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Tuesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Dec 27, 2023 11:30 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included Taylor Swift, elite colleges losing significance, a boyfriend who wants his own child, and wanting to transfer from an Ivy League university.

The most active thread yesterday was one originally created back in September 2022, but revived recently. Titled, "Taylor Swift is awful (and her music isn't even very good)" and posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum, the original poster linked to an article in the Daily Beast that he (I'm guessing the poster is a dude) said summed up everything that he doesn't like about Taylor Swift. Notable about the original post is that that the poster is extremely defensive about his dislike of Swift and provides three bullet points defending his right to criticize her. The first of those points consists of several sentences providing multiple arguments that it is not misogynistic to criticize Swift. It looks like this thread reached 31 pages before it died down and was dormant for almost a year, brought back to life by a post in early October. It lost momentum again only to be revived again in mid-December by an all-caps poster proclaiming his dislike for Swift. Since that time, the thread has more than doubled in length and is currently 67 pages long. If this thread can be viewed in parts, the most recent pages can be considered "Swift Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Swifties". I am obviously not going to read 67 pages or even the 13 pages created yesterday (which made this thread the most active of the day). But, from skimming a couple of pages, it looks like the posts are a combination of criticisms of Swift and her music, criticism of Swift's fans, and rejections of those criticisms. Like the original poster from more than a year ago, many posters are defensive about their criticisms of Swift and complain that they will be attacked by Swifties for voicing negative opinions. A common theme is that Swift presents herself and her music as representing all women. Therefore, criticism of her or her music is interpreted as criticism of women generally rather than Swift specifically. More than one poster argued that Swift has cleverly created this situation and are determined to pierce the shield of femininity with which they believe Swift protects herself. Beyond that, several posters take issue with the quality of her lyrics. One tactic was to claim that they are simply rip-offs of other artists and lack originality. One poster who was brought to my attention thanks to a thread in the "Website Feedback" forum claimed that a Swift song was a knock-off of a U2 song. Ironically, the poster making this allegation also claimed not to be familiar with either U2 or Swift. Needless to say, his argument was not overly convincing and was accepted by virtually nobody. One tactic employed by Swifties to counter the criticisms was the most Swifty thing imaginable: quoting Swift's lyrics.

The next most active thread yesterday was the Gaza war thread which I will skip because I have already covered it. After that was a thread posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum and titled, "Have colleges totally lost their value as a signal?" The original poster begins with a premise with which I expect many others will disagree. That is the idea that in the past college acceptances accurately represented the abilities of the students. In other words, those accepted at Yale were the top students and those accepted at state flagship universities or popular liberal arts colleges were a level below. Now, because of "Diversity, equity, and inclusion" initiatives, those at the top schools are unlikely to actually be the top students. The top students, in turn, may have resorted to attending lesser schools. As a result, the original poster predicts that universities will no longer be accurate means of accessing younger adults. Rather than reading this 11 page thread, I will simply present a counter-argument to this post. My own premise is that in the past glorified by the original poster, acceptance to elite colleges was largely limited to a privileged class that generally saw attendance of elite universities as something that was deserved on the basis of wealth and social standing. Access to elite colleges was less likely to be a result of outstanding academic performance and more likely to be due to legacy status, family wealth, or social connections. As members of this group have seen their privileges reduced, they have launched a multi-pronged attack on current admissions policies. The original post of this thread is almost the perfect distillation of the result of those efforts. While the Supreme Court has prohibited the use of race in determining admissions, posters like the original poster still insist that race is a factor used to admit less qualified candidates. Far from putting an end to such arguments, the court decision seems to have given impetus to even stronger claims that colleges are favoring minority students. One theory that I think may have substance is based on the concern that attention will turn to legacy admissions and policies that allow admission in return for significant financial contributions. In an effort to protect these "hooks" of the privileged, focus on DEI is being increased. The goal is to associate DEI with lower-performing students, much as the original poster is doing with this thread. In theory, the same folks that support DEI initiatives are likely to attack legacy and other privileged admissions hooks. Therefore, discrediting DEI and its supporters contributes to protecting admissions policies that favor the traditional elite.

