Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Just Say No To Sanctimonious Rants – by Kate Paulk

(Kate is my sister from another mother. She is one of the nicest people I know — until she comes across someone climbing on their soapbox without doing adequate research. That is especially true when they are trying to talk about the evils of a bit of coding and they don’t take the time to research the topic. You see, Kate’s 9 – 5 job is to test coding and tell programmers where they’ve gone wrong. Add that to a healthy Aussie sense of humor and snark and you get the following post.)

For a variety of reasons I found myself over at the site with the jammies looking at one of their subleading lights (actually, this one, to judge by the quality of the prose and the abysmal excuse for research (no, it is not research if you pull it from parts of your anatomy best not mentioned in polite society) doesn’t even rate as a dim bulb) ranting about Pokemon Go in the guise of parental advice and concern for The Children.

So I decided, screw it, I’m going to fisk.

Original text is in italics. My commentary is not.

Pokemon Go is sweeping the nation. Millions of kids and adults are wandering around town staring at their phones (even more than usual) trying to capture Pokemon monsters, or something.

Two sentences and I know where this is going. Anyone unfortunate enough to read this piece is going to be subjected to a screaming hissy fit about the Evils of Gaming and – this being nominally a parenting column (it even has Parents: in the title) – a whole lot of raving For The Children!

For the interested: take note of the verbiage here. This is a classic piece of framing the narrative, first by the hyped claims about the popularity of the game, and then the way it’s being belittled. Now, I’m the first to admit that a parenting advice column is going to have a lot of opinion in it, but taking snide pot-shots at others is, in most venues, considered bad form (of course, for a fisking, it’s pretty much de-rigeur).

Parents are thrilled that kids are out walking the neighborhood instead of sitting in front of a screen (although one could argue that only the location has changed).

 Well, yes, one could argue that only the location has changed, but one would be committing a rather grave error in fact if one did. Walking is not the same as sitting, and no amount of opinion is going to change that. Clearly, our sage advice columnist isn’t quite sage enough to avoid the trap of the dangling participle – and it’s a bracketed participle at that, which makes the error even more egregious.

Yes, the location of the screen has changed. Is she saying that kids are out sitting the neighborhood with that parenthetical asside? (okay, that was a real typo, but too apt to edit out. So “asside” stays. If you don’t like it, this is my middle finger).

 And who am I to stand in the way of kids getting out and walking?

 Oh, dear. Dearie dearie me. Megan, sweetie, better writers than you have tried that rhetorical device and failed. You are not covering yourself with glory here – and I haven’t finished wading through your first paragraph yet.

 Satire sites are having a heyday with the new app, skewering Twitter posters who have sore legs for the first time in years from accidentally getting exercise. Seems harmless, even useful, right?

 What seems harmless or even useful? Skewing complaining Twitters (or is that Twits? I might have a Twitter account but the last time I used it was two or three computers ago, so I’m really not familiar with the thing. As you might guess, I’m a tad on the wordy side)? I’m sure that’s a lot of fun, but it doesn’t seem all that useful to me.

Yes, yes, all right. I know she meant that the game seems harmless or maybe even useful. But damn it, she’s getting paid for this: she could at least get the basic grammar right and not post crap with unclear antecedents.

 And so I downloaded it.

Which “it”? I’m risking the ultimate doom of every grammar snark (it being an unbreakable Rule that any snarking of grammar or spelling will have at least one egregious error), but ye gods. This isn’t an article or even an opinion piece. It’s got the same freaking cadence as the Nuremberg Rally, starting with apparently reasonable statements and ratcheting up the tension and paranoia at every turn. The address for the rally had a better speechwriter, though (and no, translations don’t do it justice. Something like that you need the cadence of the original language. Um. Excuse me while I go bludgeon my inner history nerd, my inner propaganda nerd, and my inner grammar nerd. They’re getting out of hand).

 I gave in to the peer pressure from every radio station DJ who said I had to have it.

 There is so much wrong with this sentence it transcends wrongitude. And if wrongitude isn’t a word it bloody well should be. What kind of mature adult gives into peer pressure from freaking radio DJs? I’ll concede the possibility that a lot of DJs were pushing the game (you know, Pokemon Go), either because they love it themselves or – more likely – their station was paid rather a lot to push Pokemon Go at every opportunity. I don’t listen to radio, so I wouldn’t know what’s being said.

