30 December 2013

Thoughts on bullying...

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This is probably not going to be the prettiest and best worded blog post I've ever written, but...I have words, I have thoughts and I'm putting them out there.

Earlier today I tweeted:
Now this is something that I've been pondering on for quite some time (and I'll talk about why), but I finally said something.

I was prompted to say something today, because many librarian friends on twitter were upset about a recent discussion on ALA's Statement of Appropriate Conduct at Conferences.  And my friends were rightly upset.  I don't want to link to the original blog post because frankly it doesn't need traffic, but it boils down to people saying "well I've never been harassed/bullied/sexually assaulted/etc at conferences and my friends haven't said anything to me about it therefore it doesn't exist! and all of these people that say it does, well I think they're just misunderstanding what was said" which frankly is some of the most disgusting bullshit I've ever encountered in my life.  You've never had this stuff happen to you?  Excellent! You're in a minority to be honest.  You don't want others to have a policy that says what is appropriate conduct at a conference?  Go take a long walk off a short pier.  Just because you haven't been harassed doesn't mean others haven't.  As to why others haven't talked to you about it, when you say crap like a policy doesn't need to exist, why would anyone want to confide in you?  You can see some excellent conversations about why these codes exists for ALA here from Librarian Kate and Matthew Ciszik, both of whom you should follow.  You can also find a wider range discussion on Lisa Rabey's site (including conversations on why ALA needed a code) and Andromeda Yelton's site.

ALA is not the only organization to recently define or redefine appropriate conduct at conferences.  It's had to happen for some of the larger comic conventions, NYC for example, in the publishing community, god knows how many times its happened in the comic industry, and way to many times to mention for people in everyday life.  Is it sad that we live in the 21st century and we're still having to tell people how to be behave?  Hell yes!  But if having a code or a policy is what has to be done to get people to start talking about it, to get it stop, to get things to change then by all means lets do it.  This is not, as some people have said, a chance to be the thought police, or to have moles or spies, or be the fracking NSA.  This is giving people something to stand on and what to do when it happens to them.  Because it does happen, whether you see it or not, it happens.  And for those of you that think a policy is a bad thing, then I hope you'll never experience harassment, bullying, being sexually assaulted, or something else that makes you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.

Now I said I'd talk about why I've been pondering bullying and here's why:  I'm involved in a situation where I feel bullied.  I walk away from these interactions feeling worthless and helpless and that no one anywhere likes me.  Now is some of this the depression talking?  Yes.  But it is also the people involved?  Yes it is.  Have I confronted these people yet?  No...but I'm working on it.  I'm not sure they would ever conceive of what they're doing as bullying, but the way they phrase things, the way look at me, the tone they talk to me with...for me it's bullying.  Sexual harassment, assault, those are often easy to define, but bullying?  Bullying takes many different shapes and sizes.  It's can be outright and overt, or it can be subtle and silent.  It can be physical, it can be words, it can be purely mental.  It doesn't matter...it's bullying.  Can it be taken to extremes?  Sure, but so can anything.  But if people feel uncomfortable when you do something, isn't that perhaps a sign you should stop?

My one last comment (and this could be it's own separate post):  if someone is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable (and isn't outright harassment) say something to them.  Let them know that they're saying things that make others uncomfortable.  Give them a chance to apologize.  Honestly, they may not realize that its something that makes people feel uncomfortable.  You'll be able to tell pretty quickly if they honestly weren't trying to make people uncomfortable and they'll be grateful that someone let them know.  And I say this from experience, because I don't always know that I'm saying something that makes someone feel uncomfortable due to how my brain works.

29 December 2013

This past year

Bad librarian here. I have no idea where I got this from (I
think it was from a book) but it was to good not to use.
It's that time of year again where everyone looks back on the past year and talks about what is to come in the upcoming year.  I of course have decided to follow that pattern, not simply to follow the herd, but because of other reasons.

