Ask MetaFilter as parenting aid March 9, 2014 7:20 PM   Subscribe

We had a very enjoyable dinnertime conversation tonight with our 8-year-old about the Ask MeFi question about the college student whose friend spilled water on her laptop and killed it. It was really great to say, "OK, here's an interesting ethical question, what do you think she should do? What does Mommy think? What does Daddy think?" And then we talked about the various answers people gave, and how we felt about them, and the whole thing was great. It made me want to make this a regular dinnertime feature! MeFi parents, do you use MetaFilter as a teaching or parenting tool, and if so how?
posted by escabeche to MetaFilter-Related at 7:20 PM (116 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

I don't have kids, but I often use various AskMe questions (especially from the Human Relations category) as self-reflection tools, or conversation starters with friends. In fact, I bookmarked the laptop question so that I could spend some thinking about it later, when I have some quiet time.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:34 PM on March 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ha! That was me and my family about an hour ago as well. I don't normally do it, but I mentioned while we were eating dinner "hey, so there was this interesting story on Ask MeFi about someone getting water spilled on their laptop, and trying to figure out who is responsible" and we had a discussion of accidents, blame, responsibility, and finances for the next 15 minutes. I never thought of Ask MeFi as a parenting/teaching tool but I suppose it can be.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:34 PM on March 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


When I was young, I used to read advice columnists to see a spectrum of opinions, trying to judge what seemed reasonable. If my son (who so far is really strikingly similar to how I was when I was a kid) ends up interested in doing something similar, I really hope he gets into AskMe.
posted by Jpfed at 7:51 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's neat!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:55 PM on March 9, 2014


I would like to know what the kids thought.
posted by grouse at 7:57 PM on March 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have to say, it was beyond shocking to me to see that many people endorse the idea that it's fine to destroy something of someone else's (and something important/expensive enough that it would be a significant hardship for them whether or not they get it replaced) and do nothing to help them, because... it was an accident and helping would be hard and it's people fault for having stuff for us to break? I wonder if it's just greedy old me or more cultural, because I'm like, WHAT ABOUT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR FELLOW MAN. In fact, I'm like, WHAT, full stop. I'll ask my boyfriend what he thinks, and I kind of hope he disagrees with me because I need this explained.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:09 PM on March 9, 2014 [32 favorites]


I frequently end up talking about Ask questions with my kid, and have taught her how to search MetaFilter as her first stop when she has questions about things. She also gets linked to basically every cute animals thing anyone ever posts to the front page, so, uh, thanks for that, guys.

Also, the other day, we were trying (and failing) to do something, and she said, moderately impatiently, "Why don't you just go ask MetaFilter?"

She's been trained well.
posted by MeghanC at 8:19 PM on March 9, 2014 [25 favorites]


My kid thought the person who spilled the water should pay.
posted by escabeche at 8:23 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I posted that question and I think I'm going to just let my friend know what's happening w/ computer and then let her figure out for herself what she can do/feels responsible for. She is a fabulous person who is also a good person, so I'm sure it'll get resolved well.

I have to say, it was really validating to have such a diversity of responses. I had/have no real sense of what the Right Thing is and it appears there really is none, just cultural/personal perspectives. Glad it could spark discussion off MeFi as well!
posted by c'mon sea legs at 8:26 PM on March 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


There's a lot of vague mischaracterizations of people's answers in that thread, and it's sad to see them continue here. A bottle of water is not a car, and in general two friends do not have a renter-landlord relationship. There are a lot of grey areas and I stand by the fact that I have not and would not ask a friend to pay for accidental damage to a laptop that I left out around liquids. That's not a moral or ethical judgement of anyone who does. It's just my own moral calculus.
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 PM on March 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


I don't want to rehash the AskMe thread in the grey, I want to talk about how me and mathowie are great parents and encourage others to emulate us!
posted by escabeche at 8:38 PM on March 9, 2014 [53 favorites]


I've been trying to emulate you guys, but I have neither children nor pets. Please advise.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 8:40 PM on March 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think that thread does include a really interesting insight into the assumptions underlying different people's ideas of property and interactions, and also the MeFi idea of ask vs. guess culture. For example, had I spilled the water, I would definitely offer to pay, but if someone spilled water on my stuff I would never, ever in a million years ask for money although if they didn't offer to pay I would bitch about them a lot.

