Thursday, July 18, 2019

Absolutely Awful

Yeah, I know that President Trump tweeted some really dumb things about four first-term Congresswomen. And I know that in response they said some dumb things as well. I know that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said some dumb things on the floor of the House of Representatives. And plenty of other representatives said dumb things when discussing and voting on whether or not stupid tweeting was an impeachable offense (Hint: If it's not bad enough to get taken down by Twitter, it probably doesn't clear the Constitution's "high crimes and misdemeanors" language).

And I know that people at a campaign rally for the President said some stupid things as a group. And some other people said dumb things in response to that. I saw one person actually say that when folks chanted "Send her back!" it called to mind the shouts of the crowds to Pilate's offer to free Jesus in the gospel of John: "Crucify him!" As if politicians needed any help in feeding their God complexes.

But the worst thing I read all week was none of those. It was this, in Ars Technica. Three times as many American children in a survey would rather be a YouTube content provider than an astronaut. In fact, video blogger was the number one profession chosen by the 3,000 kids in a survey commissioned by LEGO.

Barely 10 percent of the kids surveyed wanted to be astronauts -- and yes, given the regular reports of other surveys that suggest not many more than that can find England on a map, maybe redirecting them from wanting to pilot multi-ton spacecraft over populated areas is a good idea. A third of them want to be video bloggers -- and here's the thing about that. It's not a job.

Sure, video production is a job and a specialized skill. Writing interesting content to be recorded and broadcast is a specialized skill as well. But production and content creation are the jobs -- not video blogging, and three minutes of skimming YouTube will offer dozens of examples of video blogs that have neither. I would be very surprised if a significant portion of the aspiring video bloggers had any idea of what kind of skills were needed to become successful in that field, or had spent any time developing them.

There are about 75 million people under 18 in the United States. If the Harris Poll commissioned by LEGO is accurate, twenty-five million of them want to be video bloggers. I'm not worried that all of those kids will actually become video bloggers -- "what I wanna be when I grow up" is a malleable concept. I'm just stunned into a melancholic stupor that a third of America's kids want to sit in front of their laptop cameras and say "um" for five minutes, and part of me now wishes I still drank.

(PS -- I know that the poll suggests that more than half of Chinese schoolchildren want to be astronauts -- or "taikonauts," as China calls its space travelers. Trusting numbers from China is like trusting Bill Clinton with the intern phone directory. On the other hand, given the number of people who would like to get out from under that nation's increasingly repressive regime, maybe those kids are counting on steering the rocket in a different direction come splashdown time.)

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