Our Census stuff arrived so naturally I have a few thoughts about it. And it's probably not what you are thinking either.
First thought: On the front of the envelope it says very clearly, in large bold lettering that filling out and sending in the census information is not optional. It is required. And It Is The Law. Literally it reads, 'Your Response is required by law" only in all caps. Ok. I knew that. But inside, on the accompanying letter is says in regular ordinary font that I am being invited to participate. Actually it says, "This is your invitation to respond". Well which one is it? Am I invited to participate as if I was invited to a party? And if I don't want to attend the party I can RSVP my regrets? Or is it a law and mandatory? (Oh I know the answer. I have to fill it out. It just feels a little passive/agressive y'know?)
My second thought was my surprise at how few questions were asked and how incredibly boring they are. Not offensive, not intrusive, not even interesting. Our names. Our birthdays. Our phone number. Our race. That was pretty much it. There was an opportunity to fine tune our race if we wished though. That was at least a little bit interesting. As Tim and I are both white (as far as we know anyway), that is the box I ticked. But underneath there was a line where I could have chosen, English, Irish, French etc.etc.etc. Because we are both descended from multiple different backgrounds I just left it at white. They didn't have a box for "mishmosh".
The reasons the simplicity of the questions was a surprise to me were twofold.
First I heard a lot of chatter about people being horribly offended by the questions on the form. I saw nothing offensive. Nothing. Maybe my phone number is offensive? I assume that there is just about zero information about me that the government doesn't already know. I have a birth certificate so they already know my name, birthdate (and place, and my parents names for that matter - info which wasn't requested by the way). I have a social security number so I know they know that. Which means if they wanted any banking or employment information about me, they certainly have access to it. Our phone number is public record as is our address (which they know because they mailed the form to us) We pay taxes so they know everything on that form. Tim was in the Marine Corps so his life is an open book to the government. I mean if they really wanted to know it, I'm sure they could find out pretty much everything about us with little effort. So while I had no issue with filling out the forms, I'm fairly certain that they probably already know all of that stuff about us. And more.
The other thing that surprised me about how basic and boring the questions were is kind of because of my Dad. He was really into genealogy. Which kind of got me interested in it too. And I've seen Census records from the early 1900's and they were, frankly, a lot more interesting. Questions like, your occupation, your primary language, your birthplace. There was even a column for literacy, as in...is the individual in question literate. Those kinds of questions. Way more interesting stuff.
Every ten years since 1790 I believe, a regular census of the population has been collected in this country. And I also believe that every year, the questions asked are a little different and this year, I think, is the easiest, shortest, most benign list of questions yet. Easy Peasy.
But in the future, when generations ahead are seeking information on their ancestors, unless they can key into, what will then be really really old technology, they won't have a clue. Isn't that funny to think about? That the latest and greatest and amazing technology that is at our fingertips and wowing us right now will be as useless and old fashioned to future generations as a butter churn is to us now.
I laughed out loud the first time I read that children are no longer being taught cursive in our schools. Because that means that the only people, just one generation from now, who be able to read our diaries will be linguists who specialize in the ancient language of "cursive". Teehee.
Ah well, that is for future generations to sort out. For now, maybe we need to create some sort of "Rosetta Stone" for our great great great great grandchildren so that they can learn about those who came before them.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.