I don't have my own kids and I don't think I ever actually used AskMe as a teaching tool explicitly, but I definitely did incorporate Metafilter perspectives into my the way I worked with my students and handled my classroom. Many people have shared feelings of hurt or frustration from things their teachers said (or didn't say) to them, and I tried really hard to be aware of how what I was saying affected my students. It's really, REALLY hard because there are so many of them and only one of you and you never know how some students are going to take things but I tried really hard. One thing I made a point of, too, partially based on MeFi comments, is apologizing to students if I did something wrong or treated one of them unfairly, which did happen especially because I was working in a really challenging environment. I think it was a really big deal to my kids, especially my second graders, when I stopped and said "I just said something hurtful to Antwan because I was frustrated. I'm sorry, Antwan, that I spoke that way to you." Many my kids didn't get a lot of respect at home and having an adult pay attention to their feelings meant a great deal to them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:42 PM on March 9, 2014 [26 favorites]


Not a parent, but that question ran the conversation at dinner with friends about whether laptops (or macbooks specifically) were luxury items. I was really surprised at the number of people who viewed them as optional or luxuries at school or work.
posted by variella at 8:49 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I liked that question so much that tonight I spilled water on my wife's laptop, and then had a spirited discussion about it.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:50 PM on March 9, 2014 [63 favorites]


To add to that, something else of which Metafilter helped make me aware is how not addressing things normalizes them and makes people feel isolated and hurt. I had one kid, in sixth grade, who used a homophobic slur in my classroom kind of under her breath where I heard it and she knew I heard it but I could have ignored it if I wanted to. Frankly, I DID want to ignore it even though it obviously bothered me a ton; that class had a LOT of behavioral challenges and this girl constantly said stuff about how she didn't respect me anyway because I was white and the whole class was exhausting and I just wanted to get through the day and I was getting my wisdom teeth out later that week because they were KILLING me and I was in a shitty mood but I thought about how that really isn't okay and no matter what else is going on that shit doesn't fly and I wasn't willing to let my classroom be a place where people could use that kind of language. Anyway, I just wanted to keep going and ignore it but I stopped what I was doing and said "In this classroom, we don't use that word and we don't judge anyone based on who they love. The words you use in your own home or on the street are up to you, but in here we don't use that word." and I kept going with the lesson. Later on that week she used the same word, and I gave the same speech, and it happened again, and I was really fucking frustrated because I was like "I'm not ignoring it, I'm trying to be clear, I want this to be safe space, WTF?" It was super effing frustrating.

I learned later (from another teacher after I quit) that the girl's mother was in a relationship with another woman. She heard that word and other homophobic speech a lot from her peers, and she was trying it out. I think she kept using the word because hearing my speech about not judging people for who they love was kind of a big deal for her and helped her cope with her feelings about her mom's relationship. It's one moment and kind of a small thing but Metafilter did help make it clear to me that those moments add up and I'm glad I said something, even if it was exhausting and I was miserable. So, yeah, teaching aid.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:52 PM on March 9, 2014 [79 favorites]


I emulate you guys with VMWARE, but the device drivers are a real pain to troubleshoot for my old ass graphics card.



Sorry my geek pun disorder is really acting up. ASK questions have a lot of secondary and tertiary thought dividends for me, I love this place.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:54 PM on March 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


"when i grow up, i wanna be just like quonsar!"
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:14 PM on March 9, 2014


when i grow up, i will evaluate technological devices on the ways they contribute to my purposes and think more carefully about software and apps. (really wish qiqqa worked on macs :( )
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:16 PM on March 9, 2014


"when i grow up, i wanna be just like quonsar!"

I gotta fish, if you got the pants...
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:33 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not a parent, but that question ran the conversation at dinner with friends about whether laptops (or macbooks specifically) were luxury items. I was really surprised at the number of people who viewed them as optional or luxuries at school or work.

To be clear, it was I that called a Macbook Air a "luxury item." I could never afford one as a starving student, and I certainly cannot afford one now. A Chromebook, on the other hand, is totally doable.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:42 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to point a couple of (non-mefite) friends to that askme, because they have a niece (she's about five now, I think) who has been just fascinated by the concept of "mistakes" for a couple of years. Whenever she comes to visit she like to ask people for examples of mistakes, and likes to discuss the difference/overlap between mistakes and accidents.
posted by rtha at 9:42 PM on March 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


do nothing to help them, because... it was an accident and helping would be hard and it's people fault for having stuff for us to break?

