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Published: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:00:35 -0500


Auntie SparkNotes: My Parents Don't Trust Me Online

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:00:35 -0500

Dear Auntie SparkNotes, I am a high school sophomore girl who has always dealt with overprotective parents (I mean, dating? HAHAHA FORGET IT). But right now I feel like it’s gone a little bit overboard. Both my younger sister and I have agreed that it has. On our computers and iPods (cause no phones are allowed) we have had software that blocks certain sites and stops working after a certain time at curfew and starts again in the morning, but the Wi-Fi would always work and we could communicate through texting and emails, which were always closely monitored. My parents receive ALL of my texts and emails and if I say I don’t like it, then, I get no communication. We also have no social media and it’s always been hard to explain these restrictions to my Instagram-savvy friends who have a million followers on Snapchat. Usually I could just grin and bear it and hope for some freedom in the future, but recently things have taken a turn for the worse. Now, they have discovered how to control how much our devices connect to the Wi-Fi as well. Now we have the restrictions of 6:45- 7:15 on weekdays (right before school) and 8:00-8:30 (right before curfew). On weekends it’s a little weird, 9:00-9:30 AM and again 12:30-2:00 PM. I find these limits really annoying and unnecessary. I am an all A’s and B’s student at a very hard and prestigious school, I take dance, music, and do extra-curricular sports and school clubs, so it’s not like I can be accused of being antisocial and addicted to my screen. Due to these time limits, our devices hardly work at all. I don’t know how to deal with all the restrictions that my parents put on me, such as the fact that I need to have someone they need to contact with me at all times, but they don’t think I should have a phone, also no media sites such as YouTube, and all the restrictions I described before. I feel like they don’t trust me at all and don’t know how to start. And I'm not gonna argue with you on that front, Sparkler. As an agony aunt in the digital age, Auntie SparkNotes has certainly heard many a tale about internet-phobic parents — but the restrictions yours have placed on you are seriously extreme. And unless there's something you've failed to mention (like, say, the part where you lost your social media privileges because you were texting pictures of your naked butt to Slenderman, along with your home address and social security number), the way your folks are monitoring your communication is seriously over the top. You're going to be an adult in two short years, which means that right now is the ideal time for you to be learning to handle more autonomy and responsibility — and a profoundly weird time for your parents to be keeping you on a shorter leash than ever. So if you're looking for sympathy and validation, then congrats, you've got it. But unfortunately, when it comes to having any practical effect on your internet privileges, my sympathy doesn't mean a ding-dang thing; it's what your parents think that matters. Which is why, before you do anything else, you're going to need to sit down with Mom and Dad for a calm, mature, and hopefully productive discussion about why they're so strict about your internet use. You can't reason with them about a new way to do things if you don't understand the reasoning behind what they're currently doing. And while you'll know better than I exactly what words to use (and not to use) when you talk to your folks, this is the gist of the question you'll ask: If you've never given them a reason not to trust you, why do they monitor your texts and emails and limit your internet access as though you can't be trusted? And what, if anything, would it take to convince them to let you have at least a little bit more privacy, or a little bit more leeway to make your own choices about your life online? Obviously, your tone here matters a lot; the message you want to convey is not "I hate this," so much as, "I want to understand this." And that'll be hard, because you do hate it. Of course you hate it! And[...]

Open Thread for February 20!

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:00:10 -0500

QUIZ: Is Your Life a Shakespearean Comedy or a Tragedy?

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:00:33 -0500

Either you’re going to have a happy ending, or you’re going to die an easily preventable death at the hands of your dearest friend and greatest enemy. There is no in between. [viralQuiz id=254]

The Most Under-Appreciated Characters in All of Harry Potter

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:34 -0500

TBH, we can't wait for the inevitable day that Vitoria Bas teams up with J.K. Rowling herself to illustrate the forthcoming edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Hashtag-Ban (IT's A FIRST DRAFT, OKAY?). But until then, we get to keep soaking up her brilliant HP imaginings. Today, as a balm for your finals-addled brains, we present an array of the unsung heroes of the Potterverse! —eds.

QUIZ: How Stressed Are You?

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 10:00:30 -0500

Everyone responds to stress differently. For example, if you just shouted "I'M NOT STRESSED AT ALL I'M COMPLETELY FINE," even though that was just the title of the post and not a personal question, then you are probably pretty stressed. If you are too busy being asleep in a hammock to read this post, then stress is probably not a huge issue for you. Hopefully you fall somewhere between these two extremes. For most people, some level of stress is a fact of life, and the realistic goal is just to manage it in a healthy way instead of letting it give you some manner of brain attack. This quiz will help you figure out just how well you're doing that. [viralQuiz id=251]

Open Thread for the Weekend of February 17!

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:00:52 -0500

From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: November 2, 1981

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:00:46 -0500

Dear Diary, I have had so many emotions in the past 48 hours that I don't know how to write them in order—or how to feel them. They've all blended together into one giant lump around my heart: Hope. Grief. Fear. Sorrow. Anger. Trust. I suppose I'll start there, because we trusted Peter Pettigrew when we shouldn't have, and because of that, James and Lily Potter are dead. But also: Lord Voldemort is dead. He aimed the Killing Curse at the infant child Harry and somehow Lord Voldemort was killed instead. I'm not sure how it happened. It's never happened before. Professor Dumbledore knew right away, the way he knows everything, and left Hogwarts in the middle of the night. The rest of us learned later. I got a letter from Alice Longbottom, flown in by owl, more eloquent than anything I can write tonight. Her joy. The war was over. She could raise her son in peace. She wrote, at the end of the letter, that she didn't know who was taking care of Harry. That she could, since there weren't any other Potters. That she would write Professor Dumbledore right away. Except she didn't. I don't think the owl knew; his eyes looked calm, when he delivered my letter. But it must not have been long after he left when the Death Eaters arrived. That's the part I still don't understand. They lost. Their leader was killed. But they took and tortured Frank and Alice just because they could. Because the war was only over when they said it was—or, as it turned out, when the Aurors arrived. It seems as if our wars are like the Muggle ones after all; they're settled not by a single spell but slowly, on paper and in the courts. The Death Eaters will go to trial. The Longbottoms are at St. Mungo's, unlikely to recover. Their baby is with his grandmother. I do not know where Harry Potter is. But Professor Dumbledore does, and we must trust him. He told me that someday I would know everything that happened at Godric's Hollow—and, in time, meet Harry myself. "You might have to do it as a cat, though," he said, and then he smiled. As if there were enough space in his heart, amidst everything else he must have been feeling, to find room for a smile. I know there isn't yet any space in mine. Yours faithfully, Minerva

Every Literary Genre Summed Up in a Single Sentence

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:00:57 -0500

Back in the olden days, there were only like three types of book: 1) epic poetry, 2) Latin prose, and 3) ancient Greek plays where the gods were constantly punishing people for things like "stealing stuff" and "being prideful one time." Over the years, we’ve accumulated more and more literary genres, which is a good thing; it means I can kick down the door of my nearest Barnes & Noble and go straight to the "soft cyberpunk grimoire" section, no muss, no fuss. But it also means there are now so many genres it can be hard to keep track of them all. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, here’s every literary genre (well, most of them, anyway), summed up in a single (tongue-in-cheek) sentence.