Thirteen Reasons to Kill Yourself

At one point, the main character skipped a shower, and for the rest of the episode, everybody he walked near would wrinkle their noses and fan the air.

It was supposed to be comedic relief, I think.

But THAT pretty much sums up what’s wrong with Netflix’s new series “Thirteen Reasons Why,” about a teen who committed suicide.

The entire plot is every teenager’s irrational fears, taken seriously:

“Yes–everyone knows you didn’t shower. They all think you stink!”

“Yes–that picture you don’t want anyone to see is a huge deal. Everyone is talking about it.”

“Yes–they’re staring.”

“Yes–it’s their fault you feel so bad about yourself.”

AND,  “Yes–if you kill yourself, then everyone will be sorry!”

A recent Rolling Stone Article asked the question, “Does ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ Glamorize Teen Suicide?”

And the answer is: unequivocally yes.

Hannah, the girl who took her own life, is also the narrator. So, the whole series is about her, despite the fact that a REAL suicide victim loses the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story.  (That’s one of the ways the series glamorizes suicide; it spreads the lie that you’ll be famous–and finally understood better–once you’re gone.)

Anyway, over and over and over, Hannah says things like, you think I’m overreacting…

You think I get my titties in a twist over the smallest drama…

You think I’m focusing on tiny things…

BUT

Here’s why you’re wrong…

You didn’t feel the stares…

You’ve never been in my situation…

Keep in mind, we know from the very beginning that this girl was unstable and took her own life.  But the creators still have a way of taking her perspective seriously. Whether intentionally or not, they seem to lend credibility to Hannah’s belief that her experiences were much different–much worse–than the “average,” everyday struggles that everyone else faces.

Here’s a direct quote, I transcribed from one of the episodes:

“You’re going to tell me this one is no big deal…but let me tell you about being lonely…I’m not talking ‘lonely in a crowd’ lonely. That’s everyone, every day. And it’s not ‘when will I find love’ lonely or ‘the popular kids are mean to me’ lonely. The popular kids are mean to everybody. It’s how they get popular… The kind of lonely I’m talking about is when you feel like you’ve got nothing left. Nothing and no one. “

 

In addition to agreeing with this irrational self-talk, this series tries to convince us that hardcore violence has reached an epidemic in American high schools, and most teenagers are (understandably) on the brink of suicide.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how this show needs to be required-viewing for parents, to open a dialog with their teens about what really happens in schools today.

But I just keep thinking–really?

REALLY, really???

Does this series accurately portray a typical high school experience? Or is it exactly like every other highly-dramatized teen fantasy, where adult actors pretend to be class-skipping, drug-using 15-year-olds?

Cheerleaders are drinking hard liquor out of their canteens at practice? REGULARLY?

Kids are throwing underage drinking parties, while their parents are out of town, and none of the adults have any idea?  (I mean, hasn’t that been a plot point in every, single teen drama, since the 80’s? Do we really need this one to warn us?)

And–let’s talk about the fact that not one, but TWO girls were graphically raped within weeks of each other.  (Both times were on the properties of good, loving, married parents, who simply missed the fact that at least 100 drunk teens had completely trashed their house and yard while every grown-up nearby had inexplicably “left town for a couple of days.”)

Let’s be honest, parents. If the average sophomore is buying his own booze and smoking weed and having reckless sex, just to cope with the damaging things he’s witnessing at that place we send him to study but, instead, he and his peers do nothing except congregate in the halls and swear and fight, then we’ve got a problem that a Netflix series isn’t going to solve.

Maybe we should stop leaving the country and letting our kids drive our cars or ride their bikes or walk all over town at all hours of the night, and start thinking about homeschooling.

Seriously.

The picture painted by “Thirteen Reasons Why” is that American highschools have literally become tiny Sodom’s and Gomorrah’s, with students lucky to make it out unharmed.  

If that’s true, it’s child-abuse to send a teenager there.

But if, on the other hand, this show is a fictionalized story, meant to entertain, then we should stop giving it credit for telling some sort of eye-opening truth.

“Thirteen Reasons Why” is rated TV-MA, for mature audiences, because it’s utterly full of profanity and graphic sexual content.  So, if you’re going to watch it with an older teenager, use caution.

