Monday, November 15, 2010

What Are You Talking About?

Very interesting post by Danah Boyd at Apophenia, about how the current wave of official concern over bullying, while an important topic, is likely to be completely missing the teenagers it tries to reach because they just don't see what goes on in their lives as "bullying," even if, by the standards of the adults talking about this topic, it is.

It's an example of how much language actually does matter.

If I say "don't vorgel," and you don't know that what I mean by that is "put extraneous indicators in your MARC subfields," then you're probably going to keep right on vorgeling if you were doing it before.

Especially if you have your own definition of vorgel, which is "wait outside someone's office door and say 'boo!' when they come out."

Because then you think, well, there's no way I would ever vorgel--it's childish and not very amusing, and because I don't do it or know anyone who does it, this person's extensive "Don't Vorgel" media campaign is completely irrelevant to me!

Um...OK, so that creative example is a little goofy. I blame my frenzied NaNoWriMo writing, which is siphoning off all my slightly more well-developed ideas.

But the point is, if two groups are really not talking about the same thing, it's going to be pretty hard to get any kind of understanding about what needs to be done, or how to do it.

And for heaven's sake, people: don't vorgel.


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