Pokemon, Smart Phones, and the Rime of the Ancient Librarian
I think I mentioned before that I was one of the last hold outs on the whole “smart phone” thing. I have a cell phone, but it just makes calls and texts. The fact that I can text puts me above, say, my parents, but that’s about it. Otherwise I am left in the dust. Get out of the way, you stupid cars, my buggy has just as much right to be here as you do.
It’s strange to think that it wasn’t all that long ago (for someone who is like farthead 40) that we didn’t even have the things. Can you remember what that was like? I can. It was such a total pain. Like you had to go inside a building, or to a phone booth, and call someone if you needed something. I’m pretty sure even homeless people have smart phones at this point, and they are only on the street corner to catch a Pokemon*. But not me. I didn’t even get my “dumb phone” until I was pregnant with crazy baby (Thing Two) . I was at a point where it would not have been at all odd for me to suddenly burst into flames and have the doctors call it “just another wacky pregnancy thing”. So I wanted a phone in case of baby emergency, and we weren’t even close to labor yet.
I think most people started that way. I need a phone for emergencies. Also to talk to my mom. And keep tabs on my boyfriend. And crush candy and pretend farm and catch imaginary monsters. It’s IMPORTANT. Heck with you, Superman, who now has to run inside a J.C. Penny’s to change thanks to us getting rid of the phone booths; we need our phones. Why? Because everyone else needs them, and the world goes along with everyone else. It’s like everyone else is on cocaine, and I better get drugs fast, or I am never gonna fit into this world at all.
Are they even called smart phones anymore? This is how out of touch I am.
Wait. This is exactly what happened in Wonderland – you gotta be stoned to fit in. Well, I guess we crossed that bridge with the presidential election a long time ago, so whatever. My kids are some of the last kids not to have smart phones. What is a good age to get a kid one of these phones? I’ve seen toddlers with them, because you never know when little Jaxxon will need to make an urgent phone call. “Juuuuice!” is something I so often hear them scream into their phones. Or text with their pudgy fingers. But seriously, no, it’s the educational games on the phones they like. Because “Peek-a-Boo” takes up way too much time, and uses your hands, and now our wrists hurt from carpal tunnel. But please give it back because Mommy has stuff to do. Her crops are wilting, her boss has more Pokemon power-ups than she does, and Daddy is not going to stalk himself.
I don’t know what a Pokemon power-up is and I don’t want to know.
What’s this about stalking? Oh, that’s a fun thing I learned from a 20-something co-worker a while back. “See,” she said happily. “I can tell where everyone I know is right now. Here is my boyfriend at work. Here’s mom at the grocery store. Here’s all 72 of my best friends at the mall.” I found this a little disconcerting. “What if you don’t want someone to know where you are 24/7?” I asked. She looked at me with a face that clearly did not comprehend the question. Of COURSE you would want to know where everyone was all the time. I told my husband about this feature. He said if we ever get smart phones, he is tossing his in a truck going cross country. I don’t blame him.
Yet I can only hold out so much longer because the world changes to fit our technology. My kids are actually expected to have it and bring it to school for “Share your technology day” where they use their own expensive electronic devices instead of the school supplying them, and if these devices should be lost or stolen, the school is in no way responsible please sign here.
It’s not just phones, though, it’s technology period that is going haywire (pun intended). Phones are just mini computers now, even smaller than the NUC on my desk. That’s NUC not Nuke, though it certainly sounds like I have a rather dangerous bomb on my desk, but believe me it’s not even half as useful. See at work they took away our computer towers and gave us these tiny boxes that have like one whole usb port in them for you to plug your stuff in, which certainly beats the towers which had a CD drive, several usb ports, and acted as a nice shelf for my office mate and me. We were not impressed with these new boxes. Yeah, they were smaller, but with one port you had to get another thingy to plug into it that is a square thing with 4 ports on in, so you can actually plug more than one thing in it at a time. If you want me to explain what a usb port is, you are worse off than I am, but not by much. All I know is it’s like an outlet. I’m not even totally versed on how electricity works, except that you plug something in and ‘bing’ a light comes on. It could be fairies coming through the wires for all I know (or care).
I don’t adjust well to new things, especially technology. I refused to learn that wild mp3 thing until my husband bought one for me and showed me how and then I really liked this little thing I could store my music on. Except now mp3 players, like the Sony Walkman cassettes and CDs, are so old that my snobby computer refuses to recognize the software. Seriously, it just totally ignores it, like, you are so not worth my time. Why? Because you can get that on your phone. Along with a camera, a GPS, a best friend (hi Siri), and God only knows what else. Why do my devices have to multitask? I don’t expect my dryer to also take selfies and cook me a mean pot roast. It dries clothes. That’s it. But the computer at your fingertips does everything. You can pay bills on the phone. You can also check out books.