In fact, unless you’re certain that your kid already participates in dangerous, illegal things, I’m not sure why you’d want to expose him to it on-screen at all. Why plant those mental images?

It brings up an interesting dilemma, doesn’t it?  Because, while MOST teens aren’t attending wild parties where someone gets raped or killed, we must realize that most teens are consuming that stuff every, single day, in movies that normalize it…

Disguised as a great conversation-starter to solve a problem, I think it’s more likely that “Thirteen Reasons Why” actually contributes to the issues of desensitization and reprogramming of youth through violent media.

“High school is a death trap.”

“Suicide is understandable.”

“Rape is everywhere. Here, watch.”

“This is what suicide looks like. Here watch.”

“It’s normal…it’s everywhere…it’s probably happening to your teen…”

Maybe those things aren’t happening now. But they certainly will be, if we continue filling young minds with those messages.

They’re Right. That’s Stupid.

I was pointed to the blog of a former-Christian (now Atheist) to read an interesting quote:

“If I were still a Christian, I’d most likely be on my knees every night… in constant “conversation” with God, asking “Him” to make everything “work” for us to buy this home (which, of course, involves selling our current home and getting the price we need)…”

The majority of my readership is Christian, so I have to ask. Does that sound familiar?

Do you ask God to make everything “work” for you?

Here’s more:

“The question is primarily directed to ex-Christians, since you’re the ones who in a past life (like me) probably asked/begged God to make things “work” … to make everything “come together” and grant the desires of your heart…”

I’m not going to address this blogger’s “question,” because my dad already has an Atheist Advice Column, and I’d rather let him tackle that.  (Edit: His advice post is here.)

Instead, I’m writing to the Christians who still sound like this Atheist used to sound…

Do you think God is waiting to grant the desires of your heart?

When a friend is struggling with something they really want, do you share stuff like this?

 

Or maybe you’re fond of saying things like, “Keep lookin’ up!”

or “God’s got you covered!”

or “Get ready for a blessing!”

 

If these are your go-to cliches when you’re trying to be helpful, stop.

Please, stop.

It’s not helpful.

Your Osteen-inspired T-shirt wisdom is shallow and naive and not Christian.

That religion might work to help a 10-year-old feel better about a disappointing grade on a test, but it’s not good for much else.

Although you can convince a child that life is all about wishing really hard for something from the Great Genie, eventually that concept of God is supposed to grow up.

The former-Christians who mock the way they used to beg for goodies from God are right. That’s ridiculous.

What many professing Christians are practicing is called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism“–because they have virtually no need for God, except to solve their (usually self-caused) problems.

“Please pray for my boyfriend to get out of jail.”

“Please ask God to help us find a house we want.”

“I’m asking for prayers because we’re going through a lot right now, and we just need peace.”

And, of course, all the professing Christians respond:

“Praying!”

“God is in control!”

“Everything will be fine!” (Which means, “You’ll get everything you’re hoping for, if you fold your hands and say ‘Amen’ enough.”)

Again–it’s shallow and childish and useless.   If THAT’S all that happens when Christians get together to share wisdom, then the Atheists are correct when they decide they don’t need it.

The human relationship with God isn’t about asking Daddy to make life comfortable.

Therefore, we’re not helping anyone with our air-headed promises that he’s going to “come through” and give our friend everything she thinks she needs.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is selfish and stupid.

So can we stop selling it?

Don’t Trust Your Partner

I read this sage cliche in a Twitter feed this morning:

“Trust is very important. No relationship can survive without it!”

The context?  Folks were discussing this bombshell revelation from a White House reporter on Twitter…

So, the VP doesn’t go to parties where alcohol is served, without taking his wife for accountability. He also doesn’t take other women to dinner alone.

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about–except that Mike Pence is a favorite punching bag of Regressive Liberals.  Having boundaries in a relationship shows respect for your spouse and shouldn’t be ridiculed by someone older than about 14.    (What is this, a middle school cafeteria?)

Pence didn’t say every relationship should have the same policy.  He just explained what he and his wife do.

But, nevertheless, the monkeys chattered:

 

And so, the buzzword of the day is “Trust.”  Is it totally fine for politicians to go out to dinner, one-on-one, with a woman who isn’t a family member?

