OT: Teen self-esteem builder turns into discussion on what a desperate person should do

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Rather off topic here, but do you know how sometimes you're talking to someone - let's say about a television show - and the conversation organically turns to discussions of life, the universe and everything, seemingly out of nowhere? Well, obviously with all the blabbing we all do on the Internet, sometimes talking just to ourselves, sometimes catching the ears of others, it can be a bit jarring to confront real issues in this generally anonymous place we colloquially call the Internet. Now, I've made my opinion on Internet anonymity clear before (i.e., I hate it, that's why I have been and always will be me, "Bill Loguidice") - and that's not what this is really about anyway - but after commenting on a blog post, Teen Self-Esteem Builder, at one of my favorite sites to visit, Awful Library Books, which points out library books in active circulation that need to be weeded (removed) from the shelves, the conversation turned very organic and very, very real. You see, as I'm often wont to do - whether it's warranted or not - I often inject my personal mantras/life lessons/lessons learned into my discussions on the Web.

Now, since I'm so conscious of it, I try to save it for special occasions for fear of becoming a real (bigger) bore, but in this case I believe it was warranted. Interestingly enough came comments from a young woman who I might think of as the anti-me, an unfortunate woman who has let adversity in her life overcome and seemingly consume her, with, from my vantage point, little hope of ever getting out it. I will not spoil the comments for you (please read them yourself if you're so moved), but it's interesting how they developed and what this woman, "Jamisings", believes. It saddens me that she has religion as a crutch, but is not able to reach into herself, dig deep and pull herself out of her despair through it. Now, of course, as a reformed Christian and present day Secular Humanist/Agnostic, I have little use for organized religion, but I would still hope that her faith - whatever it may be - would have given her more strength than it has. After all, a belief in something - even if it can't be the preferred belief in oneself and the power to at least handle, if not always overcome, adversity - should provide more strength than it seemingly has in this case. She also commented in her own blog, which you can also find a link to in the comments on the site.

So why am I speaking about this? I'm not sure, really, other than the fact that I've spoken to so few people like this who have seem to well and truly given up on themselves and what they can overcome and accomplish if they really, really wanted. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was moved (saddened) on some level. Of course, in my own life, I'm exceedingly blessed with good health, a loving family and fulfilling creative outlets, but that's also due in no small part to my taking the steps that I felt I needed to in my late teens and 20s to make that happen. I really, really wanted it, worked at it, and got it. No amount of hoping or outside assistance would have gotten any of that for me. I hope "Jamisings" can find some of that power, whatever her source.

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Anonymous (not verified)
She makes one brief (and

She makes one brief (and easily-missed) off-hand comment about believing in God, yet you go off on an entire tangent here about "religion as a crutch"? I think you may be the one who needs to invest in some self-reflection here. Talk about narrow-minded.

I'm deleting Armchair arcade from my RSS feed. Good day.

Bill Loguidice
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One for the record books
Anonymous wrote:

She makes one brief (and easily-missed) off-hand comment about believing in God, yet you go off on an entire tangent here about "religion as a crutch"? I think you may be the one who needs to invest in some self-reflection here. Talk about narrow-minded.

I'm deleting Armchair arcade from my RSS feed. Good day.

"Anonymous", how appropriate. You obviously didn't read her blog post and I'm certainly not putting down anyone's beliefs or a belief in God (I don't believe in organized religion, my stance on my belief in God one way or the other has not been stated). As I state, you can believe anything you wish to believe, I was merely stating my own. I'm saying I was disappointed that she couldn't find more strength from somewhere, be it her belief in God or anything else, that's all. You went off on your own angry tangent.

If you're that close-minded and that incredibly sensitive about your own beliefs, then you're better off not reading Armchair Arcade anyway, so I'm glad you're going through the "trouble" of deleting it. Be careful around the rest of the Internet, though, it's a "scary" place for someone like you where people *gasp* talk about their own opinions and beliefs that may not jibe with your own.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Intolerant people...

