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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Mar 14, 2024 12:18 PM

Yesterday's topics with the most engagement included a warning to college applicants, a new view of Harry and Meghan, a student arrested with a gun at a MCPS high school, and fear of flying on Boeing aircraft.

The Kate photo thread once again led as the most active thread, racking up more than 10 times the number of posts as the next most active thread (nearly 11 times in fact). The next most active thread was titled, "a final warning to high school students in the college admissions game", and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster linked to a YouTube video by a current student at Princeton University who expresses strong disappointment with Princeton and warns high school students who are currently in the process of choosing colleges to avoid the university. He warns about a number of other top colleges as well. His main complaint is that rather than being a supportive environment, Princeton — at least according to him — is very cutthroat and, he believes, damaging to students' mental health. He advises applicants to ignore college rankings. He argues that instead, students should investigate the atmosphere of schools to ensure they choose a school with a supportive environment. Due to the video's name starting, like the title of this thread, with "a final warning" and the very depressed attitude of the narrator, I was a little concerned that this was a suicide message. But, hopefully that is not the case. Despite the serious nature of the video, I almost broke out laughing as I read the replies. Multiple posters blamed the student's distress on test optional admissions policies. Their theory being that he is an undeserving student who probably would have been filtered out by a low test score and is now discovering that he doesn't have the chops for Princeton. I don't know whether this demonstrates the posters' determination to protect Princeton from criticism or their one-track fixation on test optional policies. A number of posters wonder why the student simply hasn't transferred. Others just brush off his complaints with one poster even describing him and others like him as a "tik tok like ‘geniuses’" from whom she would never take advice. For the record, this video was on YouTube and the other social network is "TikTok". Other's suggest that while the student may be accurately portraying his own personal experience, he is wrong to extrapolate that experience broadly across Princeton, let alone other top universities. Some posters come to the students defense, though many of them tend toward offering explanations for his struggles rather than accepting that his description of student life at Princeton is valid. A few posters, however, do find the student's complaints to be believable. They point to a rash of suicides at Princeton and its relatively low freshmen retention rate as evidence that the environment might be overly stressful. The bottom line is that those posters who want their children to pursue top universities such as Princeton appear unlikely to heed this warning. Some others who either have ruled out the school or don't consider it to be a realistic option in the first place, find some solace in believing their children are better off elsewhere.

The next most active thread was posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum and titled, "s/o New understanding of Harry & Meghan". This is a spin-off of the Kate photo thread. Despite the length and craziness of the Kate thread, I haven't had to moderate it all that much. All things considered, that is surprising. But the exception has been off-topic posts about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, otherwise known as Harry and Meghan. There is probably no individual more polarizing on DCUM than Meghan Markle. She has a dedicated group of defenders and an equally-dedicated group of detractors. Things are so bad that I almost automatically lock or delete threads about the Sussexes. In the Kate thread, there was an attempt to blame Meghan for creating the controversy. But, this thread was started with a somewhat different intention. The original poster says that the controversy surrounding Kate has made her see Harry and Meghan in a different light. While she previously felt negatively about them, she now suspects that many of their complaints may have been valid and that her perception had been influenced by public relations efforts of the Palace. For the most part, posters seem to stick with their previously held positions. Those that liked the Sussexes still like them. Those who didn't, still don't. However a few posters seem to have grudgingly softened their dislike of Harry and Meghan. Now they are willing to see fault on both sides. However, the idea that Meghan is somehow pulling strings from behind the scenes to manipulate public opinion against the Royal Family in general and William and Kate in particular is still held by some posters. She writes, "The viciousness of the online rumors specifically against William and Kate skyrocketed after Harry met his wife, who ran an internet site for a while." Another poster wrote, "I actually think much of the vicious rumormongering and gossip about William and Kate are because of Harry and Meghan." On the other hand, posters who support Harry and Meghan think that their actions have likely made things easier for Kate. As one poster explains:

I think if H&M hadn't left and exposed all, people would actually believe Kate edited the photo herself and wrote the apology herself. Now that we know the Firm throws its non-heirs to the press to distract from the heirs, Kate will have an easier time if they try to smear her.

Between this thread and the Kate thread, there have been some outlandish theories such as believing the entire controversy is the work of Russian trolls. But, the best theory ever was posted in this thread by a poster who claimed that most of the conspiracy theories are being posted by bored Swifties (Taylor Swift fans).

