Tag Archives: computer

Lame comments vent

I need to vent. The biggest downer about my job are the people who comment on anything I write (not here, don’t worry. You guys are awesome). It’s like people need to be negative just as much as they need to breathe, and hiding behind an anonymous computer screen allows them to be complete and utter assholes without any form of regret. I had to move this blog from a very public forum for this reason alone, because people were rude and didn’t understand that they were slamming real human beings with lives they only knew a fraction about. I’ve seen readers comment on the news side with the rudest comments to the reporters. Some complain when the articles aren’t put up fast enough, even when some other unnamed news outlet already has something up on their site. And then they complain when the articles are put up fast because they don’t have all the info.

People are so stupid.

Today’s kicker was over an article I wrote over a local musician who has been cast into the spotlight via his hard work of marketing himself, as well his extreme talent. The very first (and only, thus far) comment is from someone wondering why I didn’t write about another such and such band that they love instead.

Seriously, I can’t win.

Anyway, this is only a vent. If you’re going to write for the public, you have to take some of the slack from people who thrive on negativity and learn to ignore it. But still, as a sensitive person who has a hard time not taking offense to the actions of the jackasses of this world, sometimes I just feel like throwing my keyboard at them through the computer screen.

Taking a Tech Break

For days, the Taz had locked himself up in his bedroom, staring aimlessly at his computer screen. If it weren’t for the blue glow underneath his door, I wouldn’t even know he was home. And me? I was stuck on the living room floor with my phone in my hands, doing nothing productive in favor of playing mindless word games or checking my Facebook newsfeed for the umpteenth time.

Both of us were escaping. He was leaving the real world in favor of a virtual place where no one told him he smelled and needed a shower, that his room needed to be cleaned, and that his homework wasn’t going to check itself. I was escaping from the news of our company drastically changing, wrapping the last of the presents in my room, and the pile of clothes that weren’t going to fold themselves.

Eventually I did tear myself away from my distractions and saw the Taz’s after-dinner chores that still needed to be done. I knocked on his door and opened it, finding him mesmerized by whatever he was building onscreen.

“I need you to go back downstairs and take the recycling out and put a bag in the trash can. Also, these clothes need to go in the laundry room so I can wash them,” I told him. He sighed loudly, reluctantly leaving the desk and grabbing the clothes off his floor. I went back in the living room to rifle through the already wrinkly clothes.

Ten minutes passed when I walked in the kitchen. The recycling was still overflowing, and the garbage can still held no bag.

“Taz!” I called up to him. No answer. I went back upstairs and found him at his computer. “Taz, I really need you to finish what I asked you to do,” I told him.

“But I did!” he insisted.

“You didn’t. Remember the garbage and recycling?” And his mouth dropped.

“Oh yeah!” he said, jumping up. He raced back down the stairs and grabbed the box of recycling to take outside. When he was done, he went back upstairs. And of course, the garbage can still held no bag. One more reminder had him stomping downstairs, ripping a bag from under the sink, and angrily stuffing it in the empty trash can. But before he could race back upstairs, I stopped him.

“You’ve been on that computer an awful lot,” I pointed out to him. “I think it’s time for a break.”

“No mom! Please!” he cried, his face screwing up as he tried to convince me otherwise.

“Taz, you know how you’re having a hard time remembering all the things I’m telling you? I think being on that computer is making you forgetful.”

I was speaking from experience. My own head seemed to hold a huge block inside it, keeping me from being able to think clearly. I didn’t feel as connected to Mr. W or the kids. I was having a hard time concentrating. I wasn’t getting anything done. I knew it was the escape into virtual reality that was the culprit. Spending the whole day being on my A game at work and then coming home only to be back on the computer or my iPhone was prohibiting me from actually relaxing or being productive.

“I declare tomorrow a technology-free day,” I told him. And just as he was about to complain some more, I told him, “Myself included.”

“But how will you do your job?” he asked me.

“Not at work. I have to use the computer. But at home. I am not allowed to check Facebook or play games on my phone at all tomorrow,” I promised him. He lightened up a little. But then it fell again.

“But what will I do?” he asked me. I encouraged him to bring his book he was reading home so he could finish it. And I reminded him about the holidays coming up and he still needed to make something for his father.

And me? I’m thinking about the wrapping I’m going to get done, the annual Christmas story I need to plan out, and most of all, a fiancé and several kids who might like a little bit of my company.

Do any of you ever detox from technology? What do you do instead of plugging in?

Cyber bullying

He could be the one being cyber bullied. Or he could be the one doing the cyber bullying.

