March 22, 2018

Feedback: Letters to LJ, January 2017 Issue

“Of the nearly 1.2 million violent crimes committed in 2015, hate crimes against people…made up 0.375 percent”

Close to zero

The FBI reports 372.6 violent crimes in the United States per 100,000 people in 2015 (Rebecca T. Miller, “The Better Angels”). That is an increase of three percent since 2014. There are not any numbers compiled for 2016 and the meat of the presidential race. So I would argue that these numbers do not clearly illustrate your claim…but that’s another story.

Of the nearly 1.2 million violent crimes committed in 2015, hate crimes against people (assuming they were all ­violent…) made up 0.375 percent of all violent crimes. Hate crimes against property, in 2015, [accounted for] 0.003 percent of all property-related crimes.

I don’t say this to belittle bigotry and hate but to bring to light that we do live in an amazingly inclusive society. If the goal is zero percent, we are really close. An absolute zero total is not a realistic goal, and we should continue to decry the individual acts without succumbing to the (false) narrative that things are bad and getting worse.

—Anonymous Coward

Old & young illiterate

I am a Millennial and a librarian who sees a lot of these “Generation Z” kids (­Steven Bell, “Time To Change Everything Again…for Generation Z”). I have noticed that there’s a big difference between their technology under­standing and ours (Millennials). We grew up learning how computers work; today’s kids are often shockingly computer illiterate and only use their phones.

Our knowledge started with DOS and spanned everything that came after it. We made cute little websites in school using tedious HTML. We grew up as kids with other “computer gut” lingo like URL, cursor, file, icon, drive, etc. These are all things that Generation Z doesn’t know about…. [T]hey don’t understand the background systems that operate the technology they use. When I help a teen on the computer, it is bizarrely [like] helping an elderly person with the same thing.

Increasingly, the standard way to do everything that you need to do as an adult (higher education assignments, apply for jobs, file taxes, renew licenses, etc.) is set up by Millennials who understand how computers work. That is simultaneously leaving behind both older people and younger people.

—Name withheld

More alike with age

So what’s next, Generation Double A (Steven Bell, “Time To Change Everything Again…for Generation Z”)? For some time now every new generation has brought out the pundits who talk up that generation’s outstanding qualities, or in the case of my generation, X, their lesser qualities (slackers).

In most instances, when members of every generation reach a certain age and milestone in adulthood, things change, and they all tend to have similar qualities. Family becomes important, stability becomes important, etc. Sure, there are always rebels, radicals, and outliers, but by and large maturity and aging tend to even things out among most people as far as what is important in life. Look at the baby boomers, all those 1960s radicals who ended up working for the very “Man” they despised in their youth.

[Winston] Churchill once remarked something like, “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.” I think the point of this quote, that at certain stages of life we all have certain outlooks or feelings, has a lot of truth. Sure, when Generation Z is young it is all about technology, creativity, risk taking, etc. Let them get into their forties and have a couple of children and that will change.

When I was in college, all the talk was about what will ever become of Generation X. Well, most of us didn’t end up ruling the world, but we didn’t end up ruining it either. The same with Generation Y and it will be the same with Z. Of course, each generation has its broad eccentricities and its own uniqueness, but we’re all still human, with many similarities from generation to generation.

—Name withheld

Disrespectful lumping

I wonder if lumping huge groups of human beings in this way (by age) makes sense any more (Steven Bell, “Time To Change Everything Again…for Generation Z”). Maybe you need to define them further by economics, education, geography, etc. If you are talking about the subset of who will go to college, maybe it’s possible, but even then does it do them a disservice? It feels like I am being a little disrespectful of individuals, their experiences, and their environment. I’m not sure it’s productive.

—Name withheld


The publisher of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad (starred review, LJ 7/16, p. 82) is Doubleday. LJ apologizes for the error.

This article was published in Library Journal's January 1, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.