The next most active thread was titled, "Student apprehended with loaded gun at Gaithersburg High" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum. This thread was actually started two days ago. The original poster linked to and excerpted an article from reporting that an 18-year-old student had been arrested in possession of a loaded handgun at Gaithersburg High School. The original poster asks how many such incidences need to happen before the Board of Education will implement additional security measures. One of the more controversial topics in the Montgomery County Public Schools forum involves School Resources Officers, or SROs, who are police officers assigned to schools. SROs were removed from MCPS schools and replaced by Community Engagement Officer. CEOs are also police officers, but they sit in an office in a school rather than walking the halls. In this incident, CEOs were called and were present when the school's own security team discovered the gun. The CEOs then made the arrest. Whenever a security incident involving MCPS is discussed on DCUM, posters immediately start arguing for the return of SROs. That was immediately the case in this thread with posters supporting SROs, but also additional security measures. Some posters argued in favor of the same type of security measures present at airports and government buildings. Other posters were concerned that introducing metal detectors and armed police would create a prison-like atmosphere within the schools. Some posters argued that in this instance the CEO program had worked perfectly and showed that SROs are not needed. Several posters see the gun solution as going beyond schools and believe the solution is wider gun control rather than fortifying schools. They think that fewer guns everywhere, including schools, is the answer. These posters also argued that SROs didn't help in either Parkland or Uvalde where mass shootings at schools occurred while SROs were present. Another common development in threads such as this are complaints about discipline within schools in general. By all accounts, discipline has gotten exponentially worse since the pandemic and teachers are at their wits' end. Teachers don't feel supported by either the administration or parents and, in many cases, view SROs as almost a lifeline. Other posters don't really care whether there are SROs or CEOs and also agree that in either case they should not be involved in day to day student discipline. But there are also fears, like those among teachers, that MCPS administrators are not adequately providing discipline. Therefore, among some posters there is resignation that while SROs might not be the preferred solution, they are the best available. Eventually this thread turned into a simple debate over whether SROs are necessary or whether SROs are useless with few posters finding room for compromise.

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Travel Discussion" forum. Titled, "Do you trust Boeing with your life?", the original poster writes that Boeing "has been driven into the ground for cost cutting purposes" and asks if these are "the risks consumers should be forced to swallow so Boeing can maximize profits". Many posters share the original poster's concerns and are no longer willing to trust Boeing aircraft. Several posters say that they actively avoid flying on such planes. Others are a bit more discriminatory, avoiding the newer aircraft such as the 737 MAX and the 787 Dreamliner that have had problems while still being willing to fly on older 757s and such. A number of posters insist that regardless of the aircraft involved, flying is significantly safer than other modes of travel. They argue that the drive to the airport is more dangerous than the flight. In response to this, a number of posters explain their own risk management strategy. They have to drive at times, but they can lower their risk by taking certain precautions such as not driving drunk. When they have to fly, they believe that they can lower their risk by avoiding Boeing aircraft. Not only have a number of recent security incidences with Boeing planes raised fears among some travellers, but revelations by a Boeing whistleblower have increased concerns. The recent alleged suicide of that individual fed conspiracy theories as well as additional concerns. Moreover, a recent documentary available on Netflix has caused considerable doubt about the safety of Boeing aircraft. Some posters, convinced by those who refuse to fly on Boeing airplanes, asked how they can identify the type of aircraft when booking a flight in order to avoid Boeings. Almost immediately this thread was hijacked by a poster who announced that he is avoiding United Airlines because of the company's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. The poster is convinced that this will result in unqualified minorities flying and servicing the aircraft and, therefore, make them less safe. This poster has no evidence to support his contentions and is met by significant pushback by other posters. However, a number of posters agree with the anti-DEI poster and there is considerable back-and-forth on this topic. The basic disagreement is over whether an attempt to be more inclusive of minorities automatically means that standards will be lowered and less qualified individuals will be hired. The anti-DEI posters are convinced that this will always be the case. Posters supportive of DEI deny that this is true. Moreover, they argue that DEI or not, most people being hired by the airlines are White. The already off-topic DEI discussion got further off-topic when posters started talking about how DEI has impacted their own companies and college admissions. The irony of all of this discussion is that I am fairly certain that it was not DEI hires that caused Boeing to be in the situation in which it finds itself. If the Boeing leadership is what is considered "qualified", I'd be willing to take the risk of having a few "unqualified" minorities at the helm.

DC Reader says:
Mar 14, 2024 03:07 PM
I don't have an issue with your trying to give a flavor of the posts on the lugubrious "Final Warning" thread but, objectively, any suggestion that Princeton has a "relatively low freshmen retention rate" is simply misleading. It was subsequently pointed out by several posters that some students took a voluntary leave of absence during a Covid, precisely so that they could return when the school re-opened post-Covid and enjoy four years on campus. That's not equivalent to a "low retention rate," as that term commonly is understood and, in general, the four and six-year graduation rates are relatively high, not relatively low.
Jeff Steele says:
Mar 14, 2024 05:24 PM
Thanks for the clarification. I personally think that if you are admitted to arguably one of the top three universities in America, you should not be surprised that it is rigorous and cutthroat. That's probably what it takes to get there in the first place.
NYC reader says:
Mar 14, 2024 05:08 PM
I am curious how the Kate thread compares in views to the overall site- wondering if page views make up a quarter, half of all views? Only due to my own ridiculous curiosity. I hope the popularity of the thread helps with the ad revenue and keeps DCUM alive!
Jeff Steele says:
Mar 14, 2024 05:22 PM
It is hard to make the sort of calculations that you are suggesting but the Kate thread, while significant in terms of views and posts, is not near a quarter or any large percentage. DCUM is quite large these days, over 800,000 unique users per month. So it takes a lot of views to give much of a bump. It is giving us a small boost in traffic, but it is not really discernable. Traffic yesterday was almost exactly the same as Wednesday a week ago. We are seeing a small increase in revenue, but revenue has been great all year. We were also getting a lot of traffic due to private school admissions, the TikTok video, and other things. The Kate thread is just sort of the cream on top.
Nyc reader says:
Mar 14, 2024 05:49 PM
Long live DCUM! May it outlast the monarchy. Thanks Jeff
Anonymous says:
Mar 16, 2024 06:32 PM
"over 800,000 unique users per month" Wow! I had no idea.
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