Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Unclear on how Facebook books

May 23rd, 2015 by Vader

Dear Palpatine:

I was a full-time summer nanny for several years for the same family, now a preteen boy and girl. I loved them, had a great time on the job and have communicated with them occasionally through the years on birthdays and holidays. Eventually, I moved away for college and was no longer able to sit for them.

Both kids now are on Facebook, and I (foolishly) accepted their friend requests. I use Facebook to keep in touch with family members or for school group projects, so I am on only once or twice a week.

The girl messages me almost daily with “Hey” or similar short things. I am unable to dedicate time to this kind of interaction even within my own age group, but I feel bad leaving so many messages unanswered. What can I tell her? I’d love to catch up around holiday times like we used to, but I’d like to be left alone online. — BUSY, BUSY IN CHICAGO

Abby’s advice was a straightforward recommendation to be straightforward with the girl or her parents. Not bad, as far as it goes.

His Majesty gives similar advice, though the details differ.

I understand why you might have a problem with this. As a Facebook user who only logs in once or twice a week, you are probably not fully familiar with the interface. Here is what you do:

  1. Go to that person’s profile
  2. Hover over the Friends button at the top of their profile
  3. Select Unfriend

The second letter was a bit more wrenching. That’s unusual; Abby usually puts a serious letter first, and a more lighthearted one after.

DEAR ABBY: My mom and dad are fighting and getting mad at each other a lot. I am trying my best to make them happy with each other, but nothing seems to work. They told me they would always be happy together, but it does not look like it right now. What do I do? — NEEDING HELP IN FLORIDA

Abby’s advice was that sometimes it’s better for kids if their parents split up, because it’s not good for kids to be around conflict. The divorce  is not the kid’s fault, and the kid can’t do much about it, but maybe some adult can encourage the parents to see a marriage counselor.

His Majesty sees it differently. At least, I think so.

A lot of older people who give advice will tell you that it’s better for parents to split up than to have their children grow up in an environment in which they are exposed to serious conflict. It follows that you need not feel guilty about your lack of success at bringing your parents back together. On the contrary, you should redouble your efforts,  but directed towards the end of getting them to split up as soon as possible. It’s really for your own good!

There are a number of very effective ways to do this. For example, if you thought tattling was good for generating conflict between a parent and a sibling, wait until you see what it can do between two parents. You’ve already gotten a good start on that by complaining to other adults about your parent’s marriage, but here are some additional suggestions.

It is received wisdom among older people who give advice that most divorce stems from either money or sex. You didn’t say how old you are, but since you are old enough to write a coherent letter to the people pretending to be Abigail Van Buren (who died two years ago, and whose real name was Pauline Phillips), and since this is the United States in the 21st century, I think it’s safe to assume you know as much about sex as your parents do, and it’s okay for us to talk about it.

But let’s talk about money first, since, if you are a typical American teenager, you know a lot less about money than sex. This is because schools are required to teach sex ed, which gives you the theory, and then they create an environment in which the practicum is provided informally.  But you are not required to learn even the rudiments of economics. And this is because the politicians who make rules for schools believe people are easier to control if they are busier making love than making money.

Most people are more attached to money than to almost anything else. I will tell you why. You need some money just to have food to eat and clothes to wear and a warm place to sleep. Pay no attention to the waifs who display the latest fashions so rich women can decide which are ugliest and therefore most likely to not be worn by other rich women. You really do need to eat and to wear clothes that actually cover your body. Clothes serve many important functions other than getting in the way of casual sex.

People sometimes don’t have enough money for all the necessary things, and that’s bad. But it’s far more common for the problem to be this: People don’t understand that the proper use of money is to let you eat and wear clothes and have a warm place to sleep. It is also okay to have money for things like paying for the doctor, and paying your taxes (which as a former political leader I can assure you is very important), and to be able to get the things you need in order to be able to do something people will pay you to do, so you can have the money for the food and clothes and warm place.

This last part can be a problem, since you have to be able to do something people will pay you to do in order to get the money you need to equip yourself to be able to do something people will pay you to do. Politicians try to get around this by making you go to school for free, but since they require the schools to teach you sex ed instead of basic money management or employment skills, that doesn’t always work out very well. The adult version is something called “student loans”, and that doesn’t always work out very well either. If they taught you about basic economics in school, you might hear about savings, and something called “capital.” It’s not actually the zombie Che Guevara slew so that he could have his picture on tee-shirts. Well, not exactly.