I really can't tolerate them! ;-)

As for anonymity: I have no problem with nicks as they represent a person as well as a "real name". Often they even tell something about a person as it's consciously chosen.
Of course some people try to this anonymity as a means to (more or less) safely insult other people but I'm an in some ways old-fashioned guy who always tries to be polite to other people, even if they only present themselves as ASCII characters...
Granted - I can be somewhat sharp at times and I maintain a drastic humor that not everyone finds entertaining but I generally try to not hurt people.

If other people - anonymous or not - get too annoying or too insulting, I leave before they notice and I don't ever come back - same with my "real life". Other people probably call that problem-avoiding and immature but if I sense a lost cause I don't invest my time anymore. This works extremely well for me.

As for the internet being a scary place: You are definitely right and it's always a certain homophobic, sometimes downright criminal bunch that makes it this way. I hope that religious fanatics don't ever get a majority in the net. Note that I have nothing against religion or spirituality - as long as nobody tried to evangelize me.
On the other hand the web has become one of the most fantastic and useful places and tools I've ever seen.

take care,
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Nous
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It's generally hard to be in

It's generally hard to be in someone else's shoes, especially since people with different cultural backgrounds, upbringing, genetic makeup and possibly very different life experiences may develop different mechanisms for coping (or failing to cope, as the case may be) with adversity.

Of course religion is a crutch (what ELSE could it possibly be?). A lot of the things we take for granted are basically that, crutches - and that is not necessarilly a bad thing; crutches are just tools that may help us survive or live better lives (even science, society itself, the whole of civilisation, or knowledge, self confidence, good behavioural habits, etc, are types of "crutches" that we build for ourselves).

I guess the difference here is that one "medicine" may actually work for real, whereas another may simply act as a placebo...

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"Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it."

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Rowdy Rob
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Empathy, Bill.
Bill Loguidice wrote:

You see, as I'm often wont to do - whether it's warranted or not - I often inject my personal mantras/life lessons/lessons learned into my discussions on the Web.

Now, since I'm so conscious of it, I try to save it for special occasions for fear of becoming a real (bigger) bore, but in this case I believe it was warranted.

Bill, occasionally it's a pleasure to break from videogame/geek stuff and talk about real things. Far from making you a "bore," it makes you (and all of us) more real. Videogames aren't everything. :-)

Unfortunately, you chose a very tough subject to go off-topic on, since there are many possible landmines that can erupt from this discussion (as witnessed already!). But I enjoy philosophical discussions, and you seem to be spoiling for one here, so heck, why not?

I had issues MUCH like Jamisings growing up, perhaps lesser in some ways, and perhaps worse in some ways! But fortune, gender difference, psychological research and counseling, medical treatment, good friends, and a deep-down feeling that it all wasn't for nothing; that "I ain't going out like that," helped me get over all of that.(Well, maybe not ALL of it, but the battle scars give me character). I will NEVER be 100 percent of what "mentally happy" people that I've met seem to be, but do I want to be? Do I really want a totally pain-free, smiles-all-the-time life? Would I be any good to anyone if I did?

I'm a believer in the old adage "what doesn't kill you can make you stronger." The emphasis is on the word CAN, as sufferings can also beat someone down into hopelessness and timidity.

Let me say that the subject "should teenagers ever get plastic surgery?" is an ethical/philosophical argument that can be separated from the "self esteem" issue you have brought up. I agree with you in the "fight back, make yourself all you can be" approach to EARNING your self esteem, rather than having someone patronize you into feeling better. But I also feel that plastic surgery is an option for deformative conditions that cannot be fixed through exercise or general medical treatment. In the teenage years, where much of "who you are" is forming, imagine having all kinds of physical deformity issues! Correct them if you can in these youths, I say, if there's no other viable alternatives. Would you really let your kids suffer through such things if there are corrective procedures? I'm not talking "big nose" or other such minor things, I'm talking cleft palates, male breasts, serious skin conditions, or other such things that alter your appearance.

And liposuction for teens? No.

Bill Loguidice wrote:

It saddens me that she has religion as a crutch, but is not able to reach into herself, dig deep and pull herself out of her despair through it. Now, of course, as a reformed Christian and present day Secular Humanist/Agnostic, I have little use for organized religion, but I would still hope that her faith - whatever it may be - would have given her more strength than it has. .