However, on the rare occasions I find myself forced to watch or listen to ads, I am quite capable of resisting their siren call, taking said siren call and shoving it somewhere dark and uncomfortable for the advertiser. Metaphorically speaking. Methinks if the above is a factual statement, Fraulein Fox devotes a little too much time and attention to commercial media.

 My kids don’t have phones, but I thought maybe I would let them use my phone when we were out and about to capture a few Pokemon critters.

 Really? That sounds like a rather sad after the fact justification to me. You are allowed to admit you were just a teensy bit curious about this game that’s driving the whole country (to borrow your overblown rhetoric for a bit) wild, you know. People might actually have a bit more respect for you if you aren’t hiding behind a lame “oh, it’s for my kids” line.

 And shortly after installing it, I came to my senses.

 This statement is either a lie or delusional. Possibly both. You see, it’s quite possible to tell before you download and install a game what permissions it wants. You don’t have to install the thing to discover it requires you to sacrifice your first-born… Oh, in your next sentence you say it didn’t ask for your first born as a blood sacrifice, just your soul. Lame. No first-rate game asks for so little: every game company knows souls aren’t worth the effort these days. They’re all pre-mortgaged to caffeine.

 The app wants total control over my camera, my video, my GPS, my Google account, my emails, my photos, my soul and God knows what else.

Witness, all, the attempt at humorous hyperbole landing smack on its face because of the simple factual error in the first five words. The app does not want anything. In order to function as programmed, the application requires certain permissions. Those permissions do not amount to “total control” of anything. Honestly, folks, if you have to pontificate about something, it really helps to know what the heck you’re talking about, or you’ll just make yourself look like a complete idiot to anyone who does know the facts.

And while you – and everyone else – have every right to your opinion, however ludicrous it may be, you do not have the right to your very own set of facts. Reality is a bitch that way.

 Why are we all voluntarily signing up to be tracked everywhere we go?

 Ah, yes. I was right. This is indeed a Nuremberg Rally style deal, and we’re moving into the frothing hysteria. Of course, Freulein Fox doesn’t have the ability to make her audience come on the spot (yes, this is allegedly something that happened at those big swastika-enhanced dos), so instead it comes out kind of shrill and silly.

Oh, and the answer to the question? Some people think that what they’re getting in return for letting applications track them via GPS is worth the loss of privacy. You know, the everyone benefits thing that happens in a free market? Theoretically, anyway, since the only free markets around right now are kind of… er… black.

 Not only are we laying bare our every move to who knows who, it is every pedophile’s dream come true.

 Wow. I’m impressed. It took this long to bring out the pedophile bogeyman.

The who knows who part, if the app has been written properly, its data collection is limited to some kind of installation identifier that has zero connection to the person using the phone. It should communicate with every other app it uses (and the phone hardware) by a little bit of arcane software magic called an API.

And, sweetie, APIs are everywhere. They’re only insecure if they’re badly written, and they’re not about “laying bare our every move to who knows who” (incidentally, ‘who’ is likely to be ‘nobody’ unless, again, it’s written badly. Even Google’s location service doesn’t know who is holding the phone. It only knows where the phone has been. If it was turned on in the first place).

 Already teens are being lured into abandoned parking lots where they are then robbed.

 And this is different from a normal day how?

 Other outlets are reporting zombie-like people, not paying attention to anything but their phones, wandering onto private property without realizing it, blocking driveways and scaring people.

Apparently there are some pretty wussy people out there, if someone obsessed with a phone is scary. Oh, and this is different from a normal day how?

 (In Texas, Missouri, Arizona and anywhere else with castle laws, this could be a deadly activity since homeowners have the right to use deadly force on trespassers.)

 Error of fact. And a damn great big one, at that. Every state with a castle law has this concept called “reasonable force”, and killing trespassers who aren’t brandishing a weapon at you and posing an imminent threat doesn’t count as ‘reasonable’ anywhere that actually has a functioning rule of law (I am aware this rules out much of Chicago, Detroit, and a variable and ever-expanding radius around certain politicians).

False assertions work against propagandizing, Freulein. There needs to be enough fact underpinning your claims to make them believable. This particular little gem fails on every count and is likely to be believed only by raving leftists and paranoiacs. Maybe. If they’re having a particularly bad day.