Anyway, people don’t understand what money is for, and so they think it is for all sorts of things they don’t really need. You don’t really need to collect all 30,722 Pokemon cards, for example. Trust me. And adults don’t need to collect extra clothes they aren’t going to wear and more cars than there are drivers in the household and more bedrooms than they have kids, even if they wear the kinds of clothes that don’t get in the way of casual sex. (The parents, I mean.) But somehow they think they do, and there is never enough money for it, and moms and dads end up fighting over what to use the money for.

Moms and dads who don’t have enough money for food and clothes and a warm place don’t need to fight over what to use the money for. They need to use the money for food and clothes and a warm place and they both know it.

So you can help Mom and Dad split up faster by tattling to Mom about how Dad was using the credit card to pay for the porn access channel on the cable TV. And you can tattle to Dad about how Mom was using the credit card to pay for playing the slots on the Internet. Be creative. Honesty is another thing that gets in the way of a swift divorce; you can set the example for your parents. Though, since they assured you they would always be happy together, it sounds like they have this one down already.

The tattling about Dad paying for cable porn is a twofer, since it hits both money and sex. Just as money has a proper use, which is to have food and clothes and a warm place, and maybe a few other necessary things, so sex has a proper use, which is to conceive children and to socialize the parents of those children towards each other so that they stick together to finish raising those children. This, incidentally, is why it’s probably not a good idea for you to have sex. Neither you nor I want you to have children (admittedly, not for all the same reasons*) and it’s a mistake to get stuck to someone until you are ready to have children. Sex is fun, but it doesn’t last nearly as long its consequences. Reading a good book lasts a lot longer, it’s not nearly as messy, and it rarely has awkward long-term consequences.

You can get your parents to split up faster using the sex angle. For example, staying out past curfew makes your parents stay up wondering where you are instead of going to bed and having sex. If you are a girl, wearing the kinds of clothes that don’t interfere too much with casual sex will be awkward for your dad, and it will make him think about sex, which will make him think about how he isn’t getting enough good sex from your mom. It can also make your mom think about sex, so you’re covered even if it is your mom who thinks she isn’t get enough good sex from your dad. If you are a boy, wearing inadequate clothes is more likely to make your parents think about personal hygiene than about sex, so you’ll need a different approach.  Playing the right kind of music (by which I mean the wrong kind of music) can have the right effect. So can leaving a copy of Penthouse in your bedroom where your mom will find it; if you are lucky, she will try to tattle on you to your dad, and if that conversation goes the right way, by which I mean the wrong way, it can really get the fireworks going between them. And I don’t mean the kind that end with the two wrapped around each other in bed.

Does all this advice sound like nonsense on stilts? That’s because it is. If being in an environment in which there is conflict was really that bad for children, then every middle school in the United States would be shut down by the authorities. While there comes a point where kids may plausibly be better off with the parents divorced, that point comes when the parents start physically abusing each other.

So here’s the bad news for this poor child. Her parents are the only one who can wake up and realize that they will make her life very hard if they don’t learn to adjust their differences and get on with the real business at hand. Continuing to fight will not accomplish that. Neither will divorce. There’s remarkably little this youngster can do about it, except to not do everything His Majesty just suggested. But she mustn’t blame herself if they split anyway. Children are not responsible for adults who fail to recognize and do their duty.

*His Majesty prefers cloning. He believes it affords superior quality control.

Comments (3)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , ,
May 23rd, 2015 21:20:11
3 comments

G.
May 24, 2015

Perhaps Dear Abby could give me some usage advice. Is it correct to say that His Majesty is in rare form when he’s always in rare form? Two gems here:

*Clothes serve many important functions other than getting in the way of casual sex.*

*Reading a good book lasts a lot longer, it’s not nearly as messy, and it rarely has awkward long-term consequences.*

That last sounds like something Dr. Johnson would have said.

It occurs to me that putting the onus on the child is a lot like democracy’s theory that the responsibility for good government is on the voter.


Commander Heep
May 26, 2015

I find populations are easier to control when they learn early on to avoid dealing with difficult situations. That way, whenever you need to control someone, you simply exert mild discomfort on the individual (or population at large, as it may be).


Zen
May 31, 2015

“Reading a good book lasts a lot longer, it’s not nearly as messy, and it rarely has awkward long-term consequences.”

You know, I used to make fun of people who read Tolkien.

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