I didn't really see anyone saying this -- more like just a lot of "you can't squeeze a turnip", which is what I was getting at in my own response.

Personally I was pretty appalled at the number of people who said they would go into debt to replace the OP's computer that they already stated they had savings to cover the cost of, and were thinking about buying a new one anyway. I'd be upset if I pawned a precious item or took out a payday loan to help someone who didn't really need the money.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


To clarify, Sara C., I was only considering getting a MacBook Pro after my computer got fried. My consideration was whether to throw $500 towards a computer that already wasn't meeting my needs, or whether I should dig into my savings (which the additional cost for a refurbished computer would reduce by about 30%) to get something that will last me for the next four years or so and have storage and OS to handle new software I'm increasingly using for school. I think I must have expressed myself badly if I was giving the impression that I at all have the money to spare. I am substantially in debt, nearly crazy from working so much to live in our expensive area, and fighting for every dollar I have.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 9:53 PM on March 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


c'mon sea legs -- I totally feel you. I'm more surprised at answers other posters gave.
posted by Sara C. at 10:01 PM on March 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have no kids but I love talking about AskMe questions with friends. It gives me really interesting insights into how my friends think and is often very entertaining. There are some nice conversation starters on Ask, particularly in the human relations category.
posted by sockermom at 10:23 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't have kids and I really need this laptop for work purposes, so I settled on pouring a glass of water on my cat and then offering it a ten dollar bill. It did not take my money.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 PM on March 9, 2014 [67 favorites]


Cortex, Bubbelah, you gotta double that, c'mon man. You ain't been outta town that long.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:50 PM on March 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


My first college laptop was $2500 with the warranty, compared to with a MacBook Air today seems like very little, I guess. But I'm more baffled that people think that having a laptop near beverages is just asking for it. You can't go much of anywhere that someone won't have a water bottle, today. Or a coffee.
posted by Sequence at 11:03 PM on March 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wow, yeah, that thread totally surprised me. It's not that I don't think it would be cool, theoretically, if the spiller could afford the cost and offered to pay for a new computer, but to me this seems so unrealistically transactional I would never even think to ask.
posted by threeants at 11:22 PM on March 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm up late due to extra coffees from daylight savings time and I'm feeling chatty.


I work part-time for an Apple specialist shop. So just semi-informed anecdata here; I'd say we see one spill damage case a week that has cooked off the main logic board on average, but the amount of spills that don't hit the MLB and general moisture evidence when we open a machine is higher than that. What I wish people were more mindful of is that what is really precious is the data and it's so cheap and easy to run backups. The cases of "I fell asleep eating a bowl of pasta with pesto over my laptop and my only copy of my PHD dissertation was lost" and "the iMac full of birdshit with all of our financial records and no I was not aware that my parrot shitting down the back of my computer directly into the fan exhaust might be a problem" are certainly standouts of colorful disasters.

I will say our tech, who is a pretty laconic and mild fellow, yelling "Jesus Christ, were they straight up pressure washing bird shit into this thing?" is a highlight in a fairly long life of odd statements overheard.

Back it up folks or keep some valium on hand for when you get the bill for forensic data recovery, computers seem like magic, but they are not.

Keep your head up c'mon sea legs, we are all doing our best, yourself included.
posted by Divine_Wino at 11:44 PM on March 9, 2014 [42 favorites]


Not a parent, but that question ran the conversation at dinner with friends about whether laptops (or macbooks specifically) were luxury items. I was really surprised at the number of people who viewed them as optional or luxuries at school or work.

Yea, this is a conversation i've had with friends many times. And having just come home from a friends house where a few people were sitting around talking/making dinner/etc, it came up again because of that thread.

My theory about this, from very unscientific polling and several discussions with people about this over the past few years.

* If someone broke your phone in an accident like this: Most people would vote they should fix it.
* If someone broke your laptop: It's a total shitshow tossup, a lot like how the thread is.
* If they like, ruined your nice jacket/handbag/other nice clothing item: Basically everyone just says lump it.