 Kids don’t need Pokemon Go to get exercise because they should be spending their days up trees and at the beach and hiking in the woods.

 So just what is the difference between spending your day up trees and at the beach and hiking in the woods while playing a game on your phone and doing exactly the same thing while not playing a game on your phone? In terms of exercise gained, buggerall. In terms of interaction with like-minded souls, well… Sweetie, not all kids have the good fortune to have friends in their neighborhood. Are you going to keep them from interacting with their friends who live hundreds of miles away because you believe this game is a bad thing?

If you are – and the whole damn article is nothing but a badly disguised rant on the topic of “phone games Bad. For The Children!Eleventy!” – then you should fit right in with everyone else trying to force the rest of the world to follow their enlightened ways because “It’s for your own good”.

What happened to limiting screen time as much as possible?

 It turned out that, like everything, balance works better. You know, mixing it up a bit.

 It’s not good for human brains!

 Someone would appear to have mixed up the problems that come from passively soaking up the content of the idiot box (which, again, is perfectly fine in moderation, and doesn’t even need to be rationed as long as there are plenty of other enjoyable activities around) and having no parental discussion of said content with the rather more engaged processes that go with computer games of all flavors.

 Study after study shows this is true.

 Then why, my dear, did you neglect to reference more than one or two rather sub-par articles about such studies?

Electronics interfere with sleep cycles, are connected to depression, and contribute to the general malaise plaguing children who can’t seem to get off the couch.

And yet you rant against a game that works to get children up off their duffs and outside in the debatably fresh air. Which is just the beginning of the things wrong with your assertions.

To start with, those studies you’re referencing are looking at excess or outright stupidity. Of course if you leave an electronic device that lights up (however dimly) in your bedroom you’re going to affect your sleep pattern. In the immortal words of damn near every teenage girl ever, “Duh”.

As for the connection to depression, it’s rather clear you’re not actually reading it, Megan. Otherwise you’d have realized that the researchers don’t know if the connection is causal, much less which direction the cause runs. In smaller words, that means depressed people could be playing games to distract themselves. You know, the same way in times past depressed people would do things like read?

As for the “general malaise” claim, believing everything someone on the internet says is a really bad idea. Honestly, this sentence reads more like the kind of scam that uses links to scary-sounding articles to convince some sucker… customer to buy the kool-aid.

 Have parents abandoned their inherent distrust of screens? When did that happen?

Let’s do a little word replacement exercise here, shall we? On second thoughts, let’s not. Just imagine what it would look like if you replaced “parents” with “Germans” or “blacks” or “whites”. And “screens” with “Jews” or “whites” or “blacks”. If you still think this isn’t hysterical ranting, you need remedial English.

 Now, the newest electronic craze seems sure to send your child directly into harm’s way.

 Hardly. Kids who were glued to their phone screen before Pokemon Go will do the same dumb stuff as they did before installing the game. And that’s before applying the commonsense filter of “the media will link anything they can to the hot new craze to get clicks” otherwise known as exactly what our good author is doing here: using the game in a title as clickbait for an otherwise bald and unconvincing tirade.

 If you still think Pokemon is a must have for this summer, think again.

 Oh, the assumptions buried in this one sentence. The judgment. The rancid, unmitigated superiority. Ye dogs, the poor perv this author found jacking off to porn in a public library (not something I would normally approve of – or ever, really) should have withered and melted under her steely glare. Or something.

 Do your kids a favor and give them a 1985-style summer.

 Someone’s got to say it. Judging by the tone of the article, this should be a 1984-style summer, under the benevolent, watchful gaze of Big Sister.

Drink out of the hose, ride your bike just for the pleasure of the wind in your face, and leave the phones at home.

These are my middle fingers. I will do what I think is appropriate, and you madam, can take your sanctimonious pap and shove it right beside that massive stick you have up your fundamental orifice.

 (For the curious – the original article can be found at https://archive.is/mVtNX)

***

Amanda here, now.

I wanted to add a quick counterpoint to the original article as well. What the author seems to overlook is that Pokemon Go! can and is being used as a socialization tool. Families that weren’t spending all that much time together, and especially not outside, are now going on hunts together. Communities are putting together activities for all ages so they can hunt those ever elusive Pokemon, find Pokemon gyms, etc. Yes, there are some areas asking you not to hunt on their grounds and I have no problem with it. But zoos, parks, even some museums are greeting those who are using the app with open arms and encouraging them to attend events at their locations.

