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Foie Gras Children and Slender Men

I have always been an avid reader.

I would lose myself in book after book when I was a child. They fed my soul, took me places even my dreams could not conjure.

I absorbed every word – they painted vivid, breathtaking, amazing and sometimes frightening pictures for me.

I was rewarded with a rich vocabulary and a very intense imagination.

I drew pictures of the characters, dressed up like some of the protagonists, reenacted scenes with my dolls and my stuffed animals …

But never, ever did I confuse them with reality.

Having said that, of course, I learned from Aesop – I knew enough to summarize that his fables were teaching me things that I could and probably should be applying to ‘real life’.

But I didn’t expect that if I happened across a white rabbit and followed him, that I would be transported to another world.

I didn’t believe that there was a porridge pot that would produce endless amounts of the oats.

I knew magic beans, glass slippers and talking toads lived only in the pages of my books.

Even the fictional stories with real people, and real possibilities I knew to be entertainment. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series was among my favorites when I was little.

 

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No adult supervision, friends, lighthouses, ginger beer, cream buns, adventure AND a dog?! I was in!!!

But not really.  I knew how to separate a fictional adventure that a fictional person was having – from reality.

We have that capability to make amazing mud pies – and the sensibility not to eat them.

(Ok, to be fair, I have tried dirt.)

We dressed up like royalty,  but didn’t expect a carriage to pull up and whisk us away to our castle when playtime ended.

We had sword fights with sticks and shot people with our fingers – and not once did it seem like a good idea to take that play to the next level.

So what’s changed?

 

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Not the movies.  We had A Clockwork Orange – Night of The Living Dead.

(And is it just me or does Nosferatu resemble Slender Man?)

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It’s certainly not the bad guys – they’ve always been.  Always will be.

And as for stories and monsters – they’ve always been there too.

The Grimm brothers offered our version of ‘creepy pasta’ type tales.

What’s changed?

In my opinion, copious amounts of unmonitored and uncensored access to it!

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The past couple of days, an internet horror meme named Slender Man has been in the news, blamed for an attempted murder by two 12-year-old girls.

Slender Man is responsible for an untold amount of jump scares – but attempted murder?

 

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Too often the blame falls to video games, horror movies and even music for today’s violence.

I do not agree with this.

I blame instant access to age inappropriate material.

Instant access to graphic images.

I blame the decrease of services for the mentally ill.

I blame the constant barrage of  ‘negative news’ desensitizing those already mentally fragile.  News stations vying for viewers via shock value.

And finally, yes, I blame ‘the parents’.

That’s such a broad accusation isn’t it??

I usually cringe when I hear it – so please know I shuddered when I typed it.

But I do hold parents responsible in general, because the internet is not going away!

If we don’t want our children becoming world-wide webbed foie gras geese – we have to monitor what’s feeding their developing minds!!!

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When I was raising my son, I put limits on what he was exposed to.

By no means was I ever a perfect mother, far from it, but I do think I did a lot of things right.

I knew what he was doing, who he was doing it with and where he was as much as I could.

I was a working mom, I couldn’t possibly know everything or be there every moment.

The computer was in a family area – he did not have one in his room.

I checked the search history and monitored what he was looking at as best I could.

He was read to and encouraged to read.

We talked.  We still do.  No topic was or is off-limits.

He was not allowed to play with toy guns when he was very little – I didn’t think pretending to shoot someone was funny.

Of course, he still pretended with sticks or his fingers – and that was fine, but I was not contributing to it – that was the point I needed to make.

He was taught that guns were to be taken seriously and respected.

Nic was not allowed to play any video games I did not believe he was mentally and emotionally ready for.

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Oh sure, I knew he was playing the games I wouldn’t allow in the house when spending the night at a friends.

Let him have that fleeting feeling he was getting away with something.

Every kid needs that too.

Because the lesson had already sunk in, the games were deemed inappropriate by the person raising him. He knew it.  You certainly don’t think you’re ‘getting away’ with doing the right thing.

Horror movies – nope. Graphic unneccesary violence – nope. Nudity? Sure, in measure.

I have a more European take on that having been raised in the UK.

In England, growing up, I would turn the dial past some boring old sex scene to find a show that interested me. Nudity and sex was natural – violence was edited.

Every child is curious of course, and it breaks my heart that probably my sons first sighting of a naked woman was on some porn site and not a boob shot in a movie or the full Monty in the center of a secreted Playboy.

It’s the total opposite here in the States.

God forbid you see a nipple, but a beheading? A fatal car crash? A slaughtered village full of people? “Put that on a loop!!”

If my son committed a horrific crime, would I hold a single genre responsible it?

No.

I would know that something was broken inside of him, or hadn’t grown properly to begin with.

I would know that he was not possessing that ability to filter fantasy or intense information in a healthy way.

And I would know that I, as his parent, obviously did not provide him with the adequate amount of discipline or tools he needed.

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Musings from the Laundromat: “I don’t know” edition

There is just so much going on right now.  Personally, Locally, Nationally, Globally.

Wasn’t sure how I was going to convey all that I felt about it until I was in the shower.  I remembered that it’s okay not to know.  And that pretty much tied everything together.  “I don’t know.”

I’ve shared my opinion here in many posts – that it’s so easy to jump to conclusions (one of the few exercises I participate in unfortunately – but knowing this and not liking it is the first step to changing it.)

