Someone left this comment on my post about old and young librarians:
Today I rang a potential employer and asked what their selection criteria of “Advanced computer skills” meant in a more detailed sense. Their answer was “Well, basically we are looking for a digital native.”
Oh well. Thanks for making me phone you to hear the ageism.
Wow, that’s a doozy. If true, that remark was obviously by someone who has no idea how to properly discriminate against people.
“Digital native,” if that phrase even means anything, is obviously age-based, so you shouldn’t just come out and say you want a digital native. What should you say instead?
There are a lot of possible words to use when you really want young people. A typical one is “enthusiastic.” You want someone who’s going to be enthusiastic about whatever frustrating, low-paying job you have to offer.
That’s probably not going to be any digital natives, by the way, because according to the best evidence that I read about in USA Today, they’re a remarkably entitled lot.
Or perhaps you want to discriminate against someone because of education or class. For example, they mispronounced the word epitome or used the lobster fork incorrectly at the interview lunch.
You can’t just come out and say, “You’re a lower-class person with poor breeding!” That’s usually what I hear librarians yelling to each other at conferences, and it’s probably the reason for the new ALA conference code of conduct.
No, instead you have to be more subtle. “You’re not a good fit for the organization” is always good. It’s vague and probably true. No one will be happy as others glare at them for slurping their tea or saying expresso instead of espresso.
That one works pretty well for a lot of things. Don’t like a candidate’s race or religion? They’re not a good fit for the organization!
One could also say something like, “we want someone we think will interact well with the community.” If you’re African American and from an urban area, for example, and the “community” is mostly white suburbanites, the library is saying they want someone white. You see? Subtle, but effective.
That might also work for some class-based discrimination as well. If the community is upper middle class and you sound like an illiterate stevedore, the library could use that one on you. If you have a really thick Boston or southern accent, for example, it might also be a way to discriminate against you politely.
Being a good fit for the organization or interacting well with the community are both excellent ways to discriminate against just about anyone you don’t like. Transgender? Devout Muslim? Well, you see, sir or madam, we really need someone who’s a good fit for the organization and the community and our community isn’t made up of transgendered Muslims.
So, in future, please try to be more subtle in your blatant discrimination. We’re librarians, after all, and have certain standards to uphold.