Next was a thread titled, "Long term gf has kids I love but now I think I want my oen [sic]". Posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum, the original poster says that his girlfriend has two children from a previous marriage. He loves the kids as if they are his own, but increasingly wishes that he could have his own child. His girlfriend is reluctant to have another baby due to their ages (she is 40 and he is 46) and the disruption it would cause to their lives. This is an 11 page thread of which I haven't read very much. Among the posts that I read, most argued that the original poster should be satisfied acting as father to his girlfriend's children and that his prospects of finding another woman with whom to have children were not particularly good. Some argued that he has waited too long and the opportunity to have his own children has passed. They suggested that he is too old at this point for his own children. However, others argued his desire to have his own child was reasonable and not out of reach. Therefore, these posters argued, he should give his girlfriend an ultimatum and, if she didn't agree to have another child, he should move on. One argument that recurs in the thread is that the original poster would have to find a woman in her thirties with whom to have a child. However, given his age, many suspect that few woman of that age would be interested in him. Others contest this point and suggest that women in their 30s would be interested in him and a few posters describe themselves as women who married older men and have had successful relationships. In addition, quite a few posters are critical of the original poster and think that he is asking too much of his girlfriend. In those posters' opinions, he would be doing his girlfriend a favor by breaking up with her and she would be dodging a bullet. One poster argued that the original poster should not have  started a relationship with his girlfriend if he was not content simply being a step-dad. As she wrote, "a 45ish man who doesn't know what the hell they want and drags a mom and kids along is a selfish jerk." Much of the thread focuses on the difficulty of dating as a single mother. Many such women are reluctant to allow boyfriends to meet their children until they are very sure of their relationship, they set rules to protect their children, and move very slowly and carefully. Then, if after all that, someone like the original poster throws a wrench into the works, it is very upsetting to both the woman and her children.

The final thread at which I'll look today was posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "DD wants to transfer out of top university but DH won't allow it", the original poster says that her daughter is a freshman at an Ivy League college but is very unhappy and wants to transfer to another school. However, the original poster's husband refuses to pay for any college that is not an "Ivy equivalent" which is a very limited list of schools. The daughter has identified several schools to which she would like to transfer, but the husband refuses to pay for any of them. Therefore, the original poster is trapped between having an unhappy daughter at a school she dislikes and not being able to afford a school that her daughter would like. Almost immediately a poster expressed suspicion that the original poster is a well-known troll that has posted in this forum for years. That poster has variously posed as a student at Columbia University who was so unhappy as to be suicidal and the mother of such a student. The similarity of the original poster and the troll was increased when the original poster subsequently clarified that her daughter attends Columbia. The original poster denied being that poster, however and I can't tell either way. Posters who assumed the original poster was not trolling attempted to provide helpful responses. Several suggestions were offered to help the original poster's daughter adapt better to her current university. This included taking easier classes and simply giving the school more time. Other posters suggested that it is difficult to transfer as a sophomore and, therefore, the daughter should be expected to spend at least two years at the school. Several posters side with the original poster's husband and argue that Columbia presents too good of an opportunity to turn down. They don't accept that the daughter's situation is simply intolerable. Throughout the thread posters offer recommendations of other colleges that they consider to both be good and have less pressure than Columbia. But, since few if any of these colleges meet the father's requirement of being "Ivy-equivalent", the suggestions don't really address the problem. Other posts focus on the difficulty of Columbia and whether the environment is difficult and might lead to the daughter being unhappy. Ultimately, I don't think DCUM posts can do much to solve the original poster's dilemma, assuming that it is even real. Posts on DCUM are not going to change either the father's refusal to pay or the daughter's unhappiness.

Anonymous says:
Dec 27, 2023 04:56 PM
"As members of this group have seen their privileges reduced, they have launched a multi-pronged attack on current admissions policies. The original post of this thread is almost the perfect distillation of the result of those efforts."

Fabulous writing, Jeff.
Once again, you continue to have your finger laid firmly on the pulse of our precious DCUMers! 😁
Jeff Steele says:
Dec 27, 2023 06:04 PM
Thanks! I appreciate the comment.
Avalon says:
Dec 29, 2023 10:04 PM
You're very welcome!
Your snark (while not inherently obvious usually) is what I look forward to most -- especially when it's being directed at a certain subset of DCUMers
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