Tag Archives: what we do

Hurting Kids By Protecting Them

I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.

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Hey, I know what we should do.

We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.

Because that’s worked with everything else.

Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.

If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all.  New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.

R u srs? I rly dbt it.

As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.

The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.

Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.

And the internet is a portal to all of them.

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.

How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?

Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.

Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.

Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.

Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.

So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.

BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.

Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.

Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.

Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.

Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.

There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?

Know what life is?

Hurt. Pain. Achievement. Failure. Love. Joy. Accidental. Surprising. Mysterious. Unpredictable.

But it sure as fuck ain’t safe.

This safety-drive’s fucking up everything.

We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”

We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!

We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.

You know what?

Stop it.

Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.

We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.

We’re fucking pathetic.

Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.

But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.

I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.

Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.

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Seriously, though?

Remember Columbine?

What if Klebold & Harris had been on Facebook? Would the worst massacre in American high school history have occurred?

And, just, you know, as an aside?

Have you seen these numbers? Note the advent of the Internet’s use by the general population, starting in 1994, and the numbers of school massacres since? Declining every year.

Your fragile children? Safer than ever. So, back off, mama.

Pop Psychology: “The Little Things”

My Sunday mornings are something I greatly enjoy. Typically, it involves rolling out of bed sometime around 9 or later, then some lazy TV until I get up the energy to make a nice breakfast. Then, I’ll take my nice breakfast, my coffee, and settle in to watch one of my many movies (if nothing worthwhile’s on telly, and usually nothing is) until the urge to write has struck.

Guess which part of my morning I’m at now? Well, to my right sits too-strong coffee with a bit of milk, and in the VCR is one of my really old videotapes – An American Psycho. My breakfast was eggs scrambled with caramelized red onions and red peppers with sundried tomatoes and basil, and back bacon, and good toast. I’m pretty much in my happy place now. A shower eventually looms, and then a trip out into the world for a Solo Day of Fulfillment.

The movie, a psychological classic, has got me thinking. If you’ve never seen American Psycho, it’s a remarkable study of the psychosis of the Type-A serial killer, chillingly portrayed by Christian Bale. The writing is top-notch (as most of Bret Easton Ellis’ work tends to be) and the acting makes it pretty surprising that Christian Bale ever got another job after that movie, since he became the killer, which generally slays an actor’s commercial appeal. (Much like how accurately portraying Ted Bundy put Mark Harmon’s career in the toilet for a decade.)

As I said, the movie has me thinking. There’s the old cliché, “How well do we really know anyone?” Not very, not usually. We think we know people, but we tend to go on face-value more than any real criteria. There’s a segment at the beginning of the movie when Bale’s character, Patrick Bateman, goes on at length about his skincare regime. The inference is, his face is the only thing people have to go on, and its perfection is his façade, covering his whirlwind of anger, insecurities, and need for approval, all of which drives his merciless, brutal killing of women.

We find “love” by comparing likes. Ooh, we like the same movies, the same books, we have fun the same way, we laugh at the same jokes; it must be love!

The thing is, even the most stark-raving lunatic enjoys culture and movies and has favourite foods they can’t live without. Likes and interests are superficial, at best.

When it comes to people in my life, be it friends or family or lovers, I watch The Little Things. The insignificant things that we often brush aside are the greatest tells as to who and what the people around us are like. It doesn’t take me long to assess a person’s character, and it tends to make me fiercely loyal when I see them behave in respectful, goodly ways.

Ignore the big picture and turn on the macro lens. Do they respect people providing them service in stores and establishments? Do they come to the aid of someone in need? Are they helpful when someone asks them for info on the street? Can they chat amiably with a perfect stranger? Do they ensure they’re including you in conversations with friends? Do they arrive on time, or let you know when they’re going to be late? Do they drive aggressively, tail-gating every car they come upon?

You get the picture. I’m not saying a person should be dumped for any of the above transgressions, but you sure as hell ought to be taking note of it. For instance, one could assume that I have a very quick temper by the way I get so snappish when riding my scooter, or one could at least assume I’m very quick to get on the defensive. And they’d be right. It’s true, I get very defensive. It’s one of my worst qualities. It also speaks to the fact that I’m a perfectionist who overthinks things, so when someone begins to point out a flaw or an error on my part, I might well put up a wall to protect myself. I know this to be my character weakness, and I at least have the guts to own up to it with those around me. It doesn’t make the flaw go away, but at least I’m accountable about it. As flaws go, it could be worse, but it’s still a character flaw.

I’m forever astounded, though, by people who seem to blatantly ignore endless flaws and attitude problems in partners, all because they have ‘so much in common.’

So many of us hide a great deal of who we are. We’re fools if we fail to suspect others might be doing the same. We have insecurities, fears, hatreds, weaknesses, and they all combine for a lethal cocktail at times. How we behave in the Little Moments is indicative of our character at its deepest levels. Yes, we have flaws, but are we inherently good and kind people? Look deeper than the surface. Our daily insignificant actions are the only true evidence we provide – the things we do so naturally that we don’t even think before we act. These are the moments when who we are comes through, and those are the moments to take note of who’s at heart of the person you think you know.

School Me, Babe: Relationship Education

Had I actually been a guest on Sex with Emily last Saturday night as planned, question number one from them was, “Why is your blog so popular?” Why, indeed?