In other words, as with everything, the key is educating yourself and your kids and using common sense.

One more quick note, for those of you who don’t know, Kate is also an author with a wicked sense of humor. The series we are all after her to write more in is her Con series. I’ve linked to the first book in the series below.

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

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10 Comments

  1. Tom

    A couple of points toward the original article as well.

    First, screen time. My son has been clued to his computer, Kindle, or cell phone almost non-stop for years. He’s a well adjusted 15 year old who will be starting his sophomore year of high school…and his freshman year of college. Sorry, but screen time does not equal doom.

    Second, most of her concerns about kids playing these games can be overcome with the one thing she should have been aware of: parenting. If you have taught your children to be aware of their surroundings, not to trespass, etc, then you have nothing to worry about. So far, all of the accidents tied to Pokemon Go really boil down to someone being stupid.

    Every crime attributed to Pokemon Go has been a case of being opportunistic, true, but how is using a Pokestop — a place in the game where you can get goodies — as a place to lay in wait for a target any different than using a mall parking lot, or an ATM machine as your hunting grounds? To the criminal, it’s not. Again, be aware of your surroundings. Robbers hate that crap.

    This particular article was referred to as “hysterical nonsense” and it is, unfortunately. It’s fear mongering about the latest fad, and for someone who ostensibly is a conservative, it takes responsibility for problems away from the people truly responsible and puts it on something that has no free will of its own. It smacks of the whole “rock music is satanic” nonsense of decades gone by.

    • karllembke

      I’ve heard that brain scans of kids in front of computer or video game screens show elevated levels of activity in the frontal lobes. They’re extremely engaged and their thought processes are going a mile a minute. This is very different from zoning out in front of a TV set.
      Apparently not all screen time is created equal.

  2. ‘Pokemon Go! can and is being used as a socialization tool. Families that weren’t spending all that much time together, and especially not outside, are now going on hunts together. Communities are putting together activities for all ages so they can hunt those ever elusive Pokemon, find Pokemon gyms, etc. ”

    According to my local news, DC Park Rangers are working on plans to use the game to their advantage, to help teach tourists more about DC. Not my ball of yarn, but if it works, go for it.

  3. What happened to limiting screen time as much as possible?

    It was unsupported fecal matter pushed by those pretending that ’60s and ’70s pop studies on putting kids in front of a TV for all their free time was 100% transferable to interactive formats, because there was a screen involved.

    When some idiot is trying to insist that reading is bad, because it’s on a screen and we must limit screen time, it’s jumped the shark.

  4. Do your kids a favor and give them a 1985-style summer.

    Oh, that just begs for a musical interlude:

  5. So . . . she wants kids out riding bikes without helmets, climbing trees without safety nets . . . and maybe even . . . gasp! Getting out of the sight of their parents?

    How utterly, refreshingly, Libertarian!

  6. My elder, asperger’s girl wants to go out walking and visiting outdoor places, with me. Yes, she’s still doing something with a computer, but she’s interacting with the real, physical world at the same time. This is good. My younger, normal annoying teen who wants to spend time with me so she can ignore me in person (and who gets upset if I don’t spend enough time with her so she can do just that) has had long in depth conversations with me while hunting. She also tells me about what she and her friends did on their hunting trips, and doesn’t get all annoyed and huffy when I ask her about it.

    The author of the original article sounds like someone who has to find things to rant about, and if it’s popular it’s more automatically more rant worthy – a sort of virtue signalling. If Pokemon Go was not getting the mass usage, she’d probably have been ranting at us for *not* using it.

  7. naleta

    I’ve been playing Pokemon Go (when the servers aren’t overloaded) and I noticed that my home town has tons of Pokestops. There were a lot of people out at 10pm Thursday night and Friday night just hunting Pokemon and chatting with friends and strangers about the game. I think it’s a Good Thing that’s happening. Even though I’ve heard comments from non-players about there being better things to do with oneself, it’s an overall positive as far as I’m concerned.

  8. imnohbody

    Fortunately for my keyboard, I managed to turn my head enough to not spit-take all over it at the “pre-mortgaged to caffeine” line. It was the nearest run thing you ever saw though, to borrow from Wellington.

  9. reminds me of the brouhaha a few years ago about Elf On a Shelf teaching kids that surveillance is acceptable.

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