ARE WE WHO WE SAY WE ARE?

I look at your Facebook page and I see your tweets.  I see all the grand adventures you’ve gone on.  I see the things you’re presenting all around the county.  I love it all.  But it makes me wonder.  Are we who we say we are?

Social media is a beautiful thing, but many times I feel like we often fall into a trap of showing the good parts of life instead of embracing all parts of life.  This has gone on even before social media happened.  How many times have you run into someone at the store and even if you’re having a bad day you’ll share only good things with them and smile through the sadness in your eyes.  I’ve been asking myself for years if this is what we should really be doing.

Smiling through the rough times can be useful, but at the same time misleading, especially for a boy like me.  You get on this kick that everything is always functioning so very well around you and that problems are only happening to you.  You start to think that maybe you’re doing something wrong all the time.  I have to admit that I’m calling out myself on this too.  If you judged me by my twitter feed, you might see me as a curious librarian who is always doing things for my teens.  The truth is that I have really bad days sometimes.  There are moments where I feel like less of a teen librarian and more like a policeman.  For example: we have 12 computers in my teen area and the teens with library cards each get a maximum of one hour per day of computer time.  This rule is in place so that we don’t have long queues for our computers.  Naturally, one hour per day isn’t going to do it for most teens.  This has led to some sort of “black market” for library cards in our area.  Teens will trade items and favors for library card numbers in hopes of getting more than one hour per day.  As the person in charge of the area, one of my tasks can be breaking up these library card number rings.  I have to question teens about how and why they are doing this.  I have to ask them to leave the library for a day or two sometimes when they’re blatantly breaking the rules.  That, in my humble opinion, is not just good librarianship.  In a way, it’s driving some teens away from the library.  That’s not what I am here to do.  And do I ever talk about this situation?  No.  It was my dirty little secret until now.

In order to be the best Justin I can be (which is what I consider to be a main priority for me during my time here on Earth), I’ve gotta stop doing this.  I have to start saying and showing who I am more.  The good, the bad, and the ugly, and I urge all of you to do the same.

I’m very curious to see if the brutal honest truth is the way forward.  As I said above in my tweet, I want wonderful, authentic experiences with other humans.  Will showing the bad along with the good drive people away?  We’ll see.

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5 thoughts on “ARE WE WHO WE SAY WE ARE?

  1. My theory is there is a direct-inverse proportional relationship with how much someone complains to how bad it really is. This also holds as my theory about when it’s “all smiles.”

  2. Loved this post, Justin. I really do think I try to show all sides though. Especially on 365 Sketches, I try to show all of the parts of my life, even the ones most people would not get or recognize, and they are things I would probably never say in person to anyone. Anyway, thanks for the charge.

  3. Good morning Justin,

    Your situation is not unique. In the case of your teen challenges, we face the same scenario on (almost) a daily basis. It is not just teens either. Adults will go to great lengths to mask their identity, usually because they have an enormous fine that would automatically block their access. Sometimes it is youths who want to circumvent blocks on certain sites by using an adult card. Acting as “behavior monitors” is certainly frustrating, and not what motivated us to become librarians.

    That said, it would be naive to think that such situations are not going to arise. Worse cases as well, which there is no point recounting here. Then there are the breakthroughs, the successes, the achievements that need to be savored. Add to that the fact that you are creating an environment where other YA’s, adults and seniors will feel safe and comfortable because you are willing to enforce basic rules and create a positive environment. Frankly, most of the people I confront and ban need to be elsewhere. They make it hard for others to feel positive about the library, they reinforce certain stereotypes about behavior, and they are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. Don’t beat yourself up.

  4. I have spent ages working out the wording for this, and I don’t think I have it right yet, but I am not sure it is going to get any better.

    I think you are raising some really good points, one set around library policy (maybe your library needs to rethink internet use policy, why is the policy designed the way it is?) and the other about online interactions.

    What you are asking is actually much more complex than it sounds. We can’t even see when we are blinking because of tricky things our minds do (see recent information from – actually is is well worth reading this series of articles called the Grand delusion) so there are lots of times when we will think we are telling the truth but it is our very very biased version of it.

    I think it also depends on the social media channel used. For example my Flickr account has lots of photographs of libraries I have taken in my own time but not my almost endless rock, water, tree photographs that I also take. I have put some up, but not the thousands I have filling my computer – I don’t necessarily want to share all of these photographs, but perhaps I could share a few more than I am. I will think about that as I will be taking lots of photographs of rocks soon.

    It is also about personality and how much we know people. This is true for online and off. A few people do the up/down experience online and it is about their personalities and that is great, but we are all very different.

    I actually enjoy the diversity of how people present themselves on line – it says so much about them. Some let nothing personal through unless it will reflect really really well on their controlled image and others *cough* are happy to show a scary series of tea cosy images or *cough* tweet/blog about their reading.

    I also think it is about being kind to others. There is no point me having an online rant naming names of individuals in a negative way. This is not going to move most things forward in a constructive way and depending on how I did it I could do major breaches of the code of conduct at work leading to disciplinary action being taken against me. It is better if I can describe behaviours which are not constructive and suggest ways they be improved – this can be a very proactive and constructive strategy. We have to make sure we are not seeking to destroy other people with our honesty.

    I would really like to talk with you about this some time as you have raised some really key issues – and highlight that we need to admit what kinds of masks we are wearing rather than pretending they don’t exist.

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