The past few months here at Clue Wagon Worldwide Headquarters have been eventful, and one of the byproducts of that eventfulness is that I’ve had quite a backlog of emails, blog posts, and social media stuff to catch up on. I’ve been working on doing that in the past few days, and I have to say: Holy Crankypants Batman.
Is it me, or is there a lot of angst in the genealogy world lately? It seems like everyone’s mad about something, or offended by someone, or upset one way or another. I’m not sure if I’m seeing this because I’m reading a whole bunch of stuff at once, but it’s kind of a bummer. I don’t really get it.
I am especially flummoxed by angst over genealogical societies. Here is my philosophy on societies: I join the ones I think will give me something I want. If they do, I keep paying my dues. If they don’t, I don’t renew. That’s it. I can’t recall a time when I’ve gotten particularly upset one way or another. In fact, if they suck and I don’t renew my membership, that’s money back in my pocket. I win either way.
There are certainly circumstance in which I’ve been a member of an organization that I thought needed some improvement, but that I still felt were worth joining. In those cases, I sometimes volunteer to help improve things. Other times, I wait around and hope that other people improve things (the latter is, sadly, my default position lately, because there are only so many hours in the day). Either way, though, I don’t really get upset. Maybe I’m an apathetic Gen Xer, or maybe I’m lazy…but I just can’t get excited about this stuff.
That’s why I’m always a little freaked out by how passionately angry some folks can get over what their society does or doesn’t do. Even if we’re talking about a professional society…I mean, are people confusing a professional society with the profession itself? Because those two aren’t the same thing. If you’re sitting around waiting for your professional society to make your job more lucrative or more fabulous or respectable, you’re screwed. Go out and make your own job lucrative and fabulous and respectable by doing awesome work. Then you won’t have time to argue about the society…plus, you’ll be so successful that the rest of us will want to know exactly how you did it. This is called “political power.” Then you can cram your views down people’s throats all you want. Except you probably won’t, because you’ll be too busy raking in the dough. In your infinite fabulosity, you’ll also have figured out that if you piss people off, they stop listening to you. This is called “political savvy.”
I’m down with caring about your society and your profession. I’m down with working constructively to improve things. I’m especially down with working together to change laws and prevent dumb new rules from being passed in the first place.
But I’m not down with having all of this be such a large source of anger and frustration for so many people. Most of us come to genealogy from other fields or as a hobby…which, either way, means it should be at least a little bit fun. I left my old line of work in part because I was tired of dealing with nonstop conflict 12 hours a day. Why would I want that in my new one? Why would you?
DISCLAIMER: The title of this post comes from my oldest child, who is six years old. A couple of weekends ago, I walked downstairs to find her teaching my husband to more effectively play Angry Birds. She looked up at me and said, “Daddy is a crankypants, so I’m uncranking him by teaching him to play Angry Birds. It’s totally working!” I have no financial connection to the Angry Birds people. I actually think it’s a pretty dumb game. In fact, this same child tried teaching me to play it too, and I couldn’t get into it, because I feel like both the pigs and the birds are jerks, and I just want to go watch TV and let them fight it out while I watch people fight on Listservs instead. Anyway, although the Angry Birds people are not paying me a dime, I’ve gotten a few dimes from other people back in the days when I blogged more regularly. I’ll be talking more about that in an upcoming webinar, which I’ve very cleverly titled How to Make Money From Your Genealogy Blog. Check it out.
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