Unless it’s happened to you – or you were there – you can not believe everything you read, hear or even see.

Even then I suppose it’s subject to perception.

I jumped on the Justice for Trayvon bandwagon with no first hand information – I got sucked into the media circus.  I do believe, with absolute certainty, that we, as humans, can be persuaded to one side of an argument or another if only one side is pushed down our throats around the clock.

I have to step back today and remind myself:

I was not there.

I do not know.

Still, as a mother and a human, my gut is uneasy with the ruling.  George Zimmerman IS guilty of killing Trayvon Martin.  Did the prosecution have enough evidence to prove that he killed him unjustifiably?  Beyond a reasonable doubt?

I don’t know.

Obviously we have a deceased 17-year-old who died at the hands of another – that’s evidence enough for me to warrant some sort of justice!

The uneasiness I feel stems from the fact that there appears to be no justice.  But again, I don’t know that.

I don’t know if George Zimmerman has night terrors, is wracked with guilt – if his wife lies beside him at night thinking he’s a monster now.  If he’ll ever be able to resume any semblance of a ‘normal’ life.  He was judged in the court of public opinion – and that court does not adjourn.

My heart breaks for the Martin family.  I do know this.  There is no coming back for Trayvon.  Not from this.

Onto Cory Monteith.  One of my guilty pleasures is the television show ‘Glee.’  I was saddened to hear that one of its stars passed away.

Only 31 years old.  And why does it seem like more of a loss when someone is young and talented?

Shouldn’t every life should be both celebrated and mourned when it comes to an end?

Cause of death has not been determined yet, but, since they’ve stated foul play does not seem to be a factor, and since Cory recently exited a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse – the threads about his death have concluded (without actually knowing yet) that he died of an overdose.

He was found alone in a hotel in Canada by staff after he failed to checkout by checkout time.

For all the fame and wealth and celebrity that he had – he is gone and not coming back.

It doesn’t make a difference to me what cause of death was.  It’s a terrible shame and my heart goes out to his family, friends and to his fans.

If it was an overdose, I hope intelligent conversations can shed light on the issue of addiction.  That some good can come from that conversation.

On a personal note, I spoke with a dear friend yesterday that lost someone she loved.  The cause of death is also unknown – but what is known points to suicide.

She is left not knowing.  Wondering.  Living with questions and regrets. And even if the autopsy report concludes ‘overdose’ – she will still not know.

Did he mean to end his life?  Was it an accidental overdose?  Was it a cry for help that went too far?  Because – he too, is not coming back.  What is left are the people who knew and loved him trying to pick up the pieces and digest what they don’t know in order to move forward with their lives.

“I don’t know.”  Not knowing something puts us in fear.

Then again, I would rather hear “I don’t know” from someone rather than be given false information.

And when I’m asked a question I don’t have an answer for – I admit it.  Then if it’s important enough to me, I’ll educate myself on the topic or research an answer.

In my personal life – I’ve taken the very blunt, play-no-games approach.  I know how it feels to be in the dark – to not know where I stand.  I choose today to not make someone else feel that way.  It’s not kind and it’s not fair.

But then life is often not what I would consider ‘fair’.  I’ll speak for myself when I say that I tend to want what I consider a just, and reasonable beginning, middle and end.  But life is not like that.

I don’t know, but I would imagine the Martin and Monteith families probably agree today.

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What happened to responsible journalism – mini rant

I had this romantic notion of journalism.  I envisioned journalists traveling corners of the world for truth.  Verifying through extensive research and fact checking, the validity of their stories.

I picture a journalist much like an archeologist – actually, in my head, my inner-journalist is wearing an Indiana Jones outfit, sans whip, and has just landed in the nick of time to get his story to the editor at the last minute – again.   But the editor doesn’t mind – he knows the story will be good.  The story will have substance.  And he knows his journalist has sources he probably won’t disclose, but he has them – to back up his words.

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That’s the way I picture it anyway.

But it’s not really the case these days is it?  Such a shame, because some media outlets today have turned a dignified profession into an embarrasing tabloid one.

There are a couple of books I read and really enjoyed that enlightened me more on this topic – having more to do with how the press affect on-going cases in the public eye.  We now have a ‘court of public opinion’ rather than a ‘jury of our peers’ when it comes to high profile cases,  thanks to the media.

Jodi Picoult “The Pact” and Gillian Flynn “Gone Girl” touch on this powerfully.  Not everything is as it seems …

During research (yes, I do research) for a piece I wrote, I had the misfortune to read some articles by a ‘respected’ journalist that has made my blood boil.  Much to my chagrin, I keep reading it too.  But,  there are others who read the same piece that do not consider there is ‘another side.’  Or that *Shock* perhaps the journalist isn’t being entirely truthful.

I won’t mention the author or the topic – but suffice it to say, his work was peppered with his own obvious tainted feelings on his subject of choice.  It’s hard to refrain from a rebuttal, but I promised I would.  I keep my promises.

You could say that my last few paragraphs are equally guilty of being biased – but, this is my blog – stuffed full of my own opinions, I’ve certainly never claimed to be a resource for fact and news.

On the upside, I haven’t thought of Jodi Arias in a while – the media moves on and so do our thoughts.  Of course, when a new jury is selected for the penalty phase of her trial,  we’ll be inundated with her again.

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