Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday morning things

* Colleague of mine ran by to borrow my keys to get into the lab room: he said he'd forgotten his at home (Not sure how he got into the building; I thought it was not unlocked until 7:30?). Anyway, he commented "This is the first time I've done this; middle age must be approaching."

I laughed to myself because he's a year younger than I am, so, by my accounting, he's DEFINITELY middle aged. (In two years I will be eligible for AARP)

But yeah, "middle age is approaching." Keep telling yourself that, man.

* Unfortunate news story of the day - a couple towns to the north, a woman is on trial for (I guess) statutory rape. She was a schoolteacher; he was her student (high school). Super-squicky.

They gave her age on the news: same age as I am. That made it even more squicky though I admit to looking at the footage of her in the courtroom and going "So, do I look older or younger than her?" (she had obviously-dyed blonde hair, so I don't know)

Anyway: my students are of age, and I wouldn't remotely want to date one of them. Even if there WAS a non-trad guy who was close to me in age and shared some of the same interests and actually asked me out, I would politely demur until he had graduated. (Not that that's ever even seemed a remote possibility, and I look at my traditional-aged students and go, "Wow, these guys are SO YOUNG and they have NO IDEA.")

and yeah, I get that my 'relationship goal' is probably different from this teacher's (if I'm going to the trouble of forging a relationship, I want it to be with someone I can talk to and where there is mutual emotional support, and that kind of thing. The physical stuff even is kind of secondary at this point....and I assume she was looking for purely physical).

We....seem to have a lot of problems with that in my area. Lots of cases of teachers "dating" their high school students. I don't know why, I don't know if there's just an epidemic of bad judgement or what. You're throwing your career (and possibly your freedom) away for "a bit of fun," to use the old British euphemism....

* Speaking of young students: one of the guys in one of my classes this week showed up wearing a Coachella entry wristband (heigh-ho, status signalling!). That's in CALIFORNIA. I can't imagine driving that far for a weekend. (Or maybe he flew, I don't know. Shoot, maybe he even knows someone in our aviation program and it was a chartered plane trip, for all I know).

But yeah. Reminds me of the kids who would go to Mardi Gras when I was a student at Illinois State and how I was gobsmacked at the whole "drive 18 hours (or whatever it was) for one day some place" but I don't know....there might be things I'd be willing to drive that ridiculous an amount for, I just can't think of any right now.

* There was an interesting article in the new American Scientist (the publication of Sigma Xi, it's not to be confused with Scientific American, which used to be pretty solid but recently seems to have veered over into "sensationalistic" territory). Anyway, the article was about Internet trolling, written from a more psychological perspective.

I skimmed the article, will read it more in-depth later, but one take home lesson the authors proposed: anyone can be a troll. It's not just some small band of 4-chan rejects that roam the internet, looting and pillaging.

I'm not QUITE sure I buy the ANYONE can be a troll argument. I may have snarked about things on occasion where I felt a little bad when I thought about it in the cold light of day, but I've tried very hard not to say hurtful things to other people. (And not issue threats. Not even really silly ones, like, "May you eat a lot of beets one night, forget the next morning you had, and then wind up going to the ER for an emergency scoping...")

But another thing they said struck me: there's a time pattern to this thing. Most trolling happens late in the evening/late at night, and it often happens at the very start of the workweek - at times when people are already feeling bad and discontented (and, it's implied, in the late-night stuff that sometimes "alcohol may have been involved," like they say on the news). And I can see that. People's inhibitions are reduced, they're more prone to lash out. (The old H-A-L-T acronym, which someone who had been through a recovery program told me about: be very careful when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired)

I will say I know most of my dumb online impulse purchases tend to come late in the evening, especially after a hard day. (Hm. Maybe I am trolling myself. That would be about par for the course).

But yeah: anyone can troll, and I guess anyone can BE trolled. (Though my tendency, when a discussion is getting heated, is to kinda nope out of there). I don't remember any direct rudeness of a person directing it at me, specifically, but I have read too many online comments sections about stuff and I regularly feel dismay over the attitudes of some towards, say higher ed, or Christians, or people who like cartoons, or women who aren't married and staying quietly in the background of their home.

Ah well. "Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate" and you just have to shake it off, I guess. And the only person's behavior you control is your own.

* Though another, more positive online thing I see, is commiseration: every time I see a tweet referencing what a shame it is that most women's clothing doesn't come with pockets, it usually has a couple thousand retweets. (So: lots of people feel that way. And yeah, it's frustrating not to have pockets)

I suspect a lot of the trolling/not-trolling thing comes down to seeing people as people: perhaps what often stays my hand, as much as "this person might retaliate verbally if you're rude to them" is "what if this person were a friend? Would you say that to them then?"

Once again: I think what will destroy us is ceasing to see the other person as a person.

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