Slightly Insane Mom

"All mothers are slightly insane." –J.D. Salinger
July 2nd, 2014

Worthless Crap Wednesday: Internet Things That Need to Die a Fast, Painful Internet Death

After a month-long hiatus in which I engaged in a bit of self-pity and simultaneously gained 5 pounds by binge-eating ice cream, I’m back, and I have a few things to talk about. I need to tell you about Little Miss Sunshine’s first Girl Scout camping trip, Sergeant Snowflake’s new behavioral therapist, and I should probably talk about Mr. Mischief a bit, too (I swear, he does exist, and he’s awesome!). But before I can do any of that, it’s time for another edition of Worthless Crap Wednesday, in which I talk about things that are of absolutely no importance whatsoever.

This week’s topic: Internet Things That Need to Die a Fast, Painful Internet Death.

Much like LFO, those jeans with the pleather chaps attached, and Pogs, some trends are stupid and need to be forever scattered to the winds of pop culture history. Unfortunately, now we have the internet, which means that stupid things that would have been a flash in the pan in previous decades are now drawn out agonizingly, in every possible iteration. We all have different pet peeves. My brother-in-law, for example, hates Buzzfeed quizzes, whereas I am ALWAYS down for them, as I find them to be stunningly accurate windows into my soul.

Here is my own personal list of Internet Things that induce instant, teeth-gnashing rage whenever I see them:

1. “Nom nom nom.” Why are people still saying this? It’s stupid.  Don’t type it, and for fuck’s sake, don’t say it out loud. Don’t even think it. Let’s just go back to “yum” and save ourselves 2 syllables worth of idiocy.

2. The Condescending Wonka meme. The one about North Face jackets was funny.

northface-adventures

via knowyourmeme.com

Since then, they’ve all gone downhill.

3. Posting an article on Friendface, with the comment “THIS.” Listen, I get it. Sometimes you’re so enraged or flummoxed or coffee-deprived that you know you won’t be able to articulate anything nearly as concise as the author of the article. But friends, I really think we need to aim a little higher. Tell us why this link to a Colbert clip means something to you. Give me four or five words about why Matt Walsh’s latest right wing rant sums up your existence. Or–and here’s a concept–don’t say anything at all. Let the piece speak for itself. I know that little rectangle on the share window is beckoning, but if you must fill it with something, fill it with an actual thought. I’ll take an “LOL, this is awesome!” over “THIS” any day of the week.

4. Rape Sloth memes. Not everyone is familiar with the Rape Sloth, but believe it or not, it’s a thing, and it needs to go away. Much like sloths themselves, the Rape Sloth meme is creepy to the extreme.

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via memegenerator.net

The original meme started as a parody of a fashion spread–a model poses in a photo shoot with a creepy sloth whispering in her ear–who comes up with these things?! The problem is, rape is not funny. It’s never, ever funny. Not in meme form, not in stand-up comedy form, and not in casual conversation. I know this post is supposed to be about Internet Things, but now I’m off on a tangent and it’s my blog so I can do that. While the Rape Sloth is an Internet Thing, rape jokes are a Human Thing, and they need to die a fast, painful death.

5. Making fun of obese people. So there was this photo posted on a popular humor site and passed around the Interwebs. I’m not going to show it here, because I don’t want to contribute to the subject’s continued embarrassment, but I’ll describe it as best I can. Picture a grocery store soft drink aisle. In the middle of the aisle is an obese man who has tipped over his motorized scooter while trying to reach for a 12-pack of pop. This photo has made its way around the internet, always with a caption along the lines of “Must… Reach… Diet Coke!” And I’m assuming the message we’re supposed to take away from it is, “Ahhh, fat people! So funny!” It’s also supposed to be a commentary on the obesity epidemic in America. But to me, it’s more of a statement about the insensitivity epidemic in our country. A disabled person has fallen in a grocery store aisle, and rather than help, someone whips out a cell phone and snaps a photo that gets shared by thousands of people.

Think before you share insensitive bullshit. Also, those apps that take your photos and make you fat or old? Those things need to die, too.