This past year was not a normal year for me.  2013 was one of the most difficult years I've had in oh so many ways. The biggest struggle of course was dealing with depression and anxiety and more recently another diagnosis that was like lightbulb going off in my head.  I'm not ready to discuss that diagnosis yet (everything is fine, so no worries.)  The depression and anxiety seemed to get the better of me a lot this year, causing me to doubt myself, causing me to doubt who I am and what I'm capable of, impacting work, and more importantly impacting friendships that I have both in real life and online.  If I were to have been writing this a few weeks ago I probably would have talked more about what I left undone, but you know what?  Fuck it.  I'm tired of talking about that.  Instead here's what did go right (in no particular order at all, just whenever I thought of it):

  • I was able to attend TCAF and Heroescon with my dad, which was awesome.  We both got to geek out over graphic novels and comics and I just love being able to share that with him.  Plus I got to meet so many great people, both fans, and writers and artists that loved meeting and talking with people.  
  • Other events this year I got to go to: SPX, Decatur Book Festival, and a Bill Bryson book signing.  All of which were fun, fantastic, and so many great people and authors and artists.
  • Beginning in January I'll be writing for No Flying, No Tights, one of the best librarian/graphic novel blogs around and I'm so excited to be writing for them.
  • I wrote a guest post for "Letters to a young librarian" on being an ILL Librarian that was picked up by ALA Direct!  First time (I think) for that's ever happened.
  • I presented at my state library conference, COMO, on graphic novels and formed a partnership with two other great folks, which will lead to some great future endeavors.
  • I've got a presentation accepted for Computers in Libraries 2014.
  • Publishers continue to send me review copies of books, which is completely awesome because how can I not like free books to read?
  • I started a graphic novel group at MPOW and while it wasn't well attended it was fun to plan and professors kept introducing me to students as "this is the guy you need to thank for starting the graphic novel collection.  Tell him what else to order"
  • I completed LibraryJuice's Certificate of User Experience course.  Which was awesome and I just realized I need to write a blog post about it.
  • I was accepted into the Certificate of Advanced Data Studies at Syracuse's iSchool to begin in January.  I'm really looking forward to getting my brain hammered in new directions.
  • I submitted my first ever article to a library publication.  Still waiting to hear if it will be accepted, but keeping my fingers crossed.
  • I served as the outside reviewer for two faculty hirings in one of my liaison areas, which was interesting to see how things worked in other areas.
  • Finally did a sleep study and was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea.  
  • Served on Jury Duty for the first time ever.
  • Went horseback riding a couple of time.
  • Attended a Julia Nunes living room show, which was awesome!
  • Attended the wedding of one of my best friends from college and being able to see her walk down the aisle.
  • Attended the wedding party of two online friends and got to meet them in person for the first time, as well as a few other folks from online.
More importantly though, I found just how many people were willing to stand by me throughout the year, both in real life and online.  Friends that encouraged me when I was down, that kicked my brain when it was needed, and told me the truth when I needed it even more.  I'm not even going to attempt to list them, mostly because I'd fail at it and would invariably forget someone and tick someone off...

But to those of you on FriendFeed, on Twitter, on Facebook, or heaven help us all, in real life thank you for the comfort, the joy, the agony, the tears, the encouragement, and everything else that you've given to me this past year.  I would not be where I am now without you.  For those that have stood by me more than others if I haven't already gotten on my knees and thanked you, please know that I'm doing so now.  You are awesome and I'm glad to have you in my life.

For the upcoming year my plans are:
  • Work on the advanced Data certificate program 
  • Present at CIL
  • Submit some presentations to ACRL
  • Work on a book proposal
  • Keep learning
  • Do awesome
And for my own sanity sake say "fuck it" more often and follow my heart and gut, even if it means going against the advice of friends.  I am going to follow my own path more often, even if it isn't the way most people would go.  And I'm going to do what makes me happy, even if if that's sitting in my apartment, with my cats sitting on me, and reading a good book.

So farewell 2013, I look forward to the challenges you bring 2014.