I didn't see the "religion as a crutch" aspect of her. It seemed, in passing, that she was saying she was an agnostic. Oh, heck, this is the Internet, let me re-read her message and make sure. Yup, here's a quote from the page you provided:

Quote:

"Maybe I still would’ve ended up this way because I’d still be bullied for my taste in music, the fact that I like to read, and that I believe in God, but don’t believe that there is“one true religion” but rather many paths to the same destination."

That's borderline agnostic, or perhaps New Age, but certainly not a mainstream Judeo-Christian/Muslim doctrine. How did you arrive at the "religion as a crutch" conclusion?

Bill Loguidice wrote:

So why am I speaking about this? I'm not sure, really, other than the fact that I've spoken to so few people like this who have seem to well and truly given up on themselves and what they can overcome and accomplish if they really, really wanted. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was moved (saddened) on some level.

Nonsense. You've spoken to more than a few people who have "given up on themselves." I believe such people are common, perhaps even the norm! They may not show it (which means you might not have immediately recognized it), but you've met more than your share.

I think you already knew that, but I believe you are speaking about this because, on some level, you REALLY identify with Jamisings. You've been there, on some level, in your life; you feel compassion; you EMPATHIZE! You know what it is like to feel helpless, outcast, humiliated, and depressed. If you deny it, then the only other reason you brought this up here (from my viewpoint) is to say "look at this loser.... I'm glad I'm superior to her, for all of you to see."

We all know that the second option is NOT the case! If you were a conceited, condescending lout, then you would have revealed yourself as such long before now! So reach deep within yourself, and ask yourself, "why did Jamisings affect me?" I think I know the answer, but I won't influence you.

Ok, I guess I will: I think it's because you feel her pain, and you want to help this person. And you really can't; your hands are tied by distance and lack of personal contact, and (possibly) the lack of social graces and tact to do so. And your frustration about this conclusion has lead you to vent here. But you've at least discovered a way out of all of this, and want to show people like this the way. This is the "philosophy" that permeates most of your messages, although you keep it subtle for whatever reasons.

Bill Loguidice wrote:

Of course, in my own life, I'm exceedingly blessed with good health, a loving family and fulfilling creative outlets, but that's also due in no small part to my taking the steps that I felt I needed to in my late teens and 20s to make that happen. I really, really wanted it, worked at it, and got it. No amount of hoping or outside assistance would have gotten any of that for me. I hope "Jamisings" can find some of that power, whatever her source.

But you HAD to have had some outside assistance or hope in your journey to where you are now. No one is an island. SOMEONE (or probably MANY SOMEONES) had your back during the down times, be it a family member, friend(s), acquaintances, self-help literature, or whatever. And there's no shame in that. If you truly did EVERYTHING for yourself on your own, then you are either a) an extraordinary person, which undercuts your whole argument, or b) are not recognizing and giving credit to all the little influences or big helps you've gotten from other people.

A lot of people, particularly ELITE people like AA forum members, took a lot of crap when we were younger. You don't survive that without some outside help or camaraderie in some form. Give credit and thanks where it is due!

A lot of people with problems like to play "the blame game." I have a few such friends like this, and I try to empathize, listen, and give advice, but it does get frustrating! And I am guilty of "the blame game" myself, having grown up with that mentality. Everyone else should change, not me! Woe is me!

But sometimes, someone else DOES deserve blame as well. In the case of "Jamisings," how could her(?) parents raise a kid who, from the descriptions, was morbidly obese? After all, the parents control the food and the money, right? Isn't that some form of child abuse? Why would you put your kids through that???? On top of her other listed self-esteem issues, "blame" becomes a great self-defense mechanism over things you can't control, and perhaps it carried over into the adult years. It can also become crippling; a mental prison that it's hard to escape from.

I can drone on and on about this, but I think the key word here is "EMPATHY." That's what you feel, deep down, and it is to your credit there. Somehow she has brought some sympathetic emotion deep from your logical core. But you don't know how to act on it. I don't know either. I'm more of an "in-person" person.

