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Thursday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Mar 15, 2024 11:39 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included boys volleyball in FCPS, Meghan Markles' new lifestyle brand, "working poor" at $100k per year, and being mistaken for a race, nationality, religion, etc. that you are not.

The top three most active threads yesterday were all ones that I've previously discussed (Kate photo, soccer club merger, over-scheduled kids). Therefore, I am starting with what was actually the fourth most active thread yesterday. Titled, "What season is boys volleyball?" and posted in the "Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)" forum, this is not the sort of topic that you would expect to see as the first thread that I discuss in one of these posts. The original poster simply is curious about whether boys volleyball will conflict with her son's primary sport. You might think that this is a fairly simple question — I certainly did — but then you, like me, would be wrong. The answer is that boys volleyball is a Fall sport in Fairfax County Public Schools. What complicates things is that this is a new sport that will be introduced in the next school year. Therefore, the thread begins with a discussion about whether boys volleyball even exists within the school system. Once it is established that the sport has been approved, there is a dispute about whether there is interest in the sport. Many see volleyball as a girls' sport and claim that they don't know a single boy who plays the sport. Other posters point out that there is an active and popular recreation league that is proof of strong interest in volleyball among local boys. In addition, a number of posters point out that boys volleyball is popular in other parts of the country. Federal regulations require that boys and girls have an equal number of sports, so another point of discussion involved which sport would be introduced for girls. That turns out to be girls wrestling, which was equally, if not even more, controversial. Once again, posters claimed that they didn't know any girls interested in wrestling. However, another poster wrote that several girls wrestled at the high school her kids attend. In addition to the expected lack of interest in the sports, the other reason many posters were upset about the new sports was the concern that the sports might complete for space in gyms. Several posters argued that the limited gym space at their schools was already booked up and that there wouldn't be room for two more sports. Another objection was financial. Apparently, the cost of the two new sports was included in a budget which also asked for a 10% increase in funding from the County. One poster wrote, "It’s an irresponsible idea that came out of a small group of boys volleyball players and their parents badgering [the schools superintendent]". This poster expected that the sports would be cut before the final budget is approved.

Next was a thread posted in the "Entertainment and Pop Culture" forum. Titled, "American Riviera Orchard and Meghan Markle", the original poster provides links revealing that Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is launching a lifestyle brand named "American Riviera Orchard" and has established a website and Instagram page to support the venture. The original poster says that while she generally likes Markle, she finds this idea "cheesy and not well thought out". In yesterday's blog post I discussed another Meghan thread and noted that, due to the vitriol she provokes, I normally delete or lock threads about her. I left this one alone based on the obviously naive idea that it might stay focused on her new brand rather than degenerating into the typical debate about Meghan personally. I, of course, was born yesterday. With a considerable use of the "delete" key, the thread is mostly on topic, but I don't know how long I will be willing to put this much effort into keeping the thread that way. So, don't be surprised if it is locked soon. "American Riviera Orchard" apparently reflects the Sussexes new home in Montecito, California. According to People magazine, "the brand plans to sell tableware, drinkware including decanters, kitchen linens and edible treats such as jellies, jams, marmalade and spreads." Cookbooks will be another item. In general, those responding are not thrilled with the name, with many posters considering it clunky or convoluted. There is some agreement that Meghan could legitimately pull off a lifestyle brand and several posters praise her past involvement with Tig (something about which I know nothing). But, of course, there are the naysayers such a poster who wrote, "Of all things, what we really need is another luxury lifestyle brand?" That poster and others wished that Harry and Meghan would stay focused on service and charity. But other posters didn't see a conflict between a lifestyle brand and philanthropy. They argued that the couple needs an income stream to finance their charitable work. However, even those supportive of the venture contended that how it is executed is important. For instance, would the goods being sold meet the ethical standards the Sussexes' image requires? One supporter declared, "If it's a bunch of overpriced garbage stamped with ‘Made in Thailand,’ I reserve the right to change my mind." Many posters objected to the contradiction between Harry and Meghan's highly-publicized distancing from the British Royal Family and their utilization of their Duke and Duchess titles. Moreover, the branding for American Riviera Orchard refers to "Meghan, Duchess of Sussex" which many posters find annoying or worse.