6. Upworthy. Has there ever been a smarmier name for a site? This site owes its continued existence to suckers who fall for its click-bait headlines. “The Most Important Video You’ll See All Day.” “You’ll Never Believe What This Little Girl Does Next.” “What this Veteran Does Will Amaze You.” Folks, you’re being manipulated by these words to click, share, and increase Upworthy’s ad revenue.

7. Friendface Like Farming. I have personally shared Facecrooks’ excellent breakdown of like-farming scams about eleventy-seven times on my newsfeed. Alas, my Friendface friends still insist on sharing nonsense, so let me break it down for you. Scammy McScamster sets up a Friendface page with a name that is meant to sound legit. For my particular group of friends (30-40-something moms) we tend to fall for things in the home arena. Let’s say the page is called Scammy’s Splendid Home. Scammy trolls around the internet and finds recipes, inspirational quotes on pretty backgrounds, home tips, and those nifty “50 Great Preschool Crafts” posts. She then steals the post, giving no credit whatsoever to the original author, and posts it on her Scammy’s Splendid Home Friendface page. The page starts gathering likes, and once it gets enough, it can start making money off Friendface by posting ads for products and identity-stealing malware. So when you share that recipe for cinnamon rolls that most certainly was not written by Scammy herself, you’re encouraging the scammers, you’re endorsing plagiarism, and you’re putting your friends at risk for identity theft. If a post about How to Spotlessly Clean Your Windows encourages you to “like, and share to your timeline to save this post,” it’s a like-farming scam, no more. If you’re into sharing home tips, there’s a site for that. It’s called Pinterest.

8. Grumpy Cat Abuse. Perhaps the issue that weighs most heavily on my mind is the misuse of Grumpy Cat in memes. Poor Grumpy. All she wants to do is hang around and be mildly perturbed.

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via knowyourmeme.com

But instead, she’s got asshats making memes like this:

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via some knucklehead on memegenerator.net

She’s Grumpy Cat, not Evil Sadist Cat. Get it straight, Internet.

To sum up, friends, can we just agree to do away with some of these things? Let’s let them die to make room for the inevitable creation of more internet fuckery.

May 27th, 2014

Diagnosis pt. 2: In Which I Get Snarky

This is the second in a planned 3-part series on Sgt. Snowflake’s diagnosis. He was recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s) and ADHD, combined type. Warning: these posts are heavy on the feelings, light on the humor. If you want humor, go read about my dog’s boner. You can read part 1 of the diagnosis series here.

Let me start off this post by saying that by and large, people are awesome. When I posted a request for information on autism and ADHD on Friendface, my friends came through with more resources and words of support than I ever imagined. This post isn’t about those people. This post is about the people who don’t know how to react, and so they say whatever foot-in-mouth nonsense first crosses their cerebral cortex.

A Handy Guide to Saying the Right Things to a Parent of a Child with Autism

So let’s say a parent comes to you and says, “My child has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.” Here are some things you might want to avoid saying:

“What a shame.” You know what’s a shame? Kids with terminal illnesses. World hunger. Illiteracy. Violence in our inner cities. Priorities, people.

“I wonder if he’ll ever [go to prom/play football/go to college] now.” There are a lot of things my kid might not do. But last time I checked, you’ve never been to the moon or discovered a cure for cancer. What’s your excuse?

“Do you think it was something you did during pregnancy?” Yep. All of that air I was breathing and genes I was passing on. Definitely all my fault. Thanks for reminding me.

“My friend’s roommate’s nephew had that, but he grew out of it. Maybe your child will, too.” Anecdata is SO helpful!

“You’re getting a second opinion, right?” I dunno. I figured I would just wait for you to go get a Ph.D. in neuroscience and prove the first doctor wrong.

“I sell a line of supplements that’s been known to help with that.” Let me take your business card and I’ll get back to you.

“If it makes you feel any better, I’d never guess it by looking at him.” And you expected autism to look like… what, exactly?

“He’s probably acting out for attention.” I know, right? Why can’t he just shave his head and pierce his nose like normal attention-deprived preschoolers? Jeez.

“I bet it was that MMR vaccine.” You’re probably right. Jenny McCarthy will back you up on that.

“He has poor motor skills? Maybe you just don’t take him outside to play enough.” He’s the one I keep inside like a potted plant. The other two kids with perfectly normal motor skills are allowed to run and frolic as they please.