You can, for the purposes of this discussion make all three items about the same price(lets say $3-500) just to be fair. the results will be about the same, usually.

It's an interesting discussion, and it really shows what the current zeitgeist is with relation to various items the vast majority of people will have.

A lot of people, depending on their age will view a laptop as a luxury item. A lot of people ESPECIALLY see anything apple as completely frivolous and a luxury item, that totally changes the discussion every time(speaking as someone who has had their mac damaged in an accident, and had one stolen).

There is also, however, a decent sized group of people who view it completely as a tool to get work done and generally side with the other person replacing it and won't snark at all.

On the other hand, nearly everyone views a phone, even a nice phone(besides some people who will snark about iphones, see the apple thing above), as pretty much a necessity of everyday life. This spans from young working poor people to affluent trust fund kids. At the upper swing end of it some people will just go "Oh, i'd just get a new one the next day!" but even just a bit below that everyone will be like "oh yea, i'd totally expect them to at least chip in".

I've retreaded this a lot with a decent sized number of people, and i'll admit i'm still bitter from accidentally breaking a friends iphone(when they were still a new thing, and there was no "get a cheap used one" option) in which i both immediately offered to pony up for but everyone agreed i should make him whole again somehow... and when a friend broke my macbook in a very similar way, and everyone was either like "that's weird and gross and transactional of you to want money" or some variant of "lol you could afford a $2000 mac laptop in the first place go buy a new one richie rich".

Somehow, paradoxically, as the value goes up peoples sympathy goes down. Even when we're still talking about amounts of money that even someone not super wealthy could conceivably save up for because they intended to use it for serious work/things they were passionate about fairly continuously.

I also, interestingly, watched it play out about the same way when my friends ~$500 basic costco laptop got destroyed by an accidental spill i witnessed. It was still a mixture between "meh, let it go" and nearly "you can buy a new one!" type stuff with only a few people for trying to claim some cash.

sorry if this is a weird derail or is a bit tangential, but it seemed like the only place to put anything remotely like this and i felt like writing it?....
posted by emptythought at 12:35 AM on March 10, 2014 [18 favorites]


To follow up on emptythought's thoughts, I think it has to do with how repairable/replaceable the damaged item is.

A phone is repairable. Usually the techs switches out the damaged parts. Or, if it's truly beyond saving, you can get a new one (same model) or a new one (different model), but even in the case of the latter, it usually more-or-less operates the same way. If my Nexus S kicked the bucket and I got a Nexus One instead, price difference aside, it's still going to operate in nearly the same way. Electronics, in that sense, are a lot more interchangeable, price difference be damned. By the same token, I'd lump a laptop in the same category as phones. Besides which, people generally have enough clothes that they won't go naked so it's not an immediate crisis, but they don't often have multiple versions of an electronic (OP has said her Chromebook isn't adequate to meet her laptop needs).

Clothing for me is very different. Fashions change quickly, stock comes and goes, and even if I walk into the same store I bought the clothes/handbag from there's no guarantee they'd still have it. It's hard to find a "new equivalent" item of clothing because of changes in colour, cut, wear and tear altering the fit, etc. I'd never expect a replacement item of clothing because most ruined clothing can't really be repaired, I don't think (it's not like you can swap out the front panel of a cashmere sweater and have it look the same), and it's a tossup of whether you can find the exact same one that'd fit in the exact same way, anyway. But if not directly replaceable, I'd at least expect a nice meal in apology.

Mind, I'd shrug off asking for money if someone broke an item of mine that was really cheap, even if it wasn't replaceable. But for something expensive like electronics, with its very quantifiable specs, I'd definitely expect chipping in or a replacement. Yeah, shit happens, but whereas a computer can't really be operated from the floor if you happen to be in a chair, the use of a waterbottle does not suffer if you put the waterbottle down onto the floor if you're not immediately drinking from it.

Coming from the other end, I was pretty astounded that there are people who would find it tacky if the OP asked for monetary compensation. No doubt it was an accident, but laptops are pretty critical for schooling these days. It'd be one thing if the OP was filthy rich and the at-fault friend was super broke, but they're both in the same boat financially, as far as I can tell.
posted by Zelos at 12:56 AM on March 10, 2014


* If someone broke your phone in an accident like this: Most people would vote they should fix it.
* If someone broke your laptop: It's a total shitshow tossup, a lot like how the thread is.
* If they like, ruined your nice jacket/handbag/other nice clothing item: Basically everyone just says lump it.


