aamcnamara: (Default)
[personal profile] aamcnamara
(No, I still haven't written on the novel. That's my next task. People keep asking me good questions!)
(This is related to my previous post.)

[livejournal.com profile] mrissa asked me here about my strong identification as a teenager, and whether I thought it was personal or something generational.

I got a little off-topic--short answer: I think it's mostly personal--and it turned into an interesting introspective thing for me, so I'm posting it here and linking in a comment.

This is my answer.

I have always wanted to be taken as an equal by the people I look up to.

Part of that has been wanting to grow up, already, so that I can be an adult. But part of that is also knowing that I can't hurry time, and that people know I am young, and that I want to be a part of the community now. And I don't want to be a part of the community on false pretenses, even if I could get in that way, because that feels like lying, and to be a member of the community you have to tell the truth.

And it's all mixed up with the times when people have thought I'm stupid or lying because I'm a kid, and my righteous anger to show them that kids (and teens) are in fact smarter than you realize, sharper than you think, and will not let you off so easy this time. And with having chosen to go from homeschooling to school with my age-peers, rather than skipping grade after grade to find somewhere the academics were challenging, because I wanted to have friends.

In other words, I think it's probably a personal difference [between me and [livejournal.com profile] mrissa on this subject], but in any case, thanks for the opportunity to think about just why I have that strong belief. It'll be interesting to see what happens when I am not, in fact, a teenager any more. (If every generation does this, maybe I understand more about how older generations of fans act than I thought I did.)

[Related to [livejournal.com profile] shadesong's post: In general, though, I think that today's generation of fans can find more geeky friends--it's more okay to be geeky in a lot more places today, and there's also the Internet--which allows them to own their geek pride, but at the same time, there's no getting around the fact that they're teens; and sometimes the adult programming just doesn't give teens what they want. Often, perhaps.]

Date: 2009-07-16 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snurri.livejournal.com
I still think of myself as too young to be taken seriously, sometimes. And I know that the same thing made me insane when I was much, much younger.

I think perhaps it has to do with being above average intelligence-wise--wish I could put it in a less full-of-myself way, but I'm talking about you as well so maybe that gives me a pass. With being underestimated because the default assumption is that you are only as worthwhile as the next teen, and then being doubly annoyed because you can see that the next teen has something to offer too, if anyone would give them the time and space to articulate it.

And at this point I'm not sure this comment makes sense. Anyway, yeah. And I want you in my community, 'cause you're sharp.

Date: 2009-07-16 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
It makes sense to me. All I can say in response is, Yes.

Thank you.

Date: 2009-07-16 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
See, and I did skip a grade. Just the one--and then I got to college and made friends with people two college years ahead of me, so three calendar years ahead of me. I skipped a grade and had friends--and when people acted like I wouldn't, I treated them as dangerous lunatics. (Dangerous particularly because they might have influence over people who could control bits of my life.)

What I wanted when I was 20 was not for people to mistake me for 25 or 28 but for people to treat a 20-year-old as part of the indistinguishable mass labeled "people who can carry on interesting conversations." (See also: when I was 12; now that I'm almost-31.) And I think that a lot of the things that were particular about being 20 for me will not be the same as the ones that will be particular about being 20 for you, because they were less about being 20 and more about having been born in 1978.

It was important to me to make an audience largely composed of Baby Boomers wince in unison once when I was on a panel talking about science fiction and space travel by saying that human beings had not walked on the moon in my lifetime--because there I was, a fully adult person saying that. It was a perspective shift I felt they needed. They needed to know that someone in my position could remember Challenger but had no chance whatsoever of remembering a lunar landing because it was not physically possible for me to remember that. That set of markers, whatever they are, will vary substantially with time--dealing with one group of 20-year-olds will not teach you how to deal with the next one 2 or 4 or 10 or 15 years later, wherever the line of change goes. Obviously there are things like going to college, or having a settled job if you're going to, or having a child or children if you're going to, that are difficult and uncommon to do outside a particular age range. But I have friends in college and friends who have children in college, so those parts of age-markers have just not been a major deciding factor for my friendships. And also possibly some of this is that you were homeschooled for awhile and I never was: I never felt a shortage of people my own age. At all. I felt like I was being surrounded with people my own age, suffocated by people my own age, so the idea that I would need some time to just be around people my own age never computed for me.