My son came to me a while back about a kid at his school. He was distressed about the fact that this kid was posting stuff on his Facebook wall. The majority of it was through an app on Facebook that asks certain questions about different Facebook friends, and the person answering has the option of answering “yes” or “no”. On his wall, it says “Little Johnny has answered a question about you. Click here to unlock”. So there is no way for many people to see what the question or the answer is. But from what the Taz told me, the questions were along the lines of “Do you think the Taz is ugly?” or “Is the Taz smart” or “Do you think the Taz picks his nose”. Of course, this kid thought it was funny to answer every question with a negative answer, and the Taz was naturally getting more and more agitated by it. I told him that if it really bothered him to just delete that friend or block the app this kid was using. But I didn’t take it too seriously because this was a common app that kids were using to answer questions about each other on Facebook. 

But then this kid became ultra focused on the friendship that the Taz shared with a girl in his class. He actually found me on Facebook and wrote me a message to inform me that the Taz had a girlfriend, an attempt to get the Taz in trouble. Upon further investigation I found that he had also posted on the Taz’s wall about the relationship. 

Little did this kid know that what he was participating in was called cyber bullying, from beginning to end. And what he was doing was not uncommon from what any other kid might be doing online. 

So what is cyber bullying? It’s any kind of harassment that takes place online. It can be as harsh as posting vicious things in a forum chat room, social network, or through email. Or it can be as light as to purposely make someone feel bad online. And the truth is any kid is capable of being a cyber bully, even those we wouldn’t deem as bullies in person. My kid is capable of it. Your kid is capable of it. All it takes is to not think things through before hitting the “send” or “post” button. 

President Obama tackled the issue of cyber bullying this morning, followed by a live chat at the White House through Facebook that was hosted by Kalpen Modi, associate director for the White House Office of Public Engagement.  The live chat was about 45 minutes long, and covered what the panel knew about cyber bullying, as well as answering questions emailed to them about the issue. And they made a lot of points that are worth taking into account. 

First of all, it’s rare for bullies to feel like they’re bullying. Instead, their frame of mind is that they are justified. This is where we parents should be stepping in with our kids. Teach them the Golden Rule – to treat others as they would like to be treated. The most important point that was brought up repeatedly throughout the chat was the question we should be teaching our kids to ask themselves: “Am I treating this person with dignity?” More importantly, is dignity being used when it’s hard? It’s not hard to treat someone with dignity when it’s easy. But when there is anger or a disagreement in ideas involved, dignity is hard to come by. There’s a thin line between what is right and what is wrong in regards to bullying online. Because something is said through text, it’s hard to distinguish the true meaning behind what could just be teasing, and what can be classified as harassment. This makes it ultra important for us to teach our kids to think before they post or send something online. 

On the dignity point, there are words that are used casually by many of our youth, but also target a group of people in a negative way – words like “retarded”, “fag”, “gay”. If your teen believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and yet they’re using language like this, it’s important that we teach them the hypocritical behavior they’re taking part in. When they use words like “fag” or “gay”, they are part of the group that is degrading. Ask your child, “Do you believe it’s ok to degrade others? Because that is what you are doing when you use those kinds of words in negative ways.” 

Many parents are either unaware of any cyber bullying their child is taking part in, or are simply in denial when it is brought to their attention. “Not my kid,” is a common misconception. And this is to the frustration of many teachers who are very aware of bullying done either in the classroom or online. But how do teachers bring this to a parent’s attention? The first is to set up a time with the parent to discuss the situation in person. Start out this meeting by mentioning something positive about the child first. And then go directly into the situation at hand. Stress your responsibility to the classroom, how it’s your job to ensure the safety of every child, the child in discussion as well as the rest of the class. “I really like your child, and that is why I’d love to work together on this with you to make this a positive experience for everyone in the class.” 

And how do we, as parents, tackle cyber bullying without invading our children’s privacy? How involved we get depends on the child. Do we demand their password or insist they chat with us whenever they’re online? It really depends on your relationship with your child and what is most comfortable with you. While it’s true a child can create more than one Facebook account (or limit your access to them), it’s not a bad idea to be “friends” with your kid on Facebook. In fact, 86% of parents online are “friends” with their child. 

Do I believe this kid that was harassing my son online is a bad kid? No. I also don’t believe that either of my children is incapable of cyber bullying, or that cyber bullies are only bad kids. Any child can be guilty of this kind of behavior. And it is our job as adults to a) model the behavior we wish for them to emulate and b) keep the dialogue of online behavior a constant point of discussion with our kids who use the Internet. 

Have you experienced a form of cyber bullying? Do you have concerns about it, or tips on how to tackle it? Share your thoughts in the comments.