I must be a bit of an outlier. If I was the person who did the damage, I would feel like I should pay in every one of those cases. If it was my stuff, I'd be a bit miffed if the damager didn't offer to pay, and I don't think my amount of miffedness would vary based on which one of those things it was.

As for the thread in question, I don't have kids, but I asked my cat what she thought, and she let me know that knocking over glasses of water is awesome fun.
posted by lollusc at 1:09 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


(perception of malicious intent [very low] * impact on owner/victim [high] * perceived + actual clutz/perpetrator empathy ) - (investment in previous relationship [high] / cost of item [high] ) * (investment in future relationship [uncertain = medium/high]) = [$x > 0 ] or [$0] .

I bet the offer will be ~$100 because of very low malice.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:13 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Mac thing does seem to be a big part of it. I probably used to be similar. I think one of the things that made me shift my view was finding out that, like, unlike my old laptops? My aunt, who always buys Macs, is able to purchase *good* used ones that still run great... and then is able to sell them on again in a year or two and they're actually still worth something. So, if you're the sort of person who's willing to put in the minimal amount of effort to get the computer ready to sell when it's three years old, you can get at least part of that price back. Meanwhile, my Lenovo laptop, when it's three, will be junk, even though I love it. With my aunt, anyway, we worked out that her general cost of ownership was basically the same as mine.

So, okay, even if you're already looking at a new laptop, under that model, you're expecting to use the old one to pay for part of the new one. You weren't planning on being out-of-pocket for the whole cost of it. Phones, very similar--I use my phones until they die, but "sell the old iPhone to pay a big chunk of the cost of the new one" is definitely a thing. If those things get destroyed, you've lost an asset. If someone wrecks my Lenovo today, while it still does have some value, I'd expect more than when it was already on its last legs.
posted by Sequence at 1:16 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


do you use MetaFilter as a teaching or parenting tool

God no. I can just imagine my 7 year old saying to my wife, whilst glaring at me, DTMA.
posted by three blind mice at 1:17 AM on March 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I ask my kid AskMe questions over dinner. Then I post his answers to AskMe, and if he doesn't get a best answer or 10+ favourites, no dessert.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:07 AM on March 10, 2014 [29 favorites]


Not a parent, but

if I was, I'd leave Metafilter lying around like my parents did with National Geographics. Lots of cool angles on the weird and wonderful world and occasionally ... other stuff.
posted by philip-random at 2:14 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man, I clearly don't understand people. The idea that you can just, like, bust other people's expensive and important stuff and shrug it off as part of life is mind boggling. I agree with somebody above who sees it kind of like ask/guess culture.

Personally, if I broke someone's laptop I would immediately and unhesitantly offer to pay. If they took me up on it I would pay ungrudgingly. If they didn't accept I would be grateful but I would feel bad and would know they were doing me a big favor.

Conversely, if somebody broke my laptop I would expect them to offer to pay for it, and I would expect them to do so without reluctance if I accepted. Whether I accepted would depend hugely on my understanding of our relative finances. If they didn't offer to pay for it I would never ask them to as that would be gauche. But I would think terrible, terrible thoughts at them and would consider them to be big d-bags.

Ask Metafilter has the best social ethics questions! Now we just need someone to be confronted with the choice of whether to push someone else in front of a moving trolley in order to save several other people!
posted by Justinian at 3:21 AM on March 10, 2014 [26 favorites]


Dear Ask Metafilter, this is a true story. A stray cat, or possibly someone's outdoor cat, slipped into our house through a French door that had been cracked to let in some air. The dog was surprised and freaked out. The cat was surprised by the surprised dog and freaked out, scrambling up onto my desk onto my open laptop and crawling up the curtains, then falling from the curtains, landing back on the laptop, clawing into the laptop and ripping off several of the keys in the process. Now half my keys are wonky, and some don't work at all. Also destroyed: one water glass, one Japanese lantern lamp, and one small spiral bound notebook. Who should pay? The cat, the dog, or the unknown and possibly imaginary neighbors to whom the cat may or may not belong?
posted by taz (staff) at 3:33 AM on March 10, 2014 [11 favorites]


I wonder if you could do a cultural breakdown of the answers? My answer was one of the "no, you never ask for money from a friend for something like this" answers (though 100% if you are the person who breaks it, you should offer to pay) - and I genuinely think that all of my friends here would say the same thing. A propos of the discussion above, this would hold whether it was a phone as well.