(I hope it's clear that when I say "this is what I wanted" or "this is how I aligned my identity," I'm not saying "and you should do the same," I'm saying, "Huh, I think this is a difference I've spotted that might be interesting to discuss.")

I have also experienced programming chairs who suit me better and worse, and I have not noticed an age-correlation with that. Which is not to say that you're not noticing one--but I do think that there are people I know who are in their 60s who would like to hear some of the teen-related discussions you've mentioned over on [livejournal.com profile] shadesong's lj, and some who are in their teens or twenties who would Really Rather Not. I particularly fear that a teen track is not likely to be very well suited to you personally because you self-identify as book fandom not media fandom, and what I have seen of "what teens like/making more teen-friendly programming" has inclined very heavily towards the "MORE ANIME!" school of programming. And not because of lack of teen influence, either.

Date: 2009-07-16 05:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anisosynchronic.livejournal.com
People in general, regardless of age, tend to make assumptions that everyone else has the same experiential baseline that they have--and also tend to forget that the future, the past, and the present are not the same environment.

That is, while Baby Boomers could watch Moon landings, remembering that at the time there were no Internet, no LiveJournal, no Facebook, no personal computers, no compact disc, no home videotape or camcorders (there were film cameras with grainy black and white 8 mm and scratch sound and scratches and dropouts and it was expensive...), no cell phones, and people forget that those things weren't around on a regular basis, because they are so much a part of contemporary consumer culture.

Those sorts of things get very weird very fast... people forget thing, and then their "memory" attempts to do reconstructions based on what would have been resonable.

A generation from now, the world probably will look quite different from wht it looks like today....

Traditionally science fiction conventions have tried to be relatively age-insensitive in the non-discriminatory definition. E.g., there is no lower limit for age to vote in the Hugos, site Selection, and participate in the Worldcon Business meeting, if the person has a full membership and not a "kid-in-tow" or child membership. The outside world, however, has laws regarding minors, and those can be quite constaining.

(As regards special rates, that's a sort point with me--when I was in years of unemployment and underemployment and with a negative cashflow, nobody ever gave me any discount, while families regardless of income status, the elderly regardless on income status, and students regardless of income status, all got substantial discounts for all sorts of things... when I was a college student I had a lot more discretionary spending than I did when I was years out of work and watching the balances on credit cards and loans get larger and which... So, I regarded preferential rates subsidized by other who had to pay ore, as offensive and obnoxious, and still think is offensive and obnoxious. I'd rather not give discounts to any class, and instead have the prices be the same for everyeone, and not have Groups A, C, and D, subsidized by gouging Group B...

Date: 2009-07-16 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
"...but for people to treat a 20-year-old as part of the indistinguishable mass labeled "people who can carry on interesting conversations.""
This. (Or a sixteen-year-old, or whatever age.)

"I never felt a shortage of people my own age...the idea that I would need some time to just be around people my own age never computed for me."
This is likely the difference between us. I had a very small group of people-my-age who were available to me when I was homeschooled, didn't have anything in common with any of the girls and detested most of the boys. But since I have an enduring faith in people, I believed that there were some people my age, somewhere, who I would want to hang out with. (Turns out I was right, too.) Definitely I enjoy having friends of all ages, but I also love having friends who are my own physical age.

Your point about different markers for generations is a good one. [livejournal.com profile] aliseadae's college has something called the Mindset List which it compiles every year.

