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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Dec 06, 2023 10:39 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a house explosion in Arlington, a bumper sticker, "average" and "above average" value women, and divorcing when children are in college.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "House Explosion in North Arlington" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. This is a tragic story that began in the late afternoon on Monday. Arlington police responded to reports of shots being fired within a house in North Arlington. Police determined that an occupant of a duplex had fired between 30 and 40 flares from a flare gun. After being unable to make contact with the individual inside the home, police obtained a search warrant and attempted to force entry. At that time, they heard what they believed to be gunshots from within the house followed by a devastating explosion. As video that was widely circulated on social media showed, the entire duplex was destroyed. Much of the early part of the thread was devoted to obtaining facts about what exactly happened and speculating about the cause of the explosion. Suggestions ran from a meth lab exploding to a gas leak. The owner of the duplex unit in question was soon identified and linked to a number of social media postings advocating various conspiracy theories, including accusing his neighbors of being spys who were out to get him. In real time developing stories of this nature, I have a difficult time trying to draw lines between what should and should not be allowed to be posted. Inevitably, whatever I decide will be imperfect. In this case, my primary concern was preventing misinformation, particularly when it came to identifying individuals. Therefore, I removed any mention of the duplex's owner's name. But, I allowed discussion of his social media postings. My thinking was that the individual might turn out to be innocent, as unlikely as that might be, but his social media postings exist regardless of his involvement in the explosion. As of this morning, Arlington Police have said that they believe that remains recovered from the home belong to the property owner, but positive identification is outstanding. A number of posts dealt with possible motivations for the individual's behavior. This included suggestions that he was a right-wing gun enthusiast or a left-wing radical. But, due to the social media postings, most attention focused on mental health. Many posters proposed various actions that could be taken with regard to those suffering from mental health problems and others discussed the difficulty of getting assistance for adults who have mental health challenges. In addition, considerable attention was focused on the family who lived in the adjoining duplex unit. That family, apparently evacuated prior to the explosion, has lost their home and all belongings. Many posters were eager to know how they might help them.

The next most active thread was the Gaza war thread and the thread after that was the one about Maury Elementary School, both of which I've previously discussed. After those, the most active thread was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "Terrible bumper sticker on teen car", the original poster says that she saw a bumper sticker saying, "I will not brake for children" on a car driven by a teen driver. She was upset because she saw the car less than a half-mile from where a pedestrian had recently been killed while in a crosswalk. My first reaction to this post was to wonder if it really belonged in the teen forum. My second was to wonder how the thread ever got to 9 pages. Most of the initial reactions were to suggest that the bumper sticker was a joke and that the original poster lacks a sense of humor. A number of posters also posted about other bumper stickers that they found funny. While the majority of those responsding were critical of the original poster, some even suggesting that she was trying to control speech, a few sided with her. More than one poster mentioned kids being hit by cars and killed recently. For my part, I must be completely missing the joke because I don't find the bumper sticker to be funny at all. That said, I wouldn't bother complaining about it though the original poster is certainly within her rights to do so. I do give credit to the one poster who made a valiant effort to explain the humor of the bumper sticker, seeing it as a satirical reaction to the "I brake for bikes" and similar stickers that are common. It is interesting, however, how "it's a joke" is apparently supposed to immunize offensive statements from criticism. It's also interesting, as one responder pointed out, that criticizing a bumper sticker is somehow considered an attack on freedom of speech but criticizing criticism of a bumper sticker is not. While the original poster's sense of humor may be lacking, I think the misunderstanding of freedom of speech characterizing many of the responses is more concerning. There were also a number of posters who were convinced that the original poster is a troll due to her subsequent posts adding increasingly dramatic information. But, frankly, it is not worth my effort to check whether or not the poster is a troll given the mundanity of this thread. Also, after finishing reading the thread, I moved it to the "Off-Topic" forum where it is more appropriate.

Next was a thread titled, "What distinguishes an ‘average woman’ from an ‘above average’ woman for dating and marriage" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. Maybe I am getting old and crotchety, but this sort of thread just shouts "insecurity" to me. Obviously, this is a subjective question and answers will necessarily be subjective. Moreover, it is likely that many of the answers will deal with things that can't be changed. As a result, whatever negative feelings someone may have had about themselves will probably only be enhanced. But, most of the responses in the thread failed to meet even these low expectations. Several posters mentioned beauty or attractiveness, which, of course, are also subjective judgements. One poster described herself, apparently believing that she represents the very pinnacle of value. It was also apparent that many posters interpreted their own preferences as being representative of all, or at least most, men. There was post after post explaining what "men" want when really the post only explained the poster's own desires. Before even the second page of the thread was complete, much of the discussion had turned to "high value" men. Then it inexplicably turned into a discussion of height of both men and women. From about page 6 on, the thread is essentially an argument about height. The basis of the debate is about the undesirability of short men and, as a short man, it was a joy to read. Some posters believe that short woman can attract tall guys, but others assert that this is not the case because tall men are afraid of having short sons. It is an interesting calculus, short women have reduced value because of the lack of value of short men. Others reject this notion, not necessarily because they value short men — though a few posters do — but because they don't think that a short woman will automatically produce short children. This changes the discussion from one of a women's innate characteristics to one about her reproductive capabilities. Along those lines, several posters mentioned the importance of a woman's family of origin, arguing that it played a role in establishing value. If the thread has any redeeming value at all, it is a couple of posts by male posters who tried to present males as something more than cavemen. But, sadly, they were attacked by other men who apparently insist that they really are cavemen.

The final thread that I will discuss today was also posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. This one was titled, "If your parents lived amicably and then divorced while you were in college, how did you do?". The original poster says that she and her husband get along well and have a lot of fun together. But, are not "compatible emotionally or physically". She is unhappy in the marriage but wants to stay together because of their 7-year-old daughter. The original poster seems to be considering remaining in the marriage until their daughter goes to college and then divorcing. She is interested in hearing from "adults whose parents stayed in a low conflict marriage and divorced later in life." The basis of the original poster's post appears to be a belief that divorcing later would be easier on her daughter. Several posters argue that such divorces are still very difficult for the children, even when they are older. At least one poster whose parents divorced when she was young argued that a divorce when she was older would have been easier, but this really only highlights the impossibility of objectively evaluating concepts such as "easier" or "harder" when it comes to suffering. The main point that posters make is that it is not easy in either circumstance. Posters whose parents divorced when they were college-aged explained a number of factors that wouldn't be immediately apparent. For instance, parents of young children negotiate visiting rights as part of the divorce. But that is not the case when children are over 18. As a result, the child is left to make such decisions as who to visit on school holidays, putting them in the middle of parental drama. Moreover, a huge number of posters think that the original poster is in a pretty good situation and should not consider divorce at all. They argue that she and her husband have fun together and are good partners and that is more than several of those responding claim to have in their relationship. Some argue that these are the important factors in marriage during midlife. Posters argue that the original poster should work on her marriage rather than worrying about divorce. In a subsequent post, the original poster made her relationship with her husband sound much worse than it had seemed initially. This created a little more support for divorce though most of that was in favor of divorcing sooner rather than later.

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