I'm British, and I'm wondering if this is a culture-bound response? Asking for money from a friend (aside from borrowing money) is a massive no-no to me in any circumstance. Saying yes to money if they offer it first is fine - but no way could I ever ask.
posted by Vortisaur at 3:39 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


There are some questions that make me feel like a 110 year old "bootstraps" person. That was one of them. It's more than Ask/Guess for me. I wouldn't even think of phrasing that as "so-and-so BROKE my laptop." To me, that means they dropped it or snapped off the keys or downloaded malware that ate it. Instead, I'd have said that my laptop was broken when I took it to class and someone spilled their water bottle. There's a passivity to what actually happened that would make me loath to ask for repair money.

To be clear, it was I that called a Macbook Air a "luxury item." I could never afford one as a starving student, and I certainly cannot afford one now. A Chromebook, on the other hand, is totally doable.

I owned a PC when I was in college and couldn't afford the Mac. Similarly, when I was a starving student in college I didn't own the car that I wanted, I owned the car that I could afford.
posted by kimberussell at 3:39 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


Taz: Who left the door open?
posted by pompomtom at 4:46 AM on March 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


My kids are now at the stage where they ask me something and I say "I saw this on Metafilter, and the answer is yada yada yada" and they roll their eyes and go, "oh god, mum, is there no other website???".

They are also at the stage where, when no answer can be found, they ask me to go on Metafilter (see my most recent Askme).

(I am fucking terrified about them finding a couple of my early comments.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:20 AM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Taz, if the cat has an owner...I think they should pay. I can tell from the laptop thread and this one that other people will think that's crazy. I don't know WHY I think that, exactly. It's not something rational. It's gut-level instinct, created by some combination of dinner conversations I had with my parents when I was 8 and watching my parents interact with the world. If it was MY cat, and I found out that happened, I would offer to help pay.

I think it's one part "you are responsible for the sometimes-harmful consequences of yourself and your stuff in the world" (your car, your cat, your flailing arms near a water bottle and a laptop), and one part "relationships are the most important thing, more important than money, so make things right with other people so that they feel good about you."

In the laptop scenario? It doesn't even matter whose water bottle it was - whoever knocked it over should pay (in my gut-level, can't-explain-it morality). Adults are expected to be able to control themselves enough to not knock over water bottles/glasses, and when you do you have to repair any damage.

I spilled a glass of water on a roommate's MacBook two years ago and paid close to $1000, the replacement price. She kept the money and did not buy a new one. Totally fine.

Strange how powerful parents are in shaping who we become.
posted by amaire at 6:00 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was joking about the "who should pay" in my case; I'll eat the cost of critters being crittery, and be more careful about shutting outside doors when I'm not in the room. :)
posted by taz (staff) at 6:12 AM on March 10, 2014


I owned a PC when I was in college and couldn't afford the Mac. Similarly, when I was a starving student in college I didn't own the car that I wanted, I owned the car that I could afford.

I owned a Mac in grad school (and do now as well) because they last longer that the cheapo PCs. I paid $1100 for my current MacBook Pro 4 years ago, which makes it actually cheaper than the Lenovo I paid $600 for and that only lasted for 13 months before literally falling apart. Or the Dell I paid $500 for that died after about 17 months.

It's not a "luxury" item for me - I bought it because I was tired of replacing laptops every year. It would really bother me if it was damaged and people thought it should be no big deal to replace because it was more expensive in the first place.
posted by lunasol at 6:33 AM on March 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


WHAT ABOUT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR FELLOW MAN

To my mind, this line of thinking is backwards because it tries to answer the wrong question. The asker did not say "I spilled water on my friends laptop, should I pay?" If that was the question, then all the answers about personal responsibility would make sense.

Instead, the question we got was "My friend spilled water on my computer, can I hold her personally responsible?" and that's a much trickier question