“I’m sorry, I’m just having a hard time processing this.” Oh my gosh, how RUDE of me! I totally forgot that my child’s autism is ALL ABOUT YOU!

Folks, if you have ever been in this situation, or believe you ever will find yourself in this situation, here’s a friendly tip: Take out that mental filter that strains the thoughts going from your brain to your mouth, dust it right the hell off, and use it. Because let me explain something here: when a parent receives a diagnosis like this, there is a grieving process involved. When you find out your child has a developmental disorder, your brain does something along the lines of this: Oh thank God, we finally have a label on it. Oh my God, my kid has a label. He’s LABELED. For life. What does this mean? Did I cause this? Will he ever go to prom? Will he have friends? What if he lives at home forever? I wonder if there’s a waiting list for behavioral therapy. What IS behavioral therapy? What IS autism, for that matter? Shit, I have to go home and google stuff. I just want to get in bed and cry. Maybe I can google stuff tomorrow. No, wait, we have OT tomorrow. Crap, have to get on the waiting list for speech therapy. This totally explains that time when he did XYZ at my inlaws’ house. Shit, what do I tell the family? They’re not going to get it. Maybe they will. I hope they don’t act weird around us now. What should I make for dinner?…

That’s just the first few seconds. And then you come home after a silent car ride with your spouse, and you begin making phone calls. You tell your parents. You call the therapy place the neuropsychologist recommended. You think about calling insurance to verify coverage, and then you think, fuck it, what I really need today is some ice cream, because I’d rather eat my feelings than deal with them right now. Because you’ve just come upon the first tiny kernel of realization about WHAT THIS MEANS for you as a parent. It means that everything changes and nothing changes all at the same time. Your kid is the same as he was an hour ago, and you’re the same, but suddenly the difficulty factor of your job as a parent has been multiplied times infinity-and-one. The old Acme anvil has just been dropped, Roadrunner-style, and you’re the Coyote with the birds and stars spinning around your head.

And you go on Friendface and see your friends posting Instacrap pictures of their frappuccinos and their pedicures, and bragging about their neurotypical kids being all typical and shit, and you realize that you are now a MOM OF A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, and if that’s what life has handed you, then goddammit, you’re going to wear that scarlet A with the best of ’em. So you work up the nerve and you write a post about your kid, and you wonder if your friends will all read it and say a simultaneous “Well, that explains a lot!”

And then you make dinner, you go to bed, you cry, and you get up the next day and face the world in which everything is different and the same.

So just in case you never have to find yourself in my shoes, please heed my handy advice. Also, please read this article about the Ring Theory of Kvetching. I read this article shortly after a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and shortly before Snowflake was diagnosed with Asperger’s. It has truly changed how I approach people in a crisis, and how I look at other people when I am at the center of a crisis. The gist of the article can be summed up by this handy diagram. Read it and memorize it.

Illustration by Wes Bausmith, L.A. Times

Ring Theory of Kvetching

To explain: A crisis can be illustrated in concentric rings, with the person experiencing the crisis in the center. Those closest to them are the next ring out, followed by the next closest people, and so on and so on. If you encounter a crisis, ask yourself: what ring am I on? Your ring placement determines which people you are allowed to bitch to. Let’s go with the “friend with cancer” analogy. The friend, being the center of the crisis, is allowed to dump all of her feelings OUT, to any level of the circle, at any time. Her family is allowed to dump OUT to all levels outside of their ring; however, they may not dump IN. The only thing that goes IN is comfort. Dump OUT, comfort IN. If you are a coworker, thinking about dumping IN? Go dump somewhere else, because what you have to offer is not helpful.

I found myself thinking about the Rings of Kvetching a lot in the week or so after Sgt. Snowflake’s diagnosis: the massive challenge of always sending comfort and positivity IN, to Snowflake, the fear of dumping too much OUT onto others, and the anger and hurt at others dumping IN on us. I wish I could send around this chart to everyone who dumped IN with a note that says, “Thanks for dumping your bullshit on us. For future reference, here’s a handy guide on what NOT to do.” But perhaps that’s too harsh. Dumper-inners are often well-meaning folk, after all. They just don’t know what to say. Neither do I, sometimes.

So I’ll leave it at that, dear readers reader. Stay tuned for part 3.