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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 01, 2024 11:22 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included covid lockdowns, a mom's attractiveness, Gen Z's lack of romance will cause the end of the world, and a college applicant's bad choices.

The "Travis and Taylor" thread was again the most active thread yesterday. But, since I 've already discussed it, I'll start with the next most active thread which was titled, "One by one, the lockdown myths are crumbling" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. I had not noticed this thread until this morning and, when I did, I was disappointed to see that not only are thread on topics such as this still being created, but that they are among the most active. It has been clear for some time that some individuals have been so traumatized by the response to the pandemic that they may never get over it. There seems to be a deep set desire among these folks to receive some sort of official acknowledgement of wrongdoing and a full apology. The problem is that very few of those who supported the measures in question have changed their opinion to any significant agree. They don't think anything done was wrong and feel no compulsion to apologize. So, threads such as these result in little more than endless debate that neither advances the discussion nor satisfies anyone. In this specific case, the original poster linked to an opinion article in "The Telegraph", a British newspaper. The author claims that British officials who once promoted "zero covid" now claim to have only supported the "maximum suppression" of covid and considers this to be a significant backtracking that reveals the bankruptcy of the entire lockdown endeavor. Of course, it does nothing of the sort. Whether the officials are truly backtracking or simply making a distinction without a difference — "zero covid" is not that much different than "maximum suppression" — that is a discussion of goals, not methods. It is a stretch beyond reason to suggest the change in terminology amounts to a renunciation of anti-covid measures such as lockdowns. Nevertheless, this is how covid discussions tend to go on DCUM. A poorly reasoned article that most users can't read because it is behind a paywall is accepted as fact and off to the races we go. Many of those responding are, like me, well past the limits of their patience for these topics. They point out the advantages of hindsight (which in this case doesn't appear to have been an advantage at all) and argue that it is, in fact, those like the article's author that are attempting to rewrite history. Moreover, lockdown conditions in the United Kingdom were considerably different than in the United States so the article is not even relevant to our experience. But, those angry about covid measures are not to be denied their opportunity to air their grievances. As usual, there are complaints about school closures. What I have realized about schools is that some families suffered terrible experiences while for others, while the time probably wasn't great, it was not all that bad. Those in the first group tend to fixate on school closures and emphasize any negative impacts. The second group, which in my experience is much larger, has a more nuanced view and is less interested in rehashing the topic. Therefore, what is at issue here is really two different realities. Bridging the gap between the two is probably impossible and this dispute is unlikely to ever be resolved.

The next most active thread yesterday was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "I recently realized that my 13 y.o. daughter is comparing her attractiveness to mine, so I need to step up my game", the original poster explains that when she was a teenager she viewed her mother as "fat, ugly, unattractive" and now realizes that her own daughter is beginning to notice the original poster's appearance. The original poster acknowledges that she is "no longer as attractive/thin/put-together" as she was before her daughter was born and wants to "become a more attractive woman". The original poster says that wants to improve her appearance so that her daughter will feel proud of her. I am struggling to see how this is a tween or teen issue rather than a topic better suited for the beauty forum or perhaps something addressed in terms of the original poster's own self-esteem. But, many of those responding do see a connection to the daughter, primarily hoping that the original poster's attitudes are not passed on. One of the first to respond wrote, "Model being okay with natural body changes." This was a common theme throughout the thread with poster after poster arguing that the original poster was projecting her own feelings onto her daughter. Another poster wrote, "You are clearly passing along some VERY unhealthy ideas about health and beauty to your child." Posters were not against the original poster improving her appearance, but rather the way it was framed involving her daughter. One wrote:

"If you want to focus more on your appearance for your mental health, that is great. But it sounds like you want your daughter to become shallow and judgmental. That would not be my objective."

Several posters pointed out that teenagers are normally embarrassed by their parents and even if the original poster improved her appearance, her daughter would likely find something else about which to be embarrassed. Several posters suggested that, like it or not, appearances matter. These posters had some sympathy for the original poster and suggested ways to address beauty issues with her daughter that wouldn't necessarily create a complex. For instance, she might go clothes shopping with her daughter, discuss beauty topics with her, and even let her daughter give her clothing advice. One of the most ironic things about this thread were the significant number of posters who responded to those concerned about negative body issues being passed on to the daughter by accusing them of being fat and ugly. Basically, the original poster should hope that her daughter does not turn out like those posters.

Next was a thread titled "Lack of Romamce Among Gen Z teens" and, like the previous thread, posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. The original poster lists a number of unequivocal statements about "Gen Z" kids related to relationships, calls the group "boring" and fears that they will graduate from high school without having been kissed. She concludes that "There’s no hope for this generation". I cannot begin to explain how tired I am of threads fixated on alleged problems with other generations. If there is a lazier topic, I have not yet encountered it. The best thing I can say about this thread is that it is not another instance of boomer bashing. I am not sure where to begin with this thread. As one poster pointed out, half the country is obsessed that children are being exposed to pornography at school and drag queens at story time and this original poster is upset that they are not kissing at school dances. Some posters blamed this on the "Me Too" movement and claimed that boys are too afraid to attempt anything sexual with a girl. There are a lot of "back in my day..." style posts in which posters complain that "the kids today" don't act exactly as those poster behaved. Others argue that things are not nearly as dire as the original poster would have it. They claim that relationships have changed and often involve more time spent as friends before a romantic relationship begins. Moreover, kids are very busy with heavily scheduled activities. There is often more parental involvement — as demonstrated by the number of posters intimately familiar with their kids' dating habits (or lack thereof). But other posters describe Gen Z in completely opposite terms, claiming that an almost libertine environment exists in which casual sex is common and "There's no relationships or dating. They just hook up." In fact, it is possible that both situations are true which highlights my criticisms of using generational labels. A generation is simply a group born within a certain time period. Members may or may not have some things in common, but they are definitely not all alike. Moreover, I am extremely doubtful that the future of civilization hinges on whether or not high school kids are kissing.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "Bad choices", the original poster says that her daughter faces three choices for the next year: 1) attend an expensive university that she doesn't like; 2) enroll in community college; or 3) work for a year and try to get better results next year. She asks for suggestions. Almost nobody favors the third option, listing multiple reasons that taking a year off to work is undesirable. Attending community college is the favorite choice of many of those who respond. Even the original poster likes that idea but says that peer pressure and the idea that community college represents failure is making her daughter reluctant to make that choice. Attending the expensive school also doesn't have many proponents and the original poster says that changed circumstances within their family make it financially challenging. But, the posters who really stand out in this thread are those who are likely participants in my proposed fantasy college admissions league. They demand the daughter's stats, question her previous application strategy, and propose a range of alternative ideas. The most common suggestion was to pursue admissions to one of the universities whose application deadlines have not yet passed. Some posters even list schools that are still accepting applications. Specifically, posters settled on the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as the best option. Unfortunately, the original poster disappeared after the 2nd page of the 11 page thread. Hopefully she was still reading because there was a lot of excellent advice provided. I poke fun at the fantasy league posters, but they did a lot of leg work and came up with some great ideas. Some posters were legitimately disappointed that they could not provide better suggestions because they didn't have enough information about the original poster's daughter's circumstances. They really wanted to help. For all the issues from which DCUM suffers, there are frequently threads like this one that show how great the website can be. It is remarkable that such good advice could be provided in such a short period of time. Frankly, the original poster couldn't have hoped for more. I just hope she was able to benefit from it.

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