle to keep up! Every time you blink, some new tech craze begins, and these kids are already on it – or maybe even over it.”

How it actually is, especially in lower-income areas but elsewhere as well: How do I copy/paste? How do I print? How do I save and/or send myself a file? What’s an email address? Why do I need one? The audio is on mute, why can’t I hear anything? I plugged my headphones into the wrong jack, why can’t I hear anything? Why does this game not load on Internet Explorer? Why did the computer freeze after I slammed my  hands on the keyboard? What do you mean, right click? What do you mean, double click? Why/how do I sign out of Facebook? My password is…

Granted, some of these are simple problems with easy fixes and I can get past those because everyone is entitled to the occasional brain fart, or maybe because they’re six years old and this is the first time they’re using a computer on their own and everyone has to learn the basics at some point. Okay, sure. However, the majority of these questions come repeatedly from the same older kids, which raises several red flags. Three red flags, actually – one for subpar teaching methods, one for poor economic standing, and one for an abysmal lack of varied thinking strategies being taught/encouraged/modeled. To me, these issues mean they’re not retaining the information I’ve imparted to them (which may be at least half my fault, of course), not practicing on their own time (due to a lack of access to the proper tools), and who are exhibiting a clear lack of problem-solving and exploratory skills. Oh, and also a total disregard for privacy issues.

I believe the biggest component of the low digital literacy skills that I’ve encountered since coming to MTP can be attributed to the socioeconomic status and the fact that these kids most likely don’t have computers at home, or advanced smart phones/tablets/other devices, which is an enormous disadvantage, of course. This, on top of all the other negative consequences of poor economic standing – overcrowded classrooms, lack of individualized attention, out of date text books and other materials, improper nutrition, etc.

However, similar instances have occurred several times at North Scituate Public Library, which is a service area that is considerably better off financially and otherwise than MTP, which to me means that these issues also relate on a much broader scale to how kids are being taught to think. More directly, I suspect that this is yet another side effect of standardized testing and the subsequent method of teaching-to-the-test – in the interest of keeping scores up and funding flowing (or, rather, trickling) in, students are not being taught to consider why something is as it is and employ reason or thoughtful experimentation, but just to accept facts at face value and ask for help at the first sign of a problem. That’s my hypothesis, anyway – clearly, plenty of actual research is required, so I am in no way pinning blame on anyone or anything…yet.

That said, I’m glad that they ask – I really, really am. And I’m happy to help, of course. But now I’m on a quest to discover what the best ways to teach basic digital literacy skills to kids, since they already assume they know everything anyway because they’re at that age to begin with (joy!), and because they are probably also being fed the same generic rhetoric about being the legendary “digital natives” that I was taught to expect (along with the Second Coming), when in fact, they’re what I would consider digital immigrants. </run on sentence>

To Pinterest, to Pinterest! To DIY a new approach to digital literacy! I don’t anticipate that conducting a full-on class would be particularly useful, well attended or well received, nor would leaving out flyers or signs with quick tips because they are easily overlooked to start with and the whole issue is that the kids don’t want to fix anything themselves anyway – or perhaps they do, and they’re just don’t know that they can. Maybe there’s some way to disguise the heart of the issue (free thinking, problem solving). I’m not sure.

The point is, this has become my latest big-picture pet project. You heard it here first.