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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 16, 2024 12:38 PM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included being called a "sadsack", a sexual assault by an Uber driver, test optional college admissions, and the impact of children on a women's career.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "My mother-in-law called me a ‘sadsack’" and posted in the "Family Relationships" forum. The original poster says that her husband makes enough money that she was able to quit a job that she hated and has been staying home enjoying the chance to decompress. Over the weekend, her mother-in-law came over to babysit and asked the original poster, when she would stop "sitting around like a sadsack." This greatly upset the original poster who has been dwelling on it for several days and even emailed her mother-in-law teling her that she had been offended. The mother-in-law is a retired lawyer for whom work was always very important and she probably can't relate to the original poster's desire to relax for a while. While the purpose of the thread was for the original poster to simply vent, the family relationships forum has an amazing ability to turn the most mundane of topics into a lengthy thread and this one has already reached 16 pages. Much of the discussion is provoked by the specific term used by the mother-in-law, "sadsack". This normally refers to someone who is sitting around moping and feeling sorry for themself. The original poster says that this does not describe her and the suggestion that it does is offensive. Nevertheless, many posters contend that the mother-in-law's choice of that term must reflect her perception of the original poster. As such, some posters suggest ways that the original poster might try to change that perception. Other posters try to explain, if not outright justify, the mother-in-law's description of the original poster. Many posters suggest simply shrugging the whole thing off. On the other hand, a number of posters are sympathetic to the original poster and are critical of the mother-in-law. Some argue that having time to decompress is normal and healthy and that there is no reason to criticize the original poster for not working. What contributes to making this thread lengthy are posts that attempt to read into the original poster's situation, for instance suggesting that there might be some truth to her mother-in-law's remark or, going further, arguing that the original poster is taking advantage of her husband and possibly overburdening him. This in turn provokes complaints about negative stereotypes about women who don't work out of the house. Ultimately, I have to agree with the poster who wrote, "10 pages of handwringing over the word "sad sack." Some of you need thicker skins." Little did that poster know that the handwringing would continue for another 6 pages.

The second most active thread yesterday was one titled, "GA Case" about former President Donald Trump's indictment in Georgia. I discussed this thread way back in August, but a lot has happened since then. The thread is now 135 pages long and dealing with an entirely different court action involving the prosecutors in the case. While there is a lot to be said about this topic, I'll follow my usual procedure of skipping threads that I've already discussed. The most active thread following that one was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum. Titled, "Sexual Assault By Uber Driver on Teen in DC", the original poster says the teenage son of a close friend was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver in DC over the weekend. The original poster then goes on to say that she will not check back on the thread but just wanted to warn others who might allow their teens to use Uber. Most of the discussion is about the wisdom of allowing teens to use Uber. Many posters contend that this represents neglect on the part of the parents and suggests poor parenting. Many other posters are angered by this accusation. One poster pointed out that her daughter is probably at more risk while riding in a car driven by a teenage boy then she is from an Uber driver. Another poster says that she always engages in Facetime calls while riding in an Uber and warns that there are always people preying on others. Because the original poster did not provide any details whatsoever about this incident, which for that matter, we only have her word to go by that it actually happened, there is almost nothing about this specific attack that can be discussed. Instead, almost all of the discussion involved the wisdom or lack thereof of allowing teens to use Uber. In addition, there was discussion of threats presented by alternative forms of transportation. A teen driving himself is often at risk and there have been sexual assaults on public transportation. But many posters consider allowing teens to use Uber to be irresponsible parenting and it doesn't appear that anything will change their minds. They simply repeat this over and over. What is missing from a lot of these responses is any consideration of risk management. Almost anything involves risk, including riding in an Uber. If this risk is concerning, there are ways to manage it such as riding with another person or, as posters suggested, engaging in a phone or Facetime conversation.

The next most active thread was titled, "Test Optional?" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster describes her son who has a great grade point average, good extracurricular activities, strong advanced placement achievements, and is a White male. The original poster asks others what their experience was applying without submitting standardized test scores. As I have repeatedly written, many posters treat this forum like a fantasy college application league. Therefore, rather than simply relating experiences as requested, they begin gaming out this student's chances and suggesting how to improve them. This bothers the original poster who doesn't want to have that discussion. Other posters do report their experiences which vary from quite good to acceptable. The problem with how the original poster framed this is that it is not clear how valuable other's experiences will be to her son. Admissions, especially at selective colleges, depends on so many factors that it is impossible to know the impact of applying test optional. This is probably why so many posters discuss strategy and offer advise about whether to submit test scores or not rather than sticking to the specific request about experience. Fairly early in the thread, the original poster appears to have disappeared and other posters provided stats for their kids. So the thread lost most of its original focus and simply became another discussion about test optional applications. Most of the thread consists of posts about the wider issue of test optional, posts advising about the best course of action for a specific student, and the occasional response to the original poster. In this regard, the thread lacks much coherence and is not that much different from the countless earlier discussions about test optional applications.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Jobs and Careers" forum. Titled, "Women, how has having kids impacted your career?", the original poster says that she is on the fence about having children and would like to hear from others how having children impacted their careers. As you would expect, several posters say that having children ruined their careers. Most of them say that they had to choose between children and a career and chose their children. Work could never be their first priority. But, also as you would expect, several posters say that their careers advanced after having children and, in some cases, becoming a parent actually made them a better employee. This is because they were forced to learn to focus, prioritize, and be more organized. Several posters said that the ability to juggle both children and a career really depended on the support of others, especially their spouse. Posters who could count on someone else, whether spouse or their own parent, to assist in raising kids, generally were also able to maintain a successful career. Similarly, posters who were able to rely on nannies or other types of outsourcing also were able to manage successful careers. The DC area has a lot of federal employees, and federal workers also described being able to both raise kids and advance in their careers due to the family-friendly policies of their jobs. Among those whose careers were set back by having kids, most say that it was worth it and they don't have second thoughts about their choice. But, there were some who clearly have regrets about what they missed out on professionally. Taken as whole, the responses suggest that it is difficult, if not impossible, to "have it all". Trying to be both a full-time mom and a full-time employee will generally not work well and will likely result in being poor at both. So, compromises have to be made, but not all of those compromises are necessarily bad. With help, many posters have been able to pull off being a great mom and a great employee.

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