And your point about teen programming maybe not being for me is a good one, and one of my blind spots, I think. Still, I am not anti-anime, and I would rather have some teen programming than no teen programming, even if the panels turned out to mostly be about anime and Twilight, because I know that teens read and watch other things, too, and if we have teen programming then those other panels will happen eventually, too. (See: my enduring faith in people.)

Date: 2009-07-16 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
Well, and if teen-only programming is something you believe in as a concept, it may be something you have to encourage people to have when it's explicitly not for you, because you won't be even its theoretical audience all that much longer.

It will be interesting to me to see whether or when your age-related identity shifts from "teen" to "college student," and, if it does at all, whether you start feeling similarly about having programming aimed at college students as a group or whether that shift corresponds to at least partially leaving the teen identity group.

(Someone has already told you about the Dell Magazines writing contest for undergrads, right?)

Date: 2009-07-16 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
That will be interesting for me to see, too. *g*

(Yes, they have.)

Date: 2009-07-16 09:07 pm (UTC)
aliseadae: (windswept hair)
From: [personal profile] aliseadae
My identity is somewhere there muddled up between "teen" and "college student". In the world of SFF, I still feel young and new and like a teen. At college I am surrounded by my fellow students and I am not a teen. Nineteen is a weird age. I still want to find teenaged or college aged friends in the SFF community. While I had plenty of friends during elementary school, junior high, and high school, they were not at all interested in SFF. I have not found as many people my age with whom I can have discussions like the ones I have with [livejournal.com profile] aamcnamara. I found people in college but then I come back here (and I love these cities) and have lost the large group of people for a time.

Date: 2009-07-17 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
College summers can really suck. You go from being surrounded by people you like and more or less picked for yourself to having your friends not very accessible by the standards you've just spent the year getting used to. And even when you have a very good relationship with your parents, going from being in charge of yourself in your own place to having someone else in charge of you again can be very jarring.

Date: 2009-07-17 03:24 am (UTC)
aliseadae: (windswept hair)
From: [personal profile] aliseadae
Yeah. Especially since I have to drive for a half an hour to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] aamcnamara and very few of my friends from high school are available and when I hang out with them they no longer quite know the person that I am.

Date: 2009-07-17 03:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
Yah, either high school friends have been through their own changes and aren't quite the same themselves, or they haven't yet and the gap is sort of there between you.

Of the three summers that were between years of college, I spent the latter two doing summer research away from home. I don't know if that'll turn out to be possible in fields that interest you, but it was really good for me not just in terms of having a sense of career stuff but also socially. The summer research things were a lot more congruent with where I was then than hanging out with my high school friends would have been.

Not that [livejournal.com profile] greykev is not awesome; he is awesome. But I think part of why [livejournal.com profile] greykev and I have been each other's adopted siblings so well is that we weather changes in each other much better than some of our other friends from that time did (or would have if they'd had the chance).

Date: 2009-07-17 04:53 pm (UTC)
aliseadae: (windswept hair)
From: [personal profile] aliseadae
Mm. I have a friend from high school whose house I can stay at and who I can talk with until one in the morning but she's the exception and also off being an counselor at camp. The rest of my friends are fine and nice people but not /me/ people. Besides, everyone is sort of bad at organizing things to do.

Date: 2009-07-16 08:21 pm (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
I love the Mindset List (even when it makes me feel really old[1]) because it does a pretty good job of expressing the generational shift in experiences that are and aren't shared between different people.

[1] The class of 2012, described in the most recent list, were mostly born around the time I graduated from college. Oy.

Date: 2009-07-16 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
See, now you're making me feel young.

Date: 2009-07-16 09:08 pm (UTC)
aliseadae: (windswept hair)
From: [personal profile] aliseadae
That's /my/ class. But then I feel less young if I think about the fact that my uncle was in college around the time I was born and he does not seem old to me.

(er, hi. I don't think I know you. I saw you around at Fourth Street though.)

