Focus on the Wrong Issues

The other day as I was driving to the store, I flipped on the little local Christian station I’ve recently discovered. The DJ’s were happy, the pastor clips were enthusiastic, the music was good. Then a new block came on, and the most joyless, hang-dog-sounding people came on and started talking about following the Lord. About this time I arrived at the store and missed most of the program. When I came back, the same joyless people were soberly discussing broken homes and no-fault divorce, and healing from that. Then it finished up, and it had been Focus on the Family.

Oh. Of course. No wonder I got such a bad taste in my mouth.

Then yesterday my mother-in-law handed me a copy of Thriving Family, and I groaned. I’d somehow wound up on their mailing list before, and I’d skim their articles on parenting and make sure I was doing exactly the opposite. I’ve griped on here before about that magazine, and how kids are treated like this bizarre experiment to be poked and prodded and observed.

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So, just for laughs, I picked it up and started flipping through to see what gems of wisdom ol’ hangdog Focus on the Family had for the summer of 2013. I happened across an article called Caught in the Web. The first paragraph was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

When Kelly wasn’t in school, she was constantly checking Facebook to keep up with the events in her teen world. Jason’s mom recognized his online addiction when he continually created videos late into the night, regardless of house rules. Chris enjoyed online courses but easily got pulled into role-playing games–his mother confesses that it wasn’t long before Chris was addicted to them. For teens, Internet obsessions and addictions come in many forms, including blogs, gambling, social news sites, social media sites, gaming, pornography and more.

Don’t you love how porn and gambling are lumped in with all the rest?

Let’s take it one point at a time. Hanging out on Facebook? How many adults here do that? *raises hand*

Creating videos long into the night? Number one, the kid’s being creative. Number two, people can make money off their videos. He may have been building his video backlog to increase his earnings! Addiction? No, JOB!

Doing online courses and being distracted by role-playing games? This smells of over-achieving parent pushing their kid too hard, and he’s sliding off into games because his brain is burning out. Notice it’s the mother confessing her son’s addiction, not her son.

The article goes on to talk about how the American Psychiatric Association MIGHT include Internet Use Disorder in the next issue of their manual. Meaning it’s one more made-up malady they can sell drugs for.

In typical Focus on the Family style, it goes on to diagnose a teen from a clinical, distant point of view. Is your teen (that strange animal) having problems in their distant teen world, like boredom or being bullied? How should the parent know, anyway? No parent in their right mind associates with their teen children in any capacity, especially not in open communication.

Signs of addiction:

  • Craving more time on the Internet
  • Lying to conceal extent of involvement
  • Using the internet to escape or relieve feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness or depression
  • Displaying irritability when attempting to cut back
  • Neglecting friends and family
  • Withdrawing from other activities
  • Neglecting sleep to stay online
  • Under-performing at work or school
  • Showing physical changes in weight or care of self

All of us adults do those things. I believe I’ve seen a Facebook meme pic about every single one of these.

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The article suggests taking away the kid’s internet, ipods and cellphones. Or installing heavy filtering software. Because, as a teen who learned how to turn all the filters off, that’s a fool-proof way of keeping your trained monkey off Facebook! HA!

They also suggest getting a shrink, so your kid can burn thousands of your dollars complaining about what a horrible parent you are.

Having interacted with lots of these “addicted” teens and being “heavily addicted” myself, I think half the time it’s the jerk parents’ fault for being such an overbearing snot that the kid flees their presence as fast as possible.

It’s also possible that the kid is being really creative. I shudder to think how much time I spent writing (longhand) and typing up stories. Or drawing. What about the teens learning to compose music for Overclocked Remix, or making trippy remix videos of their favorite shows (“They’re taking the Hobbits to Isengard!”) And you stay up late to do that because it’s the only time the house is quiet and your dang mom doesn’t keep barging in to tell you to get off.

Having been heavily into raiding in World of Warcraft in my youth, I also understand that. When you commit to raiding with a guild, they give you a list of obligations you have to meet. It’s like job training. You show up on time, with the correct gear, you perform a job, you adapt to sudden changes, you interact with your guild mates and settle squabbles.

Once again, Focus on the Family has written a great article for parents to use as ammunition against their children. Slow clap, Focus. Slow clap.

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Dabbling in other genres

I’ve been writing Spacetime stories for a while now, with a few fanfics tossed in here and there. Spacetime being urban fantasy, after a while it kind of feels like a rut. I’m rewriting book 3 right now–the original draft had no concept of scenes and sequels, and was really boring–and enjoying it a lot.

But I’ve had this other story chewing on the back of my consciousness. Ever since I read Diana Wynne Jone’s book Reflections, with all her essays on writing, I’ve wanted to try some of her techniques. One of them is to look at what everybody else is writing, turn it sideways ninety degrees, and write it different.

I had so much fun writing my Zombies and Unicorns story (I thought I hated zombies, until I found out how easy they are to write), that I figured I’d tackle something else I dislike. I really don’t like vampires.

So I started thinking about what might make me pick up a vampire book off the shelf. Maybe if it had a dragon on the cover. What if there was a vampire who could only bite dragons?

This simple question led to a whole slew of others–I had to come up with an “monovorous” vampire that could only feed upon one host. There had to be a reason for this dragon to be hanging out on Earth disguised as a human. There had to be some kind of opposing faction, and vampire hunters are overdone–so what if the entire military is vampire-based and all vampires are heavily monitored by the government? Oh yeah, now we’re cooking.

I’m posting up a chapter at week on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/5930952-dragonblood-vampire

This gives me plenty of time to write other projects over the course of the week, and dabble in this fun, new genre on weekends. I’m really trying to make it action-movie, with impossible fight scenes where they punch a guy and he flies through one side of a building and out the other. Awww yeah.

Anyway, it’s fun to dabble in other genres. Kind of refreshing to the brain. I’m sure this story will eventually tie into the Spacetime universe–I know I’m already dealing with at least two parallel worlds–but in a very sidestory sort of way. No Strider of Chronos is going to bail out my vampire hero. He’s going to have to save his own neck, and possibly the necks of everyone he cares about.

Thankful

I was emailing with my mom tonight, and she reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for. I haven’t done a thankful post in a while, so here goes!

For my sweet family and all the things they do.

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For this big apartment.
For a washing machine.
For the kids’s room, separate from our room.

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For the wonderful communication of the internet, complete with mail, instant messages and video for families who are spread out.
For dry, hot boring weather, when so many other people are under threat of tornadoes and other severe weather.
Although they do have tornadoes out here in the desert sometimes.
For the myriad opportunities surrounding my husband right now.

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For happy kids.
For a wonderful, blessed swimming pool.
For air conditioning.

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For great memories, and photos of them.
For blogs, which are like the easiest scrapbook ever.