Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why is genealogy considered a "retirement" activity?

While driving home from Salt Lake City, Utah to Mesa, Arizona, we took one of the three or four routes possible and went through Moab, Utah. You may never have heard of Moab, but it is well known for two activities; mountain bike riding and Jeep tours. Just in case you are not acquainted with either of these activities as practiced in Moab, please see the following videos:

Please excuse the background music. As we drove through Moab and the surrounding area, we saw hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in both activities. Now, I have to admit that I have done both activities, though perhaps not to the extreme shown in the videos. But my point is simple, if you have any idea of the cost of either a rock crawler or a high tech mountain bike, plus the time invested and the medical and insurance costs, you can see that both these activities are time consuming and expensive.

The point here is that people will do what they are interested in doing and the cost of the activity is no measure of the interest. I priced a Jeep Wrangler recently with some of the equipment shown in the video and it was over $40,000, if you wanted to drive it on the road. Most of these vehicles are trailered to the location, so the owners have a regular truck plus this vehicle, plus the trailer.

All the time I hear complaints about how expensive it is to do genealogy. I also hear how little time people have to do genealogy. Let's face it. Compared to many, many common leisure activities, genealogy is very inexpensive. So why do we think about genealogy as something for old folks who are retired to do? Why do we have to make an effort to involve young people? Are the mountain bike people and rock crawlers worried about the participation of retired folks in their activities? Are they trying to recruit the youth?

Is there something so different about genealogy that we are concerned that people will simply stop doing it? Are we running out of genealogists, like we are of physics professors? Why will people spend thousands of dollars on a leisure activity like golf or other such activities and begrudge a few hundred dollars for genealogy?

There seems to be a whole cultural issue here. I am pigeon-holed as strange because I decided to quit my regular job and do genealogy. If I had decided to retire to one of the many "active retirement communities" in the area and spend my days playing golf, cards and gambling, I would simply have conformed to the expected.

I think we, as genealogists, need to articulate our interest in a way that validates the activity and recognizes the unique nature of what we do. I also see that we need to be inclusive but not in a way that  denigrates the core values of genealogy.

More about this later, I am sure.

1 comment:

  1. If you like genealogy you will find the time & money to pursue the research. If not you will find excuses.