The next most active thread was titled, "Income 100k for 35 year old is working poor" and posted in the "Money and Finances" forum. Almost from the first day of DCUM's launch, there has been controversy about salaries and income. The concept of "DCUM Middle Class" is a long-running joke. DCUM users tend to be blessed with high salaries and income but blissfully out of touch with other Americans. Hence, the not infrequent threads by posters earning close to half a million dollars annually who complain about not being able to make ends meet. This thread is not quite to that extreme. The original poster says that is earning $100,000 at age 35. He details his monthly income and expenditures, showing that he is able to save about $300 per month. He argues that he is "working poor" and cannot afford to start a family. Those responding immediately noted that the original poster's monthly credit card bill and rent appeared to be high. One of the items included in his credit card bill was "Doordash" which provoked a bit of tut-tutting. Posters scoffed at the idea that the original poster is poor, working or otherwise. As one noted, "People who make 1/3 what you make are working poor". Posters offered a number of recommendations for reducing his expenditures. Several posters noted that he has both a high rent and costs for a car. They suggested that he should either pay enough rent to live near a Metro or other mass transportation option or move further out to get a cheaper rent. Others suggested getting a roommate so that rent could be shared. Several posters also questioned the original poster's plans for starting a family. They said that since a family would normally require a partner, he might be able to count on a second income as well. Probably the most common suggestion was to establish a budget and several posters recommended apps for tracking expenditures. They believed that this might make it easier to determine what might be cut. A few other posters weighed in on the side of the original poster. While they didn't defend his description of himself as "working poor", they did offer context for his expenditures and agreed that a "normal" lifestyle is expensive. This contention was disputed by posters who argued that many individuals can't distinguish between "wants" and "needs". The biggest division between posters in the thread was based on philosophy. One group was focused on how much could be spent responsibly with a goal of establishing some savings. The other group was focused on investing. They wanted to spend as little as possible and, rather than putting money into a savings account, invest it. To paraphrase one poster, don't save, invest. That poster also laid out a detailed budget for the original poster that would allow him have $2400 left over each month. But, that budget didn't go over well with the spenders. As one said, "Your life sounds pretty miserable."

The final thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Off-Topic" forum. Titled, "If someone guesses your nationality or race wrong do you get offended?", the original poster says that while she does not think that she looks like a member of a different race, people often mistaken her for one. Most of those who respond would not be offended. However, there is a distinction between someone simply guessing or asking and those who make further assumptions. For instance, asking if someone is a member of a group is generally seen as harmless and, in many cases, enjoyed. But constantly assuming that every Asian-looking person is Chinese or making assumptions about languages that a person should be able to speak can easily become irritating. What really seems to bother some posters is when someone guesses, is told they are wrong, and rather than simply accepting their mistake, doubles down and insists that the person does indeed look like whatever they guessed. This is also often a case of how frequently it happens. Those who encounter this quite often are, understandably, more bothered by it. A number of posters say that their appearance and/or names make identifying their heritage difficult and they enjoy the confusion that it provokes. One poster wrote a post that I could have written. She said that from a very young age she was interested in other's religion, heritage, country of origin, etc., and, as a result, tended to ask questions about it. I share that characteristic and, like her, I am sure that I have offended my share of people who didn't want to be asked such questions. Also, like that poster, I have learned to be a bit more careful about doing so. Now I am married to a women who is constantly asked about her heritage because almost nobody can figure it out. Luckily, she generally isn't bothered by the questions and enjoys being asked. Most of this thread consists of posters telling stories about how their ethnicity is often mistaken, frequently with descriptions of specific encounters. Few of the posters seem to be very upset by such instances.

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