Monthly Archives: December 2008

Social Networking for Tots

If I were any more disgusted with modern parenting my head would explode.  I just about screamed so loudly that they could hear me in Dallas, where the Dallas Morning News published a piece with the headline:  “Social Networking Sites Cater to Moms and Babies.”  What?  What?  What?  Internet social networking for babies?  What the heck does that even mean?

I’ll tell you what it means: it’s another self-centered, insensitive, lazy, neglectful way for most mothers to pretend they actually care about their children and are making the sacrifices and efforts to give kids what the kids NEED.

Here’s a great comment from the article: “The messages, of course, are from parents, usually moms, who say sites such as TotSpot provide them with TIME-SAVING ALTERNATIVES to PLAY DATES and FACE-TO-FACE RELATIONSHIPS…”  [Note:  The capitalization is mine].

So let me understand this…these so-called mothers spend time on the computer posting pictures and descriptions of their kids to virtual strangers (which we now call virtual “friends”) and get texted back with the saying, “You’ve been tickled,” and they assume that this in any way serves any need for any baby or toddler?

Other equally ridiculous mothers (and all these women actually gave their real names…is there no shame?) are quoted as saying that they don’t have time (what happened to MAKING time) for actual play dates…this way they can connect with moms and kids without leaving the house or the office.

Since when were play-dates only about the moms?  I always thought play-dates were about introducing children – FACE TO FACE – to other children, adults, environments, pets, experiences, and so forth.  I didn’t realize play-dates were just “jabber jabber” time for busy busy women who seem to wish to live in a virtual world rather than the concrete one their children will have to deal with eventually.  These are probably the kind of women who get crazed when their husbands choose to do the same with naked women on the internet.

Aside from the oh so obvious problems with parents putting information about children on the internet (a pedophile’s play land), it directs children (from the time they’re infants and toddlers) toward a life on the computer instead of in the park, the back yard, the street, a friend’s home, etc.

Many of the parents spoke about being “proud” of their babies and wanted to show them off and have them – even before they can burp on their own – have their very own social web page.  This is so utterly pathetic.

This is all about three things:
1. FEELING, versus  BEING connected.
2. FAKING being a parent who nurtures, protects, teaches, and loves by a web page    
3. SHOWING off your child and text-gossiping

Let me go back to that one most damning statement in the Dallas Morning News piece: “The messages, of course, are from parents, usually moms, who say sites such as TotSpot provide them with time-saving alternatives to play dates and face-to-face relationships, while helping them connect with parents and children in nontraditional ways.”

We’ve come a long way, baby…we’ve become women…mothers…who are too busy to introduce our kids to life.  Great.

Law & Order and Mumbai Terrorists

I am a woman of certain habits. I like the same breakfast everyday (raisin bran with blueberries and skim milk and one fried egg inside a toasted English muffin….for those of you who are curious), and I love to have my before-radio-show lunch while watching re-runs of Law & Order on television.

Yesterday, they played an episode which was timely, considering the recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India targeting innocents in general and citizens of Britain and America and Jews in particular – the latter who were tortured before being murdered in cold blood.  Over 200 persons were murdered; about 400 injured.  Nine of these Muslim terrorists were killed by Indian commandos.  One has been captured and has given information about this highly organized conspiracy and its training roots in Pakistan. 

For my purposes here…one ray of sunlight:  All of the Muslim cemeteries have refused, according to a Wall Street Journal  account, to bury these nine Muslim terrorists.  How about that!

Now back to the parallel with yesterday’s Law & Order re-run.  A Muslim- American is found dead…beheaded.  It is all set-up to look like bigoted Americans killed him just because he is Muslim.  It turns out, after a lot of posturing about prejudice against Muslims, that this man was killed by his own cousin: a bona fide terrorist trying to bring uranium into the U.S. to deploy in Manhattan to kill as many Americans as possible.  The beheaded man was informing on his cousin and all of those in the neighborhood conspiracy.  That’s why his own people killed him.

The Imam, the local religious leader, is lying to the police to protect the murderous cousin because they threatened to kill him if he didn’t.  The Imam is measuring his importance to the community against his responsibilities to the laws of America — laws of decency and morality, really.

In a touching interaction between the Imam and the District Attorney, the DA asks the Imam if he is a Muslim first or an American first.  The Imam struggles with that, saying that he has been working very hard to keep young people in his mosque from getting recruited into terrorism and he would lose that.  The DA points out that the dead man’s wife lost everything.  It is left there.

In court, the black defense attorney, playing into the “race card” questions the Imam about his client’s whereabouts during the murder.  At first the Imam lies. Then he tells the entire truth: about the uranium, the murder, and the plot to decimate all of New York City.  The murderer is convicted, but the Imam’s mosque is burned to the ground — retribution from some in his community.

There is a last minute angry exchange in Arabic as the murderer is removed from the court.  The DA asks the Imam what they both said.  The murderer said, “Burn!”  To that, the Imam had replied, “I love America.”

To that “fictional” Imam and to those who run the Muslim cemeteries in India refusing to accept the bodies of mass murders my admiration, my respect, my appreciation, my prayers, and my hope that more will join you to “out” or “reject” those who perpetrate evil.