It should be known that I did not start using the library computer catalog until they removed the physical card catalog – the one with all the cards in it. And I was one of them “Youngins” then.
Yet you have to eventually give in just to keep up in this world. I don’t want to be the only one not getting mugged in alleys or falling off cliffs while chasing pretend monsters. So I guess I’ll have to get the smart phone. And update my computer. You know. Eventually.
When they take away my pay-by-the-month dumb phone, most likely.
*I so did not use Pokemon in the title just to get more hits. Okay, I did.
Libraries are for Porn?
|Come on, Anne, lighten up!|
- “Encourages children to break dishes so they won’t have to dry them.” ( A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstien)
- “It caused a wave of rapes.” ( Arabian Nights, or Thousand and One Nights, anonymous)
- “If there is a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it?” ( Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown)
- “Tarzan was ‘living in sin’ with Jane.” ( Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
- “It is a real ‘downer.’” ( Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank)
- “The basket carried by Little Red Riding Hood contained a bottle of wine, which condones the use of alcohol.” ( Little Red Riding Hood, by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm K. Grimm)
- “One bunny is white and the other is black and this ‘brainwashes’ readers into accepting miscegenation.” ( The Rabbit’s Wedding, by Garth Williams)
- “A female dog is called a bitch.” ( My Friend Flicka, by Mary O’Hara)
- “An unofficial version of the story of Noah’s Ark will confuse children.” ( Many Waters, by Madeleine C. L’Engle)
If you think no one would really suggest banning a book for such a stupid reason, you clearly have too much faith in the human race.
|Demon Worship 101 is HARD|
But back to the Internet. Many people are understandably concerned about what their children might find on an average Internet search. I mean, it should be safe to look up, say, bears (don’t). Or possibly kittens (again, don’t). Or maybe plushies (for the love of God, do not do this.) Since even these seemingly innocent words could lead to all sorts of nightmares for years to come, clearly someone needs to sanitize this Internet thing. But what can we do? Maybe some sort of a filter, that lets only the pure and wholesome stuff out, but keeps the bad stuff in – you know, like bloodletting in the Middle Ages.
|THAT’s the White House???|
As it turns out, filtering is just as effective as bleeding out the “bad” blood in medieval patients. Sure, kids are protected from seeing a woman’s bare breasts. They are also prevented from seeing information on breast cancer, breast feeding, the breast stroke, and chicken breasts. Yes, you can change up programs to specifically allow these terms, but after a while, this becomes a full time job. People on the Internet may be scummy, but they’re clever. A good way to get more traffic to their sites is to name it something totally innocuous, like say the White House (well, okay, maybe not totally innocuous). Be sure to look up whitehouse.gov, or else you are NOT going to see the Oval Office. At least not the one you’d like to see.
Not only are there problems with specifically keeping children from seeing the wrong thing (if you think using teddy bears as search query instead of just bears is gonna solve things, think again), these filters are usually set up on all library computers. That means that adults must also be filtered from looking at information that, as adults, they ought to be able to access. No, they shouldn’t be looking at porn in a public place, but there are plenty of things that are not obscene that they could be blocked from. Taking the filters off for certain people doesn’t solve anything, because if you are researching, you don’t know what’s out there. Therefore, you don’t know if you need the filter removed or not. And if you do ask for it to be removed, will people assume you’re a pervert? Many patrons would probably prefer not to take that chance.
Why would librarians use filters? Many are forced to, thanks to CIPA, the Child Internet Protection Act, designed by our government with the best of intentions (which if you remember paves the road to hell). If they want government funds to help pay for a computer lab, and many poorer libraries have no other way to fund one, then they have to agree to filter. So then even those who would not want to use them otherwise are faced with a difficult choice – deny their patrons or deny their patron’s first amendment rights? Not an easy choice.
|This child has been online a bit too long . . .|
What’s the answer? I think it’s rather obvious myself. Libraries do not act in loco parentis (in place of parents). Parents should monitor their children’s Internet use, in my opinion, just as they should monitor what their children read. They have every right to keep their children from certain books or websites, but they do NOT have the right to keep MY children or me from these same books and websites. We all want to protect our kids, but this should not come at the expense of the rights of others. It is, ultimately, our responsibility to parent our own kids in the best way we know how. If filtering your computer is your choice, that’s fine. But just remember – our kids have grown up with computers. So filtering, in many cases, is about as effective on kids as your average child proof container. I wish everyone good luck.
And hey – didn’t I WARN you not to look those words up?