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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Mar 12, 2024 11:55 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included whether or not to tell a friend about her husband's affair, universities that are better than the "lower Ivys", little things that can improve a vacation, and Bethany Mandel's campaign for the MCPS school board.

Yesterday's most active thread was obviously the thread about the Princess of Wales's photo, receiving nearly 1,400 new posts. I covered that thread yesterday and, therefore, will go on to the next most active thread. That one was titled, "Can’t face friends" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that her husband accidentally revealed that his longtime best friend has been having an affair with a college classmate for the last eight years. The original poster, her husband, and their children regularly socialize together with the other family and she is friends with the friend's wife. Knowing this information has made the original poster so uncomfortable about being around the other family that she canceled a planned get together this weekend. She believes that the friend's wife deserves to know about the affair but her husband is loyal to his friend. She asks what others would do. As could be expected, responses are all over the map. Several posters urge the original poster to simply forget what her husband told her and do whatever it takes to let it go. These posters argued that nothing good would come out of telling the friend's wife about his affair. Others argued that the wife deserves to know. They are concerned that if the wife learns of the affair and finds out that the original poster knew about it, she might blame the original poster. Another angle was to focus anger on the original poster's husband who has been hiding this secret and allowing his family to grow close to the other family despite knowing that things could blow up anytime. Some suggested that the original poster's husband should have a discussion with his friend, either to convince him to stop the affair or to let him know that the original poster now knows and is struggling with the information. Basically, put the ball into the friend's court. There was disagreement about how the friend's wife might react to being told about the affair. Many posters thought that she might already know or prefer not to know. They saw many scenarios in which revealing the affair could hurt the original poster's relationship with the woman. However, a poster who herself had been in the friend's wife situation says that she is very grateful to the friend who revealed her husband's affair. The poster says that friend was the only one who put the poster's interests first. In a follow-up post, the original poster says that she has settled on the "put the ball in the friend's court" strategy. She agrees with others that she and her husband need to be on the same page in order to protect their own relationship. The original poster is also compelled to end her friendship with both her husband's friend and the friend's wife. In the first case because she abhors what the friend is doing and in the second because she doesn't want to face the wife while keeping a secret from her.

Next was a thread posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. Titled, "What schools are better than the lower Ivies?", the entire text of the first post is "Aside from Stanford, MIT, Duke, Caltech, which schools do you consider better than the ‘lower ivies’ (Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell)?" The problem with threads of this sort are two-fold. First, there are entirely too many of them. Or, as one poster put it, "When will these insipid threads end?" Second, as many posters point out, "better" depends on several other factors. One of those is what is being studied. "If you want to major in English, I'm confident that Brown is better than Caltech", a poster writes. Another factor is what you prioritize about a school. As a poster notes, "Lower Ivy varies quite a bit by sport but I'd take a full-ride from plenty of places over any Ivy League school in most sports." As such, much of what goes into addressing a topic such as this is subjective. As with any subjective issue, people disagree. Therefore, much of the thread is devoted to debating opinions. One poster would extol the virtues of a school only to have the next poster question their intelligence, insult their heritage, and state unequivocally that they had no idea about what they were talking. A reply that reflected this tone was, "You are now wildly unhinged and don’t even understand the context of the thread." In many cases, posters just suggested their favorite school. I assumed from the beginning that someone would mention Northeastern and the University of Virginia because those schools have devoted fan clubs on DCUM. Unless I missed it, I was wrong about Northeastern and it didn't get mentioned. The University of Virginia was only brought up once. The school that dominates much of this thread is Carnegie Mellon University. According to one poster, it is better than the "lower Ivys" for "engineering, cs, drama and undergrad business". Other posters especially took issue with the claim about drama, leading to a full-fledged and drawn out contretemps. But, given the defense of the program put up by the CMU booster, it is apparent that you insult the CMU drama program at your own peril. In response to one CMU drama program skeptic, the poster responded, "It takes a severe level of cognitive dissonance to be presented with empirical evidence of a fact and claim that it somehow shows the opposite." At least one CMU graduate has apparently mastered drama.