How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go? :-)

(P.S. I did write a response to this message the other night, but fell asleep before posting it. When I woke up, I re-read what I had typed, and concluded "THIS IS CRAZY!!!!" Just so you know, I saved you from a lunatic rant! Only to post this slightly-less-crazy one.) :-)

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The talking about my own issues response
Rowdy Rob wrote:

I had issues MUCH like Jamisings growing up, perhaps lesser in some ways, and perhaps worse in some ways! But fortune, gender difference, psychological research and counseling, medical treatment, good friends, and a deep-down feeling that it all wasn't for nothing; that "I ain't going out like that," helped me get over all of that.(Well, maybe not ALL of it, but the battle scars give me character). I will NEVER be 100 percent of what "mentally happy" people that I've met seem to be, but do I want to be? Do I really want a totally pain-free, smiles-all-the-time life? Would I be any good to anyone if I did?

I'm a believer in the old adage "what doesn't kill you can make you stronger." The emphasis is on the word CAN, as sufferings can also beat someone down into hopelessness and timidity.

I have never been shy about the fact that I was a fat kid - one of the very fattest in my class for a number of years - who decided to do something about it. I was also a sweater (not the wearing kind, the drippy kind). In fact, it was so bad that my teacher told me in maybe second or third grade to NOT move during recess so I wouldn't sweat and smell. Nice, right? I got picked on incessantly. I often fought back. One time, in fifth grade, I had the majority of boys picking a fight with me -- all at the same time. That was the breaking point where my mom actually spoke to the principal and teacher. Of course that didn't go well with the class.

Anyway, for the summer of fifth grade and before sixth grade I decided to do something about my weight. I went on my own diet by eating less. I lost the weight and soon became a very skinny kid. From 13 on I got interested in lifting weights, getting serious around 15 and really serious around 18. I haven't looked back since.

Around age 11 I developed a stutter, though I suppose a more proper term is disfluency--I have trouble getting words out, especially at the start of a sentence. This of course is worsened when I'm under stress or pressure, but sadly is also a major factor when I'm tired in any way, which of course is often. By the time of high school and even through four years of college, I could hardly get a word out. I went to speech therapy around 18 or so, which helped a little, but I eventually stopped going. I have it under control myself now to a degree, but it's still there and frustrates me to no end. While I'm not one of those people who would ever change anything about my life, I sometimes wonder how my life had been and would be if I were a "normal" speaker. I feel like the world wouldn't know what to do with me! ;-)

I always had unusual hair as a kid, where I couldn't do anything with it other than part it to the side because I would look kind of balding otherwise. I parted it down the middle for a while, but it didn't look right and I got teased.

I had bad skin into my 20s, both acne and severely dry skin. I still suffer from dry skin and need to moisturize, particularly my face.

So I guess my point is, I've gone through my fair share of crap too, some serious, some not so, but yeah, I do know some of what she's gone through and is going through. I feel like she's in such a deep, dark place and I would love to be able to help her, but she doesn't want help. She's beyond that point. She wants fixes that are not of her own doing. My point was, there are things she can do outside of fixing her scarring and other cosmetic issues and address things like her weight herself, without liposuction. I was trying to say she should find the strength to do so from somewhere, whether it was within or without. I mentioned the religious thing because she mentioned it in many places, not just the place that Matt found. My other point was was that she has many, many issues and needs to have that cliched "foundation" before embarking on things like cosmetic surgery, which I feel will NOT make her happier in any way. The cosmetic surgery should the last step in the process to feeling good about herself mentally and physically.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

Let me say that the subject "should teenagers ever get plastic surgery?" is an ethical/philosophical argument that can be separated from the "self esteem" issue you have brought up. I agree with you in the "fight back, make yourself all you can be" approach to EARNING your self esteem, rather than having someone patronize you into feeling better. But I also feel that plastic surgery is an option for deformative conditions that cannot be fixed through exercise or general medical treatment. In the teenage years, where much of "who you are" is forming, imagine having all kinds of physical deformity issues! Correct them if you can in these youths, I say, if there's no other viable alternatives. Would you really let your kids suffer through such things if there are corrective procedures? I'm not talking "big nose" or other such minor things, I'm talking cleft palates, male breasts, serious skin conditions, or other such things that alter your appearance.