Or do rules against solo interactions reveal a “lack of trust” in your spouse/yourself/others?

I would say yes, it does show a lack of trust, in a certain sense.  

But, I don’t believe that “trust” is the MOST IMPORTANT component of a relationship. I think wisdom and discernment and practicality are all important, too. And that’s where the modern relationship advice-givers are wrong.

Do I trust my husband?

Depends on the situation.

Based on experience, I can trust that Luke will do a great job with any plumbing or electrical projects he undertakes in our home.  I trust him to make very tasty quesadillas…to keep our kids fed and happy when I need to go somewhere…to forgive me when we’ve had a fight…

I do NOT trust my husband to drive late at night on very little sleep.

Again, experience has taught me.  Since I love my husband and don’t want him to end up dead in a ditch, I’m aware of this weakness he has.

“Don’t tell yourself you’re fine to drive if you’re not!  Just pull over if necessary…”   –Me, not trusting my husband.

On a similar note, when we first got married, I didn’t trust Luke to hear his alarm in the morning.  I lost track of the number of times he was late to work or church or something else, because he would make compromises and tell himself he was “getting up,” until, eventually, he fell unconscious again.

It was a big problem early in our relationship.

But, in the last few years, he has gotten much better about waking up. (I can’t even remember the last time he was late to work.)   Thus, he has gained my trust in this area.

 

Knowing my husband helps me understand the places he can/can’t be trusted. Loving my husband inspires me to help him grow in the areas he is weak.  (And love also requires me to be honest about MY weaknesses with HIM, so we can work on those, too.)

Love doesn’t mean wearing blinders and pretending people are trustworthy if they’re not.

“Love” doesn’t mean Mrs. Pence should ignore the mountains of evidence that politicians don’t always choose wisely, when they’re left alone in the company of female colleagues.

 

 

 

Love doesn’t mean playing stupid!

Use your head.  People have affairs.  That actually happens.

So, a wise individual will do what he/she can to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.


 

What kind of person mocks someone for taking precautions against bad behavior?

Would we ridicule a recovering alcoholic for refusing to take even cold medicine?

Do we think it’s weird and creepy if someone addicted to pornography asks someone to put a password on their computer?

I think the people who know their weaknesses and take active steps to combat them deserve our respect.  Certainly, they have earned more “trust,” than the person demanding the benefit of the doubt and labeling your concerns as paranoia.

Society is filled with infidelity and failing marriages, but we still think a healthy couple simply pretends that isn’t reality. Love means living as though your significant other is incapable of making mistakes. (And, if temptations arise, then it wasn’t Real Love to begin with. That’s what we think!)

But, I’m not buying that.

I’m suspicious of someone who won’t make even the smallest sacrifice (like avoiding solo-dinners) to demonstrate their goodwill and character. Something so easy!

 

“Don’t tell yourself you’re fine to have dinner with “just a friend,” if you’re not.  Don’t have dinner with anyone, alone, if necessary…”    –Me, not trusting humans in general.

 

 

Parenting Fail: A Stranger Found My Child

Yesterday, I wrote about the way we encourage each other to be afraid of everything, by spreading our “scary stories” of things that could go wrong–even when our stories amount to nothing but a feeling we had about a guy at the store.

We lament “You can’t trust anyone.”  And then we confirm it to ourselves over and over, by focusing like lasers on the creepy, scary, worst-cases.

We actively teach ourselves (and our children) to see everyone as a potential-killer, and then we assure each other it’s necessary; we have to do that…because strangers are dangerous.

But, what happens when someone needs help, with no one but a stranger around?

A few weeks ago, my parenting fail could have become a scary Facebook warning…but it didn’t.

—–

I was teaching school to my oldest daughter, Cami, at my parents’ house, where we go two days a week.

Cami’s best buddy, Olivia, lives on the same block and is also homeschooled, so the girls do their school together on those days.  I had just finished their lessons, so they asked to walk back to Olivia’s house together.

They had done this dozens of times.

The backyards of the two houses practically touch each other.  Usually they go out the backdoor of one house, across the alley, and into the backyard of the other.