The next most active thread was titled, "little things that make your vacation better?" and posted in the "Travel Discussion" forum. The original poster basically repeated the title in the body of her post, asking what little things others remember to include in order to make their vacations more enjoyable. As I have written many times, I don't like summarizing threads that are mostly just lists of things. This thread is that type. The first poster to respond lists "Plug in night lights. Sound machine or app." One of the early posts described friends who don't have data plans for their phones and, instead, rely on wifi. The poster says that such folks have occasionally called her asking for directions because they are lost and can't connect to wifi. For some reason, this post spurred significant discussion through the rest of the thread. But, I guess the poster's response to the original poster's query would be "a data plan". Phones were a point of contention, especially where international travel is concerned. There was a somewhat heated disagreement about the cost of Verizon's international plan. One poster brings her own slippers and another brings her dogs. Many of the suggestions were for travel tips rather than things to bring. One poster says she checks into hotels the day before so that she can go straight to her room. Another books a spa appointment at hotels that don't allow early checkout. She can rest in the spa and sometimes that leads to getting a room earlier. Another tip, apparently for iPhone users, was to pre-populate the calendar app with scheduled events because Apple Maps will automatically provide directions, saving time by not having to look up directions otherwise. Another tip that was shared by multiple posters was to rent accommodations that have a washer and dryer. That allows travellers to pack less and then wash their clothes instead. Another tip that came up more than once was either preordering groceries or having them delivered. Or doing both, preordering groceries for delivery. One poster researches restaurants ahead of time and makes reservations in advance. She says that takes the stress out of finding a place to eat. Those interested in improving their travel experience could probably find a good idea or two in this thread.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. Titled, "Bethany Mandel BOE candidate ‘befriending Neo Nazi's’", I have mixed feelings about this thread. Bethany Mandel is a conservative writer who has been outspoken on issues regarding public education. She is most famous for going on TV and criticizing people for being "woke" but then not being able to define "woke" when asked to do so. Despite homeschooling her own children, she has become a candidate for the Montgomery County Schools Board of Education. While she is a staunch conservative and the school board race is nonpartisan, Mandel is a registered Democrat and, in deep blue Montgomery County, has advertised her party registration which is a bit misleading. There are lots of reasons that someone with my political leanings would oppose Mandel. However, I have mixed feelings about this thread due to the way the original poster went about it. He starts off by calling Mandel an "idiot" and finishes by referring to her as a "POS" (a piece of fecal matter). He then made an issue of the fact that she is proudly and outspokenly Jewish but argues in favor of befriending neo-Nazis. He lists a number of criticisms of Mandel that have nothing to do with schools. The style and tone of the post is over the top. The original poster even accused Mandel of killing her own mother. The problem with posts such as this is that they can easily backfire. When a post brings the sanity of the poster into question, as this one does, it significantly takes away from the message. Indeed, this is reflected in one of the responses which says, "lol - all this post made me do is laugh. op seems unhinged." But, for as much criticism I have of the original poster, many of those responding are almost as bad. A handful of posters responded repeatedly, none of them noting that they were a previous poster. This is always a danger of DCUM's anonymous posting, but I think that it distorts the discussion in this thread more than normal. The most surprising thing to me is how uninformed about Mandel most of the posters appear to be. Still, as liberal Montgomery County residents, they should be easy converts to the original poster's point of view. Sadly, he alienates more posters than he persuades. Some posters make attempts to help him save himself from himself, but with little success. Whether it is because of the original poster or simply due to the posters themselves, a number of responders actually are supportive of many of Mandel's views. I suspect that this thread may be gaining more votes for Mandel than it prevents.

Anon says:
Mar 12, 2024 09:21 PM
Do you want us to mention whenever we are PP?

I usually don't mention it unless I'm engaged in a discussion and want to clarify which poster I am
Jeff Steele says:
Mar 12, 2024 09:28 PM
I think that it is helpful to mention that you are a previous poster. You don't have to go so far as to identify the timestamp of your previous post. In the Mandel thread, it sort of looked like many posters making a similar point when really it was just one.
Anon says:
Mar 14, 2024 02:59 PM
Are you suggesting that Bethany's friends posted repeatedly to try and make it seem like she's got some traction? Really? Bethany sending her flunkies to DCUM to defend her? Why I never! ;)
Jeff Steele says:
Mar 14, 2024 05:28 PM
There were at least three posters making a large number of posts. I intentionally didn't characterize the partisan leaning of their posts. Two were actually pretty hard to nail down because they were sort of wishy washy but mildly supportive of Mandel. The third was much more obvious about supporting Mandel. Of course the OP repeatedly posted in opposition to Mandel, but his posts were obvious from the spittle flying everywhere.
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