Date: 2009-07-17 03:28 am (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
Hi! Yeah, I don't think we actually met, but your LJ-name sounds familiar so I suspect I saw you around as well. (But see, I'm old! So I can claim bad memory, right? It's gotta be good for something....)

Date: 2009-07-17 04:58 am (UTC)
aliseadae: (windswept hair)
From: [personal profile] aliseadae
May I add you? I look like this.

Date: 2009-07-17 05:07 am (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
I'd already added you back before I saw this comment, so it's a bit redundant to say that I don't mind you adding me.... :-D

Date: 2009-07-16 04:43 am (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
I found this post really interesting, because of what I remember of my teen years (and I'm not quite so old and decrepit as to have completely forgotten them) I see similarities to both your experiences and [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's in various ways.

I had way too many "OH HAI KIDDO U R SO CUTE WHEN U TRY TO TALK" moments when I was younger, made worse by the fact that I had a pretty young-looking face even for my age, so your righteous anger sounds familiar. On the other side, once I got to college and was participating on various mailing lists and newsgroups I had people mistaking me for a postdoc when I was still a teenaged undergraduate...not because I was trying to be deceptive, but because what they saw of me was distilled down to my ability with written communication and that was something I was good at.

The grade/age discussion (where you stuck with age-peers and [livejournal.com profile] mrissa skipped a grade) is particularly amusing, because I skipped 1st grade, repeated 3rd grade to get back into a group of my age-peers, bumped up a couple of grades (but just in math) starting in 6th grade, and eventually started a year in 9th grade and ended it in 11th.

I may or may not be one of the people you look up to (I suspect not, actually) but based on what I'm seeing from you in this discussion I'd take you as at least an equal.

Date: 2009-07-16 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
I had way too many "OH HAI KIDDO U R SO CUTE WHEN U TRY TO TALK" moments when I was younger, made worse by the fact that I had a pretty young-looking face even for my age, so your righteous anger sounds familiar.

I am still getting these now.

Date: 2009-07-16 02:55 pm (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
I wish I could be surprised to hear that.

Unfortunately, I don't think my technique for lowering the frequency of those moments (namely pogonotrophy) would work very well for you.

Date: 2009-07-16 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrissa.livejournal.com
Not even if someone had been saying "Jehovah"? Oh well. Sigh.

Seriously, I'm pretty sure that the level of femme in my personal presentation contributes some to this, though of course not all. But the thing is, I think it's important for people to learn to deal with a wide variety of gender presentation from intelligent people who have a lot to say. If I get people to perceive me as smarter (or tougher or more competent or, yes, older) by looking less femme than I actually am, I reinforce the idea that smart/tough/competent/etc. women are not like that, when I actually am. Better that they should have to deal with the idea that I am a femme woman who can troubleshoot their experiment design and critique their story--it may be harder for me at the time, but it needs doing. (Other aspects of gender presentation come with other social assumptions that need undermining, too, of course, but not the same ones.)

Date: 2009-07-16 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
I am glad that there are people like you who challenge those perceptions, because that is a very worthy point.

Date: 2009-07-16 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aamcnamara.livejournal.com
"...not because I was trying to be deceptive, but because what they saw of me was distilled down to my ability with written communication and that was something I was good at."
Oh, the Internet. How I love it.

Your path through the educational system sounds something like I suspect mine would have if I hadn't been homeschooled for a while first and then switched schools eight times in the next five years, more or less.

The list of People I Look Up To is ever-shifting. It used to mostly consist of my sister. Currently it contains lots of writers. (Variations on "look up to" have ensued.) There are many many worthy people who are not on it, too. Which is to say, you are not specifically on it, but I am still pleased that you'd consider me an equal.

Date: 2009-07-17 03:30 am (UTC)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
From: [personal profile] ckd
At least an equal, and possibly better than that. There were certainly times that I was firmly convinced that I was the dumbest person in the room at Fourth Street.

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