Is Disney Corrupting Kids?

“Disney Accused by Catholic Cleric of Corrupting Children’s Minds,” was headline from The UK Telegraph that obviously caught my eye and curiosity.  I grew up with all the Disney cartoon movies…and save for Snow White shacking up with a lot of dwarfs with funny names – but no funny business – I can’t think of anything corrupting about that Disney era.

In fact, moral stories were always at the center: good guys and gals were ultimately saved and rewarded; and bad guys got their comeuppance in spades. What possible problem could Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, England have with Disney?

He argues that the Disney Corporation pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture which is in danger of losing its soul because of growing consumerism and the decline of religion. 

Whoooo.  He’s got something there.  These movies are wolves in grandma’s clothing?  They present a dichotomy of good and bad and then market the heck out of it and make oodles of money seducing kids into buying all kinds of junk in the image of the cute – or nasty – images on the screen.

Father Jamison targets the behavior of Disney in particular, which he says is “a classic example” of how consumerism is being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality.  While he acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil (i.e., moral battles) he argues that this is part of a ploy to persuade people that they should buy Disney products in order to be a good and happy family and make them greedy for the merchandise that goes with them.

While Father Jamison makes an obviously good point…it is a matter of the free market.  I don’t begrudge Disney trying to make a buck selling stuffed animals and t-shirts based upon their story characters.  I do begrudge the weakness of parents saying, “Yes, dear,” each time their child yells and demands something.  How ’bout instead of giving in so readily, you tell them to save up their money from putting out the trash or collecting leaves so they can buy their heart’s desire for “101 Dalmatians” plastic or stuffed dogs?  The children will learn patience, and the art of saving toward a goal – actually gaining pride in earning what they desire.  In fact, after they work that hard and that long, that toy may not look as nearly as interesting a use of their hard-earned change.  This way, your children learn self-discipline, self-control and a real appreciation for the value of “junk,” so they can make an informed decision as to how important it really is to them.

Cyber Harassment

I’m just sickened to hear the news that Lori Drew was only convicted on three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized access to computers after she, her then 18 – year-old assistant, and her teen daughter plotted to humiliate a neighbor 13-year-old…who ended up killing herself because of the emotional pain she endured at their fingertips on the computer keys.

You’ve probably heard the story: the young girl committed suicide in October of 2006 after the end of her online relationship with a fictitious 16-year-old-boy created on a fake MySpace account.  According to various news reports, the trio used the account to contact and befriend Megan.  Within a few days, Lori Drew encouraged her daughter and her assistant to on-line flirt with Megan; they planned to lure Megan to a mall to confront her with the hoax and taunt her.

As things go and grow, another neighborhood girl got involved in the whole thing and sent Megan a message – as if she were the fictitious boy – that he didn’t want to be friends anymore.  Lori Drew’s assistant then, according to the District Attorney, wrote, “the world would be a better place without you in it.”

Twenty minutes later, Megan’s mother found her hanging from her belt in her bedroom closet.

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t really understand all the legal machinations about what criminal behavior this planned cruelty constitutes, but it’s clear that there’s no real punishment for people who misrepresent themselves on an internet chat site with the INTENT to do emotional harm to a child known to have several psychiatric disorders.  Federal and state laws appear to be mute on this issue, and while companies like MySpace have “Terms Of Agreement” (which is kinda what “caught” Lori Drew, because she didn’t abide by those terms), they don’t have much in the way of “teeth” – often the most they can do is terminate the service of the offender.

Imagine: one mother decided to drive another mother’s child to devastating emotional pain as entertainment; she includes her own young teen daughter and a young adult employee….and they all have a great time of it.  No one charged the assistant or the daughter, even though they were all complicit in the intent to do emotional harm.
 
I hope there is a civil court for something like wrongful death so that these people pay some price for their evil cruelty.

Now – add to that the parental responsibility of more supervision of this vulnerable, fragile, emotionally compromised child…her parents had reversed the lock on her bedroom for her “safety,” as they were aware that she had problems.  Children without psychiatric issues ought not have unsupervised access to the internet or text messaging or any form of communication without parental oversight.  Children with psychiatric issues are at more risk. 

Recently, another teenager, this one 19, overdosed with several medications to kill himself while his computer stayed on so that everyone on the net could watch him die.  There was a huge rageful response to folks waiting 12 hours before reporting this situation to the net site or the police…who came too late.

It seems that he’d done this before, so many folks thought he was playing “wolf,” others just didn’t care, some showed concern, and others just “egged” him on….the same way folks on the ground often “egg on” a person threatening to jump from a tall building.  There are always creeps about.

What was curious to me is that the reports of this event include that the boy died in his father’s room and on his bed; that he used a combination of prescription and illegal medications.  Again we have a pathetically ill young man without proper supervision by those who could understand and help him.  It sounds like he needed hospitalization.

The Internet gives young folks the attention and pseudo-importance they naturally crave.  It is also a conduit for evil…the same way electricity is neutral…unless you try to electrocute somebody with it.

Parents have to be less casual about the evil that comes through all these technological marvels of communication.