CHAPTER THREE: MODERATED SITES ARE THE PITS

I was anxious to share my newfound knowledge about weight loss, and dispel the many misconceptions people seemed to have about lowcarb, especially Atkins, the most well-known plan. Through Somersize, I had learned quite a bit about Atkins, and wanted people to know that lowcarb does not mean no carb. The media has distorted Atkins, making it sound like the short induction period is the whole diet, when nothing could be farther from the truth. You eat from all food groups, adjusting your intake of healthy, whole-grain carbs according to your metabolism and activity level.

But try as I might, so many people on Yahoo still believed that you don’t eat any carbs on Atkins and similar programs, ever. They would say how unhealthy this is, that Atkins died a “fat pig” of a heart attack, that if these “fat*sses would just get off the couch and exercise, they could eat anything they want”, etc. What irritated me the most was those who said that diets are a waste of time, and that the only thing we need to do is eat in moderation. Well I knew from experience that that is just not always the case. Yes, there is something to eating in moderation. That’s basically what Somersize, Atkins and the like teach us. But it’s so much more than that! When I was trying to lose weight, before I discovered Somersize, I tried to eat “in moderation”. But what did that actually entail? I took it to mean eating half a sandwich instead of a whole one, for instance. Or not putting butter on my white rice. But that just did not work. Those refined carbs in the hamburger bun or rice raised my insulin level, causing fat to be stored and my cravings to increase. In my younger years, I could eat as much white bread and white rice as I wanted, with no problem. But not anymore. Through Somersize, I learned to eat hamburgers without a bun, which is actually quite good! I learned how to make pizza with a lowcarb crust rather than eat traditional pizza made with white, refined flour. I simply could not eat the way I used to, not since getting older and having my metabolism change. My body couldn’t handle it.

Other lowcarbers understood this well. Many times on the lowcarb sites, someone would tell of how they “cheated” and went off their plan, indulging in some sweet treat or refined carb for a special event or during a weak moment, and before they knew it they were craving everything in sight and it took them two weeks to get back on track again. People like us learned to know just what we could get away with. I do eat carbs, but limit it to fruit and whole-grain oatmeal in the morning. The rest of the day is vegetables and protein. Since losing the weight, getting all the sugar out of my system and reprogramming my metabolism, I allow myself a few squares of dark chocolate most afternoons. Dark chocolate has less sugar and no refined white flour, so it is a healthier choice if you are going to indulge. And of course we all need our chocolate. 

And so, in addition to trying to dispel some of the myths about lowcarb, I continued to yell at people for making fun of those with weight problems. It just sickened me that people could be so mean. I always taught my boys to never call the overweight kids rude names, and they didn’t! They knew better than to purposely hurt someone’s feelings. The posts got so bad, I even wrote up a little “rant” which I copied and pasted numerous times whenever I was on a story where the fat jokes were rampant:

“It really isn’t nice to make fun of those with weight problems. I would hope we were all raised to know better than that. What’s ironic is that those who post insults here would never say the same things face-to-face. Think of some people you know who may be overweight: the sweet kindergarten teacher down the street, the kind librarian who would do anything for anybody, your Aunt Matilda who remembers you at every birthday…you would never just walk up to an overweight person and say, “Hey, Lardbutt! Wanna hear a good FAT joke?” Yet people post hurtful insults on the World Wide Web, where these same people and thousands like them may be reading. It can be very hard to lose weight. What’s more, many people will be large no matter what they do, simply because of the predisposition of their body type and metabolism. Some are on medications that cause weight gain. Others, like my brother-in-law and his wife, can eat like pigs and never exercise, and stay skinny as a rail. I was very slender when I was younger, stuffing myself trying to GAIN weight! Then my metabolism changed in my 30s. I tried every trick in the book—exercised like crazy, cut back on portions, etc. The more I tried to lose, the bigger I got. I yo-yo dieted myself to almost obesity. Fortunately I had great success on a lower-carb plan. But until then, it was very discouraging. Those who make fun of the overweight, I hope they never have a weight problem themselves because they could get all these insults back someday. Let’s all try to show some respect for ourselves and others.

