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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 20, 2024 11:38 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included rejecting Joe Biden, colleges checking parent's LinkedIn, a surprise email from a federal supervisor, and Beyoncé's foray into Country music.

The most active thread yesterday was the Gaza war thread that has held this position frequently. But, since I have discussed that thread already, I'll move to the next most active. That one was not altogether unrelated. Titled, "I tipped over the line this week and can’t support Biden", and posted in the "Political Discussion" forum, the original poster says that she has finally reached the point where she can no longer vote for President Joe Biden. She says that she cannot vote for a candidate who supports genocide and emphasizes that she is a 50-something Christian with no direct connection to the Gaza conflict. She agrees that former President Donald Trump is worse, but says that is not enough and she will sit this election out. I am not sure that Biden and his campaign staff are aware of how widespread this sentiment is among otherwise faithful Democratic voters. Many are aware that this position is widespread among Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as young voters who are allegedly influenced by TikTok, but it is increasingly common among those such as the original poster who don't fit those categories. This is a real danger to Biden's reelection which was already in trouble without this added risk. The responses to the original poster are basically the same as those we see on the national political scene. The the most frequent response, that Trump is worse, is obviously true, but has already been considered and rejected by the original poster. Others try to argue technicalities such as disputing that Israel's actions in Gaza amount to genocide or that Biden doesn't actually support the most extreme measures. Arguments about what is or is not genocide matter little to those such as the original poster and arguing that the killing of nearly 30 thousand people, most of whom are civilians, is not genocide is not convincing. Almost weekly the Biden administration publicizes its concerns about Israel's actions, but immediately follows those up with approvals of more arms transfers. Actions matter more than words, regardless of the number of leaks about Biden's private irritation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Another reaction is a lot of foot stomping and bullying by Biden supporters. But this is likely to backfire and simply make things worse. Name-calling, ridicule, and attempted intimidation are not particularly successful methods of persuasion. The United Nations Security Council is currently considering a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire. The Biden administration has already promised to veto the measure. This action will be interpreted by the original poster and others as support for Israel's continued devastation of Gaza and only make Biden's problems with such voters worse. Perhaps demonstrating some understanding of the electoral threat, Biden is reportedly considering a substitute resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire. But Biden's ability to dig himself out of this hole with half-measures is doubtful.

Next was a thread posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "Admissions Officers Checking Out Parent LinkedIn", the original poster says that two selective universities have looked at her and her husband's LinkedIn accounts. She wants to know what that means. While this poster would later deny being a troll, she did sock puppet a few responses towards the beginning of the thread. Normally that would be enough for me to suspect this entire thread of being a troll attempt, but other posters also said that universities had checked their LinkedIn accounts. Posters suspected that these were attempts to assess the parent's financial situation in order to determine whether they would be full pay or not. But, since universities have access to financial aid information, I doubt that they need to use LinkedIn for that data. Other posters suggested that they were more interested in the prestige of the parents. Despite the number of posters claiming that their accounts were visited, many posters argued that this simply wasn't happening and that admissions officers didn't have time to hunt down the social media accounts of applicants' parents. While this thread was fairly long, the responses were repetitive so they didn't boil down to much. Perhaps a few posters were sent scurrying to brush up their social media profiles, but most doubted their social media accounts could have much impact either way. One thing that was noticeably missing from the thread were the names of any universities that had been alleged to have checked LinkedIn accounts. The original poster wouldn't name the two schools she said had checked hers, though she did later ask posters to name the schools that checked their accounts. None of the other posters would name universities either. Several posters said that their accounts had been checked and their kids were later admitted to the schools. However, they have no way of knowing whether their LinkedIn accounts played any role.

The next most active thread was titled, "Surprise email from Supervisor" and posted in the "Jobs and Careers" forum. The original poster describes herself as a new federal worker. She apparently has a hybrid schedule with some days in the office and some days work from home. She says that a few weeks ago she notified her superviser that she would not be able to come into the office on one of her normal days and suggested an alternative day. She did not receive a response until now. She was asked to stick to her approved schedule and to spend a minimum of eight hours in the office. In addition, her supervisor cc'd his own supervisor on the email. The original poster is confused about this interaction because she is interpreting his response as possibly being a disciplinary measure. She asks what she should do. Those responding list a couple of concerns about this scenario. First, several posters argue that the original poster should have asked permission to change her day in the office rather than simply informing her superviser. Second, the mention of working a minimum of eight hours suggests that someone may think she has not been putting in enough hours at work. One poster worried that the supervisor is trying to develop a paper trail and that the original poster may be in some sort of trouble. With regard to the point about working eight hours, the original poster says that she does work a full eight hours but that she moves to another location within the office for part of the time because her neighbor creates too much noise and interfers with the original poster's phone calls. Posters then deduce that there are two separate issues. One, that the original poster may not be allowed to arbitrarily notify her supervisor that she is changing a day that she is supposed to be in the office and, two, that leaving her workstation might be causing others to think that she is not working as much as she is supposed to. Several posters suggest that the original poster immediately email her superviser explaining that she does work eight hour days but some of that is spent at another location within the office, documenting exactly where that location is. The in-person day change turned out to be because of parking, which is not remotely considered a good excuse by most of those responding. One poster suggested that the original poster ask to work all days in the office, arrive a half hour early and leave a half hour late. This would give her more time to meet key players, demonstrate her work ethic, and, hopefully, resolve the parking issues by arriving before the lot is full. It later turned out that the parking issue is more complicated than it first appeared, but too complicated for me to explain. At any rate, the original poster acknowledged and expressed appreciation for the good advice that she received.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum and titled, "Beyoncé Country Album". The original poster says that she just learned that Beyoncé recently released two new songs that are Country instead of her traditional style. The original poster is not a Country music fan but wonders how common it is for an artist to cross musical genres in this manner. Discussion in this thread addresses a number of separate but related themes. One is Beyoncé's motive. Some suggest that this is an attempt to revive a flagging career, a suggestion at which several other posters scoff. This provokes a debate about Beyoncé's popularity. Others argue that Beyoncé is from Texas and that Country music owes much of its existence to Black musicians. In this regard, these posters content, Beyoncé is simply reflecting her personal and racial heritage. But other posters argued that Beyoncé's foray into Country music is the work of her husband, Jay-Z. In fact, much of this thread is about Jay-Z who appears to be considerably more divisive then Beyoncé herself. Jay-Z is portrayed as a behind-the-curtain puppet master manipulating Beyoncé's career with goals nobody but he can understand. Some posters see the Country songs as evidence of Beyoncé' completing with Taylor Swift and trying to move into Swift's original genre. But this suggestion is disputed by posters who say that Swift and Beyoncé, far from being competitors, share mutual respect for each other. As for the two songs themselves, as could be expected they have both fans and detractors. Some posters like the songs, some don't. Some posters think Beyoncé can legitimately perform Country songs, some don't. But, opinions about the music are nearly lost in the deluge of posts about race, gender, history, and Jay-Z.

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