Life as an Extreme Sport

who are you?

I received my Census form today, after receiving a note last week telling me I would be receiving a Census form this week. I’ll spare you my rant about government redundancy and costs, but you can make up your own and insert it here.

I have to say that, after filling out my census form – the first one I think I’ve ever filled out, since I have absolutely no memory of the 2000 census – that I am somewhat disappointed in the lack of information being collected these days. In the last few years, as I’ve done more and more research into genealogy and my family history, released census forms have been an incredible wealth of information. They’ve listed birth country, residency, occupations, educational levels, disabilities, languages spoken in the home; this is all data that helps build a rich tapestry of knowledge, and often offers valuable insight and information about people with whom we have little to no tangible connections.

In 72 years, all anyone searching for my data will learn is where I lived. While that might prove useful for someone who is trying to trace the nomadic tendencies that appear to run in my family, it’s hardly going to offer the sort of rich background that the 1930s census offers about my great-grandparents.


  1. A tangent to your main point, but this brings to mind something I caught just a tiny bit of on CBC last night – a guest was talking about how we should not ask “Who am I?” but “Where am I?” Once we understand our place our identity, according to him, will follow. I’ll have to look it up to hear the full thing and perhaps pass it on to you.

  2. Yeah, I’d be interested in seeing that – in part because I want to agree and disagree with the premise. Especially since, in this case, the census form is clearly just asking “where do you live and what ethnicity are you” – which is answering absolutely nothing about my identity!

    (However, I do think that in a broader, and if you will, more CHID-like sense of the concept of “where am I”, a lot can be determined about the self. Especially if you take where not as a literal being-in-place, but more of a being-in-time concept; where am I on my journey in life, etc.)

  3. I think it’s certainly true that your environs help shape who you are, and I’d be surprised to hear any rational person deny it. Catching the snippet made it sound like this person was taking it to an extreme level, but I think there might have been more substance if I’d heard the full thing. I expect a podcast for it sometime today.

  4. Isn’t how it works that not everyone receives the “long form” that asks for more information. Much less fun. I think we received a long form in 1990…asked about income, number of rooms in the house, etc. Or I may be misremembering and thinking of a marketing survey that was much more thorough.

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