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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Mar 22, 2024 11:52 AM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included the murder of a Westfield High School student, a confrontation at school, surviving the COVID pandemic, and how trust fund beneficiaries view others.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Westfield HS-Student murdered" and posted in the "Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)" forum. The original poster provided a link to a Washington Post article about a shooting in Fairfax County in which a teenager was killed. The original poster says that individual was a student at Westfield High School. The original poster also says that her daughter who attends Westfield has told her that the school is "full of police". Because the shooter has not been caught and the original poster fears he may be in the school, she is concerned for her daughter's safety and asks if others would pick up their kids from school in such circumstances. Whenever an incident of this type is discussed, there are always posters who seem to be primarily concerned with protecting the reputation of the school and distancing it from the events as much as possible. B the fifth response in this thread a poster was already complaining that the title of the thread was inaccurate because the student was not killed at the school. The poster also reported the thread to me with the same complaint. I was confused because I did not understand the title to say that the student was killed at the school. But, I later figured out that the poster was interpreting the hyphen between "HS" and "Student" to be more like a colon and signifying that the event occurred at the school. At any rate, the discussion about the title continued throughout the thread. There was a second objection that the thread didn't even belong in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) forum but rather in the metro politics forum because it didn't involve the school. A poster went on to write, "the posters who start these threads usually want to encourage trash talk about the schools". Multiple posters claimed that I was keeping the "click bait" title in order to generate traffic and ad revenue. To be clear, I didn't change the title because I correctly understand the purpose of a hyphen. Overlooked by almost everyone was the fact that the original poster's main concern was whether she should pick up her daughter from school early due to safety concerns. There is no indication that she is interested in bashing the school that her daughter attends. It later turned out that the suspected shooter had indeed attended Westfield in the past but was not currently enrolled in any FCPS school. Therefore he was unlikely to be at the school and the original poster's daughter did not face at threat related to him. But then a discussion broke out about whether the suspect and the victim should have attended another high school instead of Westfield with many posts devoted to school boundaries. The primary message that many want you to get from this thread is that regardless of anything suggested by thread's title, this incident had nothing to do with Westfield and any attempt to argue otherwise is either a right-wing attack aimed at making the school look bad or an effort to generate ad revenue.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Tweens and Teens" forum and titled, "Before I overreact, am I right to be mad at the school?" The original poster explains that her son told another boy that a third boy "sucks at basketball". The second boy told the third boy this and the third boy confronted the original poster's son the next day at school. A teacher saw the confrontation and separated them before things escalated and sent them to the counselor. According to what the original poster has been told, her son was blamed for the incident and the boy who initiated the confrontation was not punished. She is very angry and wants to know if she is right to be angry with the school about how they are handling the incident. Most posters don't think the original poster is right to be angry at the school. Rather, those responding seem to believe that the confrontation was a natural consequence of having insulted the other student and, since a fight didn't actually break out, the other student doesn't deserve punishment. "Your kid was a jerk and found out. Unless the other kid actually touched your kid, seems everything was handled fine", was a response that was representative of many of the replies. Several posters warn that the original poster's son is not a trustworthy narrator and that his version of events should not necessarily be trusted. Since it doesn't appear that the original poster's son received any punishment other than a talking to, most of those responding don't think it's a big deal. Moreover, they point out that the school will not reveal any punishment, if any, the other boy received. Therefore the original poster can't be certain that the student didn't face consequences. This thread mostly consists of posters finding as many ways as possible to say that the original poster's son fooled around and then found out. But, since no actual violence took place, the original poster should move on. Or, as one poster put it, "It sounds like nothing actually happened. The only person you should be upset with is your son for being a jerk." A few posters argued that all three boys involved shared responsibility. The original poster's son for trash talking, the second boy for instigating drama by telling the third boy, and the third boy for starting a confrontation. In contrast, some posters did not only not blame the third boy, but praised him for standing up for himself and not engaging in violence, discounting the original poster's belief that violence would have occurred had the teacher not intervened.

Next was a thread titled, "How did we survive?" and posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. The original poster has been reflecting on the COVID pandemic and her experience during it. At the beginning of the pandemic, the original poster had a newborn, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old. Her husband, who works 60-80 hours a week was not used to working at home. Her postpartum depression spiraled out of control and she barely got any sleep. Looking back, the original poster is surprised that her family emerged from the pandemic unscathed. In addition, she describes feeling anger at those who were childless or had older children and for whom the pandemic was not traumatic and may have even been enjoyable. Clearly the original poster's circumstances were very difficult and it is not hard to understand why that would have been a very trying time. As one of those who had older kids, I am thankful not to have been in her shoes. But DCUM posters are often not overly encumbered with empathy. As a result, responses tend to challenge the original poster rather than sympathize with her. Some posters object to the suggestion that others were "living their best lives" as the original poster would have it. Rather, these posters point out, many had their own fears and challenges. Others argue that, as bad as the time was for the original poster, it does not rival the hardships that others have had to endure during periods of war or famine. As one poster put it, "Are you always this whiny? People have survived much much worse." Others argued that as the mother of a newborn and two other kids who was suffering from PPD, any time in history would have been difficult for the original poster. One of the most marked results of the pandemic from my viewpoint has been the narrow lenses through which so many view the period. Perhaps it was the result of the isolation that many went through, but people seem to be unable to look beyond the confines of their own experience. In the original poster's case, I can easily forgive this. I can't imagine how her experience was anything short of overwhelming. But many of the posters in this thread seem completely incapable of the slightest acknowledgement that the original poster faced a difficult time. Rather they are fixated on how difficult either they personally, or someone they knew, had it. Among the exceptions was a poster who wrote, "OP, you can be angry at me. You got hit by bad timing. We were lucky in that we were not" and then went on to repeat that her family had been lucky. Eventually this thread turned into an all out fight about COVID and the response to it, even including debate about the "lab leak" theory. As a result, I locked the thread.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Money and Finances" forum. Titled, "Does your social circle have a lot of family money/trust funds?", the original poster says that in the area in which she has lived for the past 10 years almost half of the residents are the beneficiaries of large trust funds. The other half are generally two-income families including "lawyers, doctors, software engineers, c-level, sales". The original poster feels the trust funders have it much better off and she wonders if those with trust funds look down on the "working class". Of course, describing lawyers, doctors, software engineers, and C-level executives as "working class" is among the most DCUMish things you can do and that rightly generates considerable pushback. There is far more discussion about who is or who is not working class than there is about trust funds. There are even fewer direct answers to the original poster's question. That is largely because few recipients of trust funds respond. Those that do are divided about how they view those without family money. Other posters who don't have trust funds describe how they view trust funders, which is the opposite of what the original poster was asking. Since she is not a trust fund beneficiary, she presumably already has her own views and is trying to learn the opposite perspective. Much of the thread consists of posters speculating about how they think those with trust funds view others or how they perceived the views of those they knew who had trust funds. There is also some discussion about how trust funds work. In addition, some posters discuss their own neighborhood and the likelihood of trust fund beneficiaries living there.

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