And liposuction for teens? No.

That was the consensus. For deformities, yes, but for a big nose or body fat, no. The big nose thing can be addressed when the person is of age and the body fat thing should be addressed in the "eat less and exercise more" category. For some liposuction is needed and works, but it's very, very dangerous.

As for your comment about me having help along the way during my own journey, yes, absolutely. However, to be crude for a moment, I had to get my own shit in order myself before that outside support system would really become effective. Again, I had to look within and systematically address what was "wrong" until I reached a "happy" place. Certainly, for all of their faults (as we all have), my parents did a good job with support, particularly my mom, and that has continued with my wife. And of course there are certain things that I do for the benefit of others as well, and that is now taken to the next step with my kids. That's all motivation and support for wanting more and doing the best you can.

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Rob, you make some good

Rob, you make some good points. However I do think Bill was right, have a look here: http://jamisings.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/religion-is-not-a-crutch-not-f...

To say that a person uses religion as a crutch is not necessarilly criticism, but in this case you'd probably have to keep it in mind. This person seems to be expressing some very strong opinions that are both offensive and utterly mistaken when she speaks about theists and atheists.

As a sidenote, it is quite possible that this person's health issue (polycystic ovaries) might have in part come about by lifelong unhealthy dietary habits and lifestyle choices - not the other way around (although now it's probably contributing to her weight problem). But that's an altogether different topic.

It's a little bit strange when you put this into perspective: we're talking about people helping other people, being good human beings, how our society errs (i.e. sucks) in so many ways, putting an unhealthy emphasis on external appearances, how many problems we have as a species and how much we need to work hard resolving them if we want to be around on this planet until the end of this century ... and so on and so forth ... there are certainly some very big issues we're facing and while it's not easy, we probably need to work hard on improving our pathetic education system, instilling confidence, bravery, empathy and compassion in our children, emphasising curiosity, knowledge, skepticism (as a positive force, NOT cynicism), hard work and perseverence, understanding ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our societies, appreciating our civilisation and our achievement as much as having the fervent desire to fix the problems ...

... so, seriously, how hard would it really be to adopt a diet very low in carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats and rich in nutrients that promote health, remembering to drink enough water throughout the day, or going for a one hour walk every day? Because most people who are currently obese would benefit immensely by these relatively simple changes. This isn't such a hard problem to overcome, compared to the ones we actually do face, collectively, and which we also have to solve together.

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"You must not give the world what it asks for, but what it needs."

-- Dijkstra

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Bill Loguidice
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Young Earth Creationism
Nous wrote:

Rob, you make some good points. However I do think Bill was right, have a look here: http://jamisings.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/religion-is-not-a-crutch-not-for-me-at-least/

Indeed and that was just one of many places. I wish she didn't shut down comments to her blog posts because now she's only talking to herself. Her defense mechanisms kicked in. What's unfortunate is that she opened all this up for discussion herself, but did not want to really explore it, like Anonymous, who was the first to comment to my blog post. That saddens me. If you think I'm wrong, then try to make me understand rather than running away, you know? Perhaps we'll both learn something that way.

Of course, what I hate about her blog post (the one you linked to) is the amazing distortion of fact and the incorrect assumptions. She's essentially saying that the Earth is 5,000 years old, there is no evidence of evolution and that wars have never been over religion (and it goes on). The issues with this poor soul run deep, deep, deep.

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Nous
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Just to make it clear: I

Just to make it clear: I don't know if religion is more of a crutch than so many other things - I don't think it is. I see crutches everywhere.

What I do think is that it's a placebo; it may seem to do some good, but it's not the real solution to our very real problems.

Having said that, I do totally empathise with that person, even though I've never been in a similar position myself.

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"You must not give the world what it asks for, but what it needs."

-- Dijkstra

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