If I had to say why I wish my blog was as popular as it’s proving to be, I’d say it’s because I’d like to think I’m real. But that’s a pat little answer, isn’t it?

The thing about sex writing is, it’s so easy, in theory, to write about dripping, hard cocks, about the fury and the fumbling of two people coming together in sexual union – the passion, the intensity, the fun, the excitement. The pulsing of hearts, the throbbing of members, the vaginal swelling… we’ve all experienced these things, we’ve all been on both the receiving and giving ends of pleasure, and so it’s easy to relate to when we read about others’ experiences. And if it’s not something we actually can relate to, then it’s something we live vicariously through.

Not a lot of sex writers try to tackle the emotional content under it all, though, and the ones who do tend to inspire more loyalty from their readers. I tend to focus more on the emotional aspect of it – not just the emotions we show, but those we hide. Perhaps this is why y’all dig me. Or maybe it’s my irreverence, or my honesty about my own insecurities and desires and fears and dreams. Who knows. But these are the reasons I would like to believe my blog is popular.

And it’s something I thought about when I saw this “breaking” news on the BBC site. Apparently kids find sex education classes too biological. Gee. Really?

They’re right. It is far too biological. Everything about sex originates in one place: the brain. The brain powers our emotional response, spurs our physical response, and then our juices flow, action proceeds to happen (or not), and the rest is messy history.

Funny enough, in England, the biology of sex is a mandatory class, but “personal social and health education” is optional at the institutions doing the teaching. This latter course brings education about relationship and emotional health into play.

I must have missed the memo where relationships and emotional health were optional in my own life.

In a time when divorce is the norm, moreso than happy marriages, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the ways in which we approach relationships. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the psychology/self-help departments of bookstores are the most popular non-fiction sections for a very good reason: We’re all so fucking clueless about how to deal not only with our own problems but any of the problems that might arise in our relationships.

I have a history of running from relationships when things get tough, which is why I’m stunned I’m even hanging around my present relationship at all, considering all the life-induced chaos within it. My first running-from-adversity relationship happened with a young guy named “JH,” my first real boyfriend. He fell, and he fell hard. He wrote me songs, played his guitar for me, and felt like the king of the town whenever I was around. I dumped him as soon as I saw that a divorce was imminent with my parents. I never told him why I was fucked up because I was too ashamed to admit my parents’ failure, and more ashamed to admit that I was weak emotionally.

I pulled the “but we can still be friends” bullshit and instead learned what it felt like to break someone’s heart. The guy fell apart and wrote a “you tore my heart to shreds” song for me, handed it to a friend to deliver to me, and within the week, stole a car, got arrested, and then never, ever spoke to me again.

Maybe if I’d had a better emotional upbringing I wouldn’t have fucked JH up as much as I apparently had. Who knows. I do know that I didn’t have a clue how to open up, how to trust, or how to react when the fit hit the shan. Instead, I’ve spent the better part of two decades slowly learning these lessons through bump-in-the-night, daytime talk shows, and brief flirtations with both self-help books and actual therapy.

And I’m not an exception, I’m the norm. Isn’t it time we change that?

As for “sex education,” it’s really a misnomer. I know that nothing I’ve ever had to deal with was taught to me by anyone with any authority. I learned through necessity.

I’ve had the fear of a condom breaking with a boyfriend before the age of 20, having to stroll self-consciously into a Free Clinic in order to get a morning-after pill, something I’ve had to take three times in my life. I once was so freaked out I was pregnant that I remember doing a pregnancy test ASAP after purchasing it – in the bathroom of a Subway sandwich shop. I never learned about the possible negatives of birth control pills until the last few years, because I was already so fucked up in so many ways that it just never dawned on me that my depression must have been exasperated by pill usage.

In short, everything I’ve ever learned about sex has come as a result of a need-to-know, and-now education, not before-the-fact. It has been a hard road getting to the place I’m at now, considering I was raised by sexually ignorant parents who weren’t comfortable talking about sex, and schooled by a high school that didn’t teach sex ed. Of my friends, I was one of the first to get laid, even though I was 17, and none of us ever talked about sex. When I lost my cherry, my only education was that provided by television and movies. I had no idea why the hell there was a wet spot, and it scared the crap out of me.

I didn’t understand all the emotions that came with sex, and I didn’t understand that a kiss was just a kiss, not an undying declaration of love. I wasn’t hurt by love; I was destroyed by it, and all because I was ignorant of the power relationships could have over us.

Teaching us the biology of sex does little to prepare us for the emotional overload that comes from relationships. Teaching us about human relationships and the dynamics of emotional response would far better prepare us for life and love, and it’s damned well time schools began to embrace that reality.

In the final paragraph of the article I’ve cited, some talking head spouts this sentiment:

“We trust teachers to use their professional judgement to decide which organisations can support teaching and learning in the classroom and which resources best support schools’ sex and relationship programmes.”

Jesus. Let’s not trust the teachers, okay? Let’s convene some people in-the-know to talk about what needs to be learned by kids today, and then create a program that includes all those essential facets, so as to stem relationship problems, improve self-esteem, and build emotional resilience. Violence in schools is greater than ever, bullying is at an all-time high, and divorces are skyrocketing.

Isn’t it time we learn about emotional health as part of our curriculum? ‘Cos we’re clearly fucked without it.