What I didn’t realize was Olivia’s back gate was locked…

This wasn’t a problem for Olivia. She took Cami around to the front door, and then said goodbye.  But, the detour got Cami all turned around because, apparently, she has the same directional sense as her father.  😉

Trying to get back to her grandparents’ house, Cami ended up crossing a steet, and then another…and another. Meanwhile, I was waiting for her, unaware I should be concerned yet!

About 15 minutes later, there was a knock on the front door, and Cami was standing with a woman I’d never seen before.

“She was running down the sidewalk crying,”  the lady explained.

Uh… say, what???   I struggled to wrap my mind around the mental image.

“She got lost? How?  WHERE?”

“We found her about three blocks away,” the lady pointed East. “At first, she didn’t want to talk to me, but she did great. She knew her name and your name–and what color the house was…”

I focused my attention on Cami, “Why did you cross the street, baby? You’ve walked back and forth from Olivia’s house lots of times!”    (Eventually, we worked out that the gate had been locked.)

I was still in shock, but I thanked the woman and assured her we’d be more careful in the future.  And then my mind started playing all the “What If” scenarios.

My baby was just holding hands with a stranger…she told the stranger her name and age and where she lived… she got in the stranger’s car!!!

Oh my goodness!!!!

It was nauseating, until I realized…if she hadn’t done those things, she’d still be lost.

The Kind Stranger made sure that something much, much worse didn’t happen.

Consider the story told by Ken Davis, of losing his granddaughter in the mountains.  (Get the tissues.)  That little girl had been lost for hours, and still her first words to the couple that found her were, “I can’t talk to you.”

Thank God those Kind Strangers still worked to gain her trust and then reunited her with her family.

Later on the afternoon of Cami’s ordeal, I noticed a missed call from what looked like a spam account on Facebook.

“Who in the world is Tiffany?”  I asked out loud.  “Probably a scam caller trying to get money.”

But Cami corrected me.

“Tiffany is that girl who found me.”

Suddenly, that weird, suspicious call from a stranger meant something totally different. “The Stranger” had a name.

I sent Tiffany a message thanking her again for taking care of my girl when I wasn’t there.
And, far from asking for money, she responded:

No problem, I’m glad I could help! I have a son her age and I know how their minds wander. LOL 🙂 please tell her she did an excellent job answering my questions… I hope if my son was ever in that position that he would do as well as she did.

Sometimes strangers are teachers.

Sometimes strangers are doctors and police officers.

Many times, they’re also parents, who see the face of their own child when they look at yours in trouble.

Maybe I’m too trusting.  And maybe someday you’ll see my face on the news, having paid the ultimate price for letting my children explore their neighborhoods.

But I still believe it’s a shame that all strangers are treated with bad assumptions, based solely on the actions of a few.

There are some truly wonderful people in your community–probably more good ones than bad.  Most of us are just friends who don’t yet know each other’s names.

Yes, You CAN Be Too Careful

Am I the only one noticing an increase of warnings on Facebook, along the lines of “I SAW A CREEPY PERSON AND I’M POSITIVE HE/SHE WAS TRYING TO HURT ME”  ?

Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe the alarmist stories have been around a long time, and I’m just now paying attention.

Here’s an example from 2015:

 

And from 2016:

 

And one posted three days ago:

 

And let’s not forget the bad guys giving away free samples at Walmart, or the bad guys drugging people at Dillard’s, or the bad guys taking kids out of theme parks,  or the bad guy pulling people into white vans, or the bad guys posing as plumbers, or the bad guys posing at teen-employers...

Also, don’t accept candy.

And don’t accept business cards.

And even if someone SAYS they’re a kidnapper, you should still be suspicious.

 

 

In other words, trust no one. Then, when you have your own harrowing story of life-or-death (and you will!), make sure you share it with the world.

This was the near-miss I posted about today.

 

Now that I’m thinking about this, perhaps all of us should be especially distrustful of someone who worries about everything?

I mean, even if there isn’t a “bad guy” in the store–what if there’s a jumpy person nearby who thinks I’M the bad guy?

Women should carry pepper spray and handbags filled with rocks just in case.

If the stranger next to you spends too much time reading scary warnings on social media…and if you try to hand her a piece of gum or a business card…well, you see where I’m going with this.

