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The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele — last modified Nov 20, 2023 11:03 AM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included asking personal questions on high school tours, Covid lockdowns, a monologue from the "Barbie" movie, and paying for a son's wedding.

As has been the case every day except one since October 7, the Gaza war thread was the most active with over 900 new posts since Friday. The most active thread after that was titled, "Stop asking student tour guides where they're applying to college". The thread, which was posted in the "Private & Independent Schools" forum, was started by a poster whose son conducts tours for prospective students at his high school. The original poster says that on almost every tour, he is asked to which colleges he is applying. The original poster considers this to be personal information and asks others to stop asking this question. I've noted before that DCUM can be very supportive to those that responders believe to be in legitimate need, but can be brutal to those whom users don't find sympathetic. The original poster appears to have fallen squarely into the second category. While there are posters that agree with the original poster, most of the responses reflect various levels of hostility. The first poster to respond called the original poster a "snowflake" and suggested that her son was not cut out for the job of tour guide. Other posters considered the question to be perfectly acceptable and suggested that her son should know how to politely deflect it. This thread managed to make it to 21 pages over the weekend which I think is surprising for such a mundane topic. The original poster sock puppeted a number of responses, but not really in a manner that would provoke conflict. Without having read all 21 pages, it appears that the main issue of debate is whether a question such as "where are you applying to college" is personal or not. A number of posters argued that private school students are more likely to consider this to be a personal question than public school students. Their reasoning is that the prestige of educational institutions is more important to private school students and parents. If this is true, and I don't know that it is, it may well be rooted in the commonly-held belief that one motivation for choosing private schools is to open doors for prestigious colleges. If a parent on a tour with a perspective student is mentally doing a cost-benefit analysis of the school and one benefit is thought to be enhanced college application prospects, it is understandable how this question might come naturally. At the same time, it is similarly understandable that a tour guide who knows the parent is hoping to hear "Harvard, Yale, and Princeton" may be reluctant to answer, "The University of Maryland, Rutgers, and Tufts". Some posters recognize that college opportunities are an important question to perspective students, but argue that the question should be asked generally. Instead of "where are you applying?", it should be asked as "Where do students normally apply?". Still others argue that where they apply is less interesting than where they actually end up attending and that information can be found elsewhere.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Health and Medicine" forum and titled "COVID Lockdowns Were a Giant Experiment. It Was a Failure." The original poster linked to an article in New York magazine and posted an excerpt that argued that data demonstrated that the United States and the United Kingdom had greater numbers of excess deaths during the first years of the pandemic than Sweden, which didn't have a lockdown. I, apparently like many of those responding, am tired of this debate. It is never-ending and much of the data is subject to interpretation and, therefore, can be used to support either side of the debate. There may be lessons to be learned for future pandemics, but I prefer to leave that to the doctors, scientists, and public health professionals rather than DCUM threads. However, it is what it is and what it is in this specific instance is an 18 page thread. Responses seem to fall in a number of what are now familiar categories. There are posters who argue that our response may not have been perfect, but it was the best we could do in difficult circumstances. Others argue that they knew at the time the response was wrong but that it was not permissible to push back. A number of posters argue that there are reasons for Sweden's lower death rate that have nothing to do with lockdowns. For instance, there is less obesity, less stressful lives, and better access to healthcare, all of which made the population more resilient to covid. Part of what makes this an unwelcome topic for me personally is that positions are hardened and intractable. Much of the debate is politicized. Those who supported strong actions are called "COVID cultists" and those who criticize such measures are brushed off as "MAGA" extremists. In addition, a number of myths have become fundamental arguments that repeatedly appear despite being wrong. One example in this thread is a poster who declares that the Amish did not lockdown, socially distance, or get vaccinated and suffered no excess deaths. In fact, studies show that the Amish observed significant excess deaths. Moreover, much of the debate seems less focused on learning lessons than allocating blame. One poster even advocated for "Nuremberg type trials". But, given the state of the debate, such trials could be held for either the lockdown proponents on one side or the anti-vax anti-mask proponents on the other. Both groups are accused of contributing to unnecessary deaths.

The next two most active threads were ones I've already discussed, the "Golden Bachelor" thread and the thread about voting for a third party. The thread after those was titled, "Barbie movie 'iconic' monologue is BS". Originally posted in the "Off-Topic" forum, I moved it to the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. I found the original post to be quite confusing. The original poster references a monologue in the "Barbie" movie but, due to the original poster's formatting choices — or more precisely lack of such choices — I am not entire sure what part is the monologue and what part is her own thoughts. This is not helped by the fact that I haven't seen the movie. But, my best guess is that the monologue is the part that describes the difficulty of being a women and the original poster's objection is that the monologue misrepresents reality. According to the original poster, things are not as bad as the monologue suggests. There are responses from posters who agree with the original poster and responses from those who disagree. One poster suggested that reactions might be based on generations with older women finding the monologue to be more accurate than younger women might. Similarly, another poster writes, "The monologue was totally accurate but also dated". Other posters are surprised that the original poster hasn't experienced the things described in the monologue. One poster even suggests that the original poster must have been living under a rock. Another poster claims that "Dudes can't relate" so, as a "dude", I guess I shouldn't say anything. But, personally I see a lot of truth in the monologue. Some posters argue that men face many of the same pressures. While it is true that men face pressures, I think they are different pressures. I think it is fair to say that men are not held to the same beauty standards, particularly when it comes to weight, to which women are held. In some cases, pressure on men may even be reducing. Where once men were pressured to provide for their families, with a working spouse that becomes a mutual responsibility. I would argue that a significant number of the threads in DCUM's relationship forum are provoked by exactly issues highlighted in the monologue. One other observation about this thread that has nothing to do with the movie. I hate generational labels and one characteristic that those who enjoy deploying such labels keeps annoying me. Posters who consider themselves to be "Gen-X" frequently appear locked into inaccurate understandings of generations. They think that boomers are ancient, totally forgetting about the Silent Generation. Similarly, one poster clearly implied that millennials are college-aged, causing another poster to remind that millennials are in their forties. To me this is simply further evidence that these categorizations should be avoided. They aren't even used correctly much of the time.

The next most active thread was the thread about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce that I've already discussed. Therefore, the last thread that I'll cover today was posted in the "Adult Children" forum and titled, "If you paid for a big wedding for your daughter, would you help with son's wedding too?". As the title suggests, the original poster asks whether you should offer to help financially with your son's wedding if you paid for your daughter's big wedding. Most posters argue that all children should be treated equally and find the idea of only contributing to the daughter's wedding to be outdated. While most of the posters seem to believe that the original poster is the mother in such a scenario, the original poster clarified in a subsequent post that she is the daughter-in-law married to the son of parents who paid for their daughter's wedding but contributed nothing to her own. This causes responses in the thread to become bifurcated with almost two separate discussions going on. On the one hand, some posters continue discussing the original issue and explaining how they would allocate wedding funding across multiple children. On the other hand, other posters explore why the original poster's in-laws didn't help pay for her wedding and why she is still holding a grudge. There were questions about why the original poster's own parents couldn't pay, whether her husband had received prior financial help from his parents, and whether the original poster would have also been willing to cede decision-making over her wedding if her in-laws paid for it. Some posters suggested that as a result of the disparate financial help, the original poster and her husband could expect to be relieved of future responsibilities with regard to her in-laws. For instance, elder-care needs could be left to the original poster's sister-in-law. Because the original poster ultimately did not have a wedding, something she now regrets, some posters suggested alternative celebrations. For example, a poster suggested a huge 25th anniversary celebration.

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