Cindy
Visit my homepage (link in profile) for recipes and tips, my weight loss story, and before/after photos.”

I don’t know if my diatribe did any good, but I hope it at least made some people think. I also continued to try to get people to think about what they were doing regarding smoking marijuana. I was amazed at all the grown adults on the boards who casually stated they did this, or thought nothing was wrong with it. I did not know anybody in real life who smoked pot. Certainly none of my friends did. They were all just nice, normal parents who tried to raise their kids with good values. My main message on the boards was that most parents try to do all they can to keep their kids off drugs and out of trouble with the law, and that even if pot were legal most parents would still raise their kids to know better than to ever want to light up a joint and get “stoned”. This was a very simple view, nothing far-fetched. Yet this innocent little statement was enough to set people off.  They would argue that smoking marijuana is fine if you do it “responsibly”. They would say things like it should be legal, and that it’s better than drinking alcohol. These statements incensed me. I kept thinking about Tim’s experience in the court room.

“If you get busted, the judge won’t care if you think pot ‘should’ be legal!” I’d tell them. “The fact is that it’s illegal NOW. That’s all that matters when you are standing in front of a stern, harsh judge who doesn’t know you from Adam! And it won’t help to tell the judge you were smoking ‘responsibly’. They won’t care HOW you were smoking it. All they care about is that you were stupid enough to light up a joint and get ‘stoned’. You’d be nothing but a common criminal in the eyes of the law.”

People would also say things like, “Speeding is illegal, too. I bet you have done that.” I’d tell them you can’t compare speeding to going out and lighting up an illegal marijuana joint and getting “high”. Of course, more often than not they’d come back with, “Yeah, one can kill you, the other can’t.” But they were only making excuses for smoking pot, I’d say. I’d tell them that I did not make the laws, that I was just stating the reality that marijuana is illegal. I didn’t even necessarily agree with the law. There are good reasons for it to remain illegal, as well as good reasons to legalize or decriminalize it, I’d say. But the fact is that you can get into serious trouble if you get busted, depending on where you live. No parent wants to see their child get arrested. And even if pot were legal, most parents would still raise their kids to know better than to ever want to get “high”, at any age, kid or adult, I’d reiterate.

This still didn’t do any good. It got to be very frustrating. I was simply trying to get people to realize that using any mind-altering drug is not a good thing to do. Even if marijuana may be safer than alcohol, it doesn’t make it right, I’d say. We shouldn’t smoke pot OR drink alcohol. Why was that so hard to understand? Why did they want to use these substances so much?

One of my favorite excuses pot-smokers gave was, “If you have never smoked pot, you have no right to comment. You don’t know what you are talking about. You’re just a sheep, blindly following authority, doing what you are told.”

I had to laugh at that. I’d always respond that one doesn’t have to have smoked pot to know that it is a mind-altering drug and against the law. I knew from what people online had told me that smoking a joint is similar to drinking a few beers, which I had done in my day. But that still does not make it right, I would say. And as far as me being a sheep, I felt I was just the opposite! The “sheep”, if you had to refer to them as that, were the kids like Carol and Gina, who got coerced into trying pot out of peer pressure, who couldn’t stand up for themselves. I had a mind of my own and never even THOUGHT about using drugs. It did not mean I thought I was any better than anyone else, I said, but that’s just how I grew up, how I felt.

I’d always try to build people up, not put them down. I did not start posts like, “POTHEADS ARE LOSERS!” as some people did. I’d point out people’s good qualities, trying to make them realize they are too GOOD to be doing such a thing as lighting up a joint and getting “high”. “Here you are a grown adult with a good job and family, and you STILL do this?” I’d say. “You of all people should know better, and stand up and serve as an example, rather than think it’s okay to get ‘stoned’ as long as you don’t get caught. You are going against everything most parents try to teach their kids about drugs and life!”