You can’t be too careful!

Also–beware of a new scam. Psych professionals are diagnosing people with something called “paranoid personality disorder.”

Don’t fall for it.

This is What Equality Feels Like

You want to be treated like an equal in society?
This is how I treat everyone who makes his/her feelings the center of an issue:
It’s not about you.
Seriously, that’s what I say to everyone in our self-focused culture.
Mothers who want special treatment?
Americans who need protection from words?
Single people whose needs aren’t being met in some nonspecific way? (My own grandmother was upset with me over that one. But we were on the same page in the end!)
When I think people are wallowing in self-pity and trying to make the world revolve around them, I say something.
So, this is for you, people struggling with gay attraction.
It’s not about you.
My decision not to let my 5-year-old see the new Beauty and the Beast movie (featuring “Disney’s first openly-gay character”) has nothing to do with your feelings.
Which means I give about as much value to your feelings as I do my own.
This is what equality feels like.
I won’t be more diplomatic while I’m slaughtering your sacred cows than I have been with anyone else.
—–
This week, Christians have been told:
-“Stop freaking out” “calm down” and “chill out.”
-“Gay people exist…and in real life, people lie. People cheat. People steal. People have affairs and pre-marital sex.”
-Boycotting Beauty and the Beast will be “harmful to the Christian Gospel” because “[it] suggests Christians are offended by the existence of gay people – even if that’s not how the boycotter intends it.”
-Plus a bunch of other warnings that Christians are hypocrites for boycotting a movie over homosexuality, instead of treating it the same as any other sin.
…except, all the finger-wagging at Christians is proof that homosexuality is NOT exactly like every other sin.
Gayness is the exception because gayness is the sin that our culture is glad to endorse.
Consider that the director of the movie said, “This is part of a celebration of love.”
And the actor who plays the gay character said he was “honored” to be a part of the movie which others have called history-making.
Would there be this much fanfare surrounding Disney’s first portrayal of any other sexual preference? 
If a movie aimed at kids portrayed a character “struggling with his feelings” for a stripper, I think we’d see an outcry…but that would be especially true if the people who made the movie treated it like some sort of cultural milestone.
So, gay people, please don’t make this about your feelings.
And, Christians, please don’t fall for the bait-and-switch that homosexuality is no worse than other sins–when Hollywood actively promotes it as BETTER.
As I said on Facebook:
3.7.17 Beauty and the Beast

If you agree with that perspective, but you’re still making excuses for the normalization of homosexuality in Beauty and the Beast, then YOU are the hypocrite who expects special treatment for your favorite sin…

Or course, I agree that Christians ought to be consistent with their criticism.

So, I promise, the next time a director proudly announces the “first-ever character who looks at pornography,” I’ll be outspokenly against showing the film to my very young child.    (At least until her age is greater than the number of fingers on one hand.)

This is how I handle the ridiculous double-standards of liberal culture. Expecting me to make a special exception to spare the feelings of gay people would be unequal.

All Laws Are Religious

 

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I’m not even mad that people still throw around the “church and state” phrase without knowing where it comes from. (Go ahead: point to a law that says religion can’t influence laws. Go ahead.)

But, I’ll admit, it bugs me when people think their views on gay marriage and abortion don’t count as “religious,” just because they don’t believe in God.

Too many ignorant Americans actually believe there is such thing as a law that is non-religious.

There isn’t.

Because their opinion that there’s nothing wrong with same-sex marriage and abortion come from their moral beliefs, too…

Those opinions aren’t automatically logical and scientific and objective, just because you don’t believe in God.

All laws are about figuring out what’s right vs. what’s wrong, and that will always be a religious question.

So, please don’t share this meme, or mindlessly utter the phrase “separation of church and state,” anymore.  Please?

I get it. You don’t understand laws, and you’ve never read the Constitution (or anything longer than this blog post), and you think that when you quote your gay friend who had an abortion it makes your opinion more valuable than someone who quotes the Bible.

I understand.

But, you look silly, because your sense of morality comes from the religion of your culture, too.

Don’t believe me?

Go ahead and give me a non-religious reason to make gay marriage legal. Give me one non-religious reason to allow you to end the life of a healthy fetus.

Go ahead.