Monday's Most Active Threads
Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included colleges that change lives, stay-at-home moms, an assault at a MCPS middle school, and how to lose 15 pounds.
The most active thread yesterday was an old thread that I have already discussed and, therefore, will skip today. That was the thread titled "Travis and Taylor" which is about Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. The thread has received renewed interest because Kelce is going to the SuperBowl and Swifties, who doubted the authenticity of this relationship in the beginning, are starting to have second thoughts. The second most active thread is another one that I will skip, the Gaza war thread. The most active thread after those two was titled, "Favorite College that changes lives?" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. This will require a bit of explanation for the uninitiated. "Colleges That Change Lives" was originally a 1996 college guide written by Loren Pope that profiled 40 liberal arts colleges that Pope believed were particularly focused on educating students and performed better than many of the traditional "top" colleges. In 1998, a non-profit with the same name was created to promote the colleges reviewed in Pope's book. DCUM has a small group of posters who are huge fans of CTCL colleges and either frequently start threads about the schools or bring up the colleges in other threads. Similarly, there is a group that is very cynical of this entire endeavor and consider CTCL to be little more than a marketing organization that promotes second-rate schools. Whenever these two groups interact, it results in many posts being reported and an increased workload for me. This thread was started by the original poster asking which schools users like, hate, or about which they know nothing. Several colleges from the list are mentioned as ones that posters like and several posters also asked for recommendations of colleges with specific characteristics. It is clear that several posters accept the premise that these schools punch well above their weight. Almost implicit in the CTCL discourse is the assertion that traditional college rankings should be ignored because these schools are flying under the radar. So much so that when a poster mentioned the two CTCL schools ranked highest on the US News & World Report rankings, the poster was criticized for pursuing the "wrong outcomes". One of the usual critics of CTCL argued that the schools are second tier and "attract mediocre students who wouldn’t have a chance at top schools." One thing about CTCL schools that I think is misunderstood is that the schools are chosen based on their perceived commitment to student achievement. Outside of that factor, the schools don't necessarily have much in common. This provides both fans and critics the ability to cherry pick and promote either one school's accomplishments or another school's failures as representative of the entire list. I suspect that for many of the CTCL colleges, inclusion on the list provides little more than marginal benefit as several of the schools have reputations that have been established independently of CTCL.
DCUM used to be plagued by constant battles between work-out-of-the-house-moms and stay-at-home-moms. With the popularity of working from home, that first group probably needs a new name. While these fights have dropped off considerably, they still pop up from time to time. The next most active thread, which was posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum and titled, "Be honest- what do you think about women who are content to be just wives and mothers?", seems like an attempt to promote such a debate. I've come to realize that "be honest" normally means "go ahead and be rude" and phrasing the choice to forego traditional employment as "just" being a wife and mother signals exactly where such women stand in the original poster's view. As such, I didn't have high hopes for this thread. But, in what I have started to see as a trend on DCUM, posters are not so easily baited into "mommy wars" anymore. The moms who work out of the house (or telecommute) either don't care about, admire, or in some cases are even jealous of those who — as the original poster says — are "just" wives and mothers. In some cases, the moms with employment worry that the stay-at-home moms may lack the ability to survive independently in the case of divorce, but generally they have a "live and let live" attitude. For their part, the stay-at-home-moms don't react defensively, but instead are confident and happy with their circumstances. To be sure, there is some of the usual bickering but the audience is just not very receptive to it. The laissez-faire attitude may have to do with the relatively high socio-economic standing of many of our users. Both the employed moms and the stay-at-home-moms seemed to think that the thread was aimed at financially well-off women rather than those struggling in poverty. As such, replies such as this were fairly common:
"I have a bunch of money. I’m more like someone who retired really early than like someone who was dying to be a SAHM. I didn’t really like my job so it was an easy call."
Plenty of the employed moms would love to be in her position. And dads too, for that matter. Generally, the view of many, and probably most, of the employed moms was represented by this post:
"Just like all working woman aren't identical, neither are SAHMs. Every human's needs, wants, circumstances, resources, abilities, desires, resources, relationships are different.
While the thread is not a complete demonstration of mutual respect, it is a far cry from the mommy fights that once dominated such discussions.
Next was a thread titled, "Report of girl violently attacked at Lakelands Park middle school" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. The original poster linked to a tweet on X saying that a 12 year old girl had been assaulted at Lacklands Park Middle School and had been transported to Fairfax Inova Pediatrics Trauma Unit with head injuries. Posters are understandably concerned about the girl's condition. But, the thread also follows what has become a common pattern in threads involving student misconduct. Posters demand punishment for the perpetrators, warn that the school system will attempt a cover-up, and advocate for media attention. There is a persistant view that schools are hiding a wave of violence in schools and that the media is failing to cover this problem. Adding to this is the tendency of schools to be closed-mouthed where students are concerned and the lack of public information feeds the rumor mill. As if things couldn't get more confusing, the local Fox affiliate published and then removed an article about the event. The disappearance of the article led some posters to argue that the details being posted in the thread were likely incorrect. But, the Fox article reappeared later with no apparent changes. Given the shortage of information, posters relied on NextDoor with information from that source being posted. One poster said that she had viewed a video that her son had of the incident. Both her account and a statement released by the school were generally consistent and did not support the allegation that the girl had suffered a serious head injury. In contrast to this, other posters argued that reports that the student had been sent to a trauma unit suggested the injury was serious. Much is made of the hospital in question because it is located in Virginia and further away than several other hospitals. However, the Fairfax hospital turned out to be the closest option with a pediatric trauma center. As far as I can tell, no information about the victim's condition has been released. As a result, the thread is divided between those posters imagining a severe injury that justifies her transport to a trauma center and those whose understanding is that the fight did not amount to enough to cause serious harm. This is directly connected to the posters' broader views of the incident. For some this was a run of the mill student altercation that is no big deal. For others, it was a vicious assault that demands media attention and significant changes within the school. The information vacuum is feeding a frenzy of speculation with posters left unsure about what to believe.
The final thread for today was posted in the "Diet and Exercise" forum. Titled, "15 lbs overweight, holistic doctor wants me to try weight loss injections". the original poster says that she had generally maintained a comfortable weight but went on a SSRI and gained 15 pounds. She leads an active lifestyle that includes walking/jogging daily, a daily pilates class, and lifting weights. She follows a healthy diet that leaves very little room for cutting calories. Her doctor has recommended weight-loss injections for a period of time to get her back to her normal weight. She asks if anyone has any advice. To say that DCUM is not normally sympathetic to those with weight issues is to massively understate things. On top of that, many posters consider weight-loss drugs to be "cheating". They believe that any weight gain is the result of a lack of discipline and that all weight problems can be solved simply by exercising more and eating less. But, such advice does not help those like the original poster who are already eating and exercising properly. Several posters simply don't accept that the amount of exercise is satisfactory and argue for more. Some posters suggest that the poster may have just reached a "new normal" reflecting the impact of menopause. A number of posters scoff at the suggestion of injections and question the competency of the doctor. Basically the thread consists of poster after poster offering their favorite weight-loss advice. Whatever they advise comes with an admonition that the original poster is not doing enough of it. She is told to walk or run more even though she is already walking or running five miles a day. She is told to lift more weights and also that lifting weights won't help. She admitted to an occasional drink and was roundly criticized and told to cut all alcohol. There is such a wide spectrum of advice, much of it contradictory, that I am sure that the original poster has no idea what to do. Several posters report being in identical situations and are at a similar loss for ideas about how to address the problem. One consistent argument is that the original poster is doing the right things, but just needs to give it more time. But, almost everyone agrees that she should get a new doctor.