Part of my “spiel” was going into what I call “mother mode”. I would talk to these pot-smokers as if they were my own children, saying what I did out of love and concern. I mean, what parent wouldn’t be upset if they found out their child smoked pot? They would try to do all they could to turn that child around and keep them out of trouble, right? That’s what I was trying to do with the people on the boards, whether or not I was old enough to be their mother. It did not matter what their age was, I just went into mother mode and tried to talk some sense into them. I did not want to hurt them or make them think they were bad people. I tried to address the BEHAVIOR, not attack anyone personally. That’s why one of my most oft-used lines was “Smoking pot, what a thing to do!” I said this in order to focus on what they were DOING, not who they are as a person. There is a huge difference.

People would tell me to mind my own business. But I had to laugh at that statement. It’s hard to “mind your own business” on the World Wide Web, when people post things on public forums for all to see. In real life, I do not go up to people and ask if they smoke marijuana, and then rant and rave if they say yes. As I said, I don’t even know anyone who smokes. Certainly none of my friends do; they all feel the same way I do about drugs. And if my dentist smokes pot, he doesn’t tell me. Same goes for the checkout lady, the bag boys, the dry-cleaners, the mailman and the vet. But when I opened a post and someone casually mentioned that they light up joints and get “high”, this appeared on my computer screen in black and white. They might as well be blowing that smoke right in my face. I couldn’t help but comment. And I had every right to!

They would tell me that it’s up to them to smoke pot, it’s their choice, that if they do this in the privacy of their own home, it’s nobody’s business, and that I can’t change them. Well, first of all, yes it is your choice to smoke pot, I’d respond. But if you get busted, it won’t help to tell the judge that. I could see someone telling Judge Ratchet that it was their “choice” to smoke pot. She would laugh in their face and give them an even harsher sentence! Secondly, I agree that I cannot change anyone. It is up to each individual to do that. I said many times that this is what life is about, to exercise our free agency and make wise decisions, so that we can learn and grow and return to our Father in Heaven someday.

Many people would tell me I’m self-righteous and judgmental, thinking that I was saying they are a bad person. They’d say how they had a good job and family, they do volunteer work, they pay their taxes, and there’s nothing wrong with smoking pot once in a while to unwind. That made me furious! I’d tell them that this made it worse! Casual smokers help keep the whole illegal drug trade in business. “What makes you think you’re above the law?” I’d say. “You should be ashamed of yourself! If you were busted, the judge wouldn’t care if you have a good job and family, or if you donate a thousand dollars a month to charity! You would be a common criminal!” And it’s true!

I’d get so mad that sometimes, depending on how nasty the person was, I’d blurt out, “I hope you get busted!” I really tried to be nice and calm and respectful, but these pot smokers could be so exasperating! It just drove me nuts that they thought they were above the law, especially after what I saw Tim go through. And of course most of these people would never get caught, because they don’t look the type. They could be walking down the street with ten pounds of marijuana in their pocket, and a cop would never stop them. But Tim was caught because he was a teenage boy. The same held true for Gina. She could have been walking down the street with a bag of cocaine, and no cop would have suspected her of writing graffiti on a driveway and then stopped her. The only reason I said I wanted people to get busted was to serve as a wakeup call, so that they would realize they shouldn’t go breaking the law or think they were above it just because they didn’t look the type to ever get caught, when people like Tim and other teenage boys were easy targets. But they still did not understand, and only called me mean and vicious, thinking I wished harm on them, when that was not the case at all. I just was trying to get them to realize they shouldn’t use drugs, period.

Sometime in 2004 I had stumbled across a pro-marijuana site, and decided to join just to check out what went on there. I was astonished at all the posts I saw. I went into mother-mode and tried to talk to the posters, many of whom were teens. Unfortunately, this site was moderated, and I received many warnings that I would be banned. I kept posting, though, sincerely trying to help people. A lot of the kids were rude to me, but understandably so, since I was this adult “infringing” on their right to get “stoned”, or so they thought. But some of them turned around and we had some nice discussions. There were adults on that site as well, and when word got around that an “outsider” was among them, they set off to attack. One woman totally blasted me, telling me how she got good grades in school, had a good job, was a good mother, and yet she still smoked pot every day. She told me I was like a pure and holy “church lady” and said I should get back to my knitting and Ladies Circle. This infuriated me. I told her that if her attitude was typical of pot-smokers, I was now even more against drugs. I said if she is so smart and has a good job and is such a good mother, she of all people should know better than to do what she is doing. And what made her think I was so holier-than-thou, just because I knew that smoking pot was wrong? It was as if she thought that if you did not get “high” on marijuana, you were a goody-goody. Even though she was a grown woman, she reminded me of what Carol must have been like her freshman year of college, succumbing to peer pressure. I felt kind of sorry for her, really. It was like she was stuck in some kind of adolescent mentality.

Another woman told me that as a school bus driver, she smoked pot almost every evening to unwind. “I do not smoke during the day or endanger any children,” she said. “But I have every right to smoke on my own time.” I told her that she was going against what most parents try to teach all those children she sees every day. Another member of that site, a fireman, said he also smoked frequently to relax. He told of how he helps save lives and does all this good stuff, as if that gave him the right to use pot. “Do YOU save lives?” he asked me accusingly. He seemed to think I would change my mind if I just knew how good he was. I told him that of course I did not save lives! And I did think it was great that he was a fireman—I had the utmost respect for him! As a former newspaper reporter, I had covered several stories related to firemen, and once did an in-depth feature about the local fire department. It is a very admirable profession. But the fact that he was doing such a good thing with his life made it even worse that he smoked pot. “You of all people should know better,” I said, reiterating my point about how most parents try to raise their kids to stay off drugs, always.

I thought about my son on his church mission, who frequently wrote about his adventures in the ghetto areas of Louisiana, where he had been assigned off and on. He told of meeting families where the parents all used drugs, and then the kids ended up smoking pot and worse, too, because they did not know any better. One can hardly blame these kids, because they were not taught any different. (And that is one role of the missionaries, to try and teach people proper values and gospel principles, so that they can turn their lives around.)  But when grown adults like that fireman think nothing of lighting up a joint on a Friday night and getting “high”, they have no excuse, I thought. It’s not like this guy was some bum on the street who was never taught right from wrong. He should stand up and serve as an example. He was acting as though he had the right to light up a joint because of his profession. I could just see it now—DARE officers teaching children to “Just Say No—unless you’re a fireman!”

I never told the people on this site about my missionary son or my religion. But one day a teenage boy posted about a concern he had regarding his girlfriend, who was starting to attend Bible study and was having second thoughts about using marijuana. This boy had some questions about religion, asking something about how to know which church is right. I took the opportunity to share a bit about my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had joined this church in 1981, a year and a half after I was married. I did not want to preach, so I just matter-of-factly addressed some of this boy’s questions because he had specifically posted on the subject of religion. Well, once the word got out that I was a “Mormon” (the nickname for those of the LDS faith), it was all over. Those kids, and some adults, attacked me right and left, posting links to things they had found on the Internet about the Church that is totally untrue or distorted. There is so much misinformation about the LDS Church, and people love to spread it, trying to disprove something they really don’t know anything about but are probably afraid to investigate for fear of finding out the truth. I calmly answered a few of the more blatant misconceptions they threw at me, but those kids were so mean, saying things like, “She’s a MORMON! That explains it!”

Well no, my being a Mormon had little to do with my views on drugs. As I said, I was not religious in high school or college, yet I still felt basically the same way as I do now, never having any desire to get “high”, and being shocked when I found out that people I knew smoked pot. You don’t have to be religious to feel the way I do about marijuana. The things I said were just common sense! I tried to tell those kids this, but it was too late—I had been banned. The moderator saw me posting about religion and that was the last straw. He thought I was some sort of “missionary”, trying to convert people, which was not the case at all. It was so frustrating no longer being able to talk to some of the people I had become acquainted with. Moderated sites are the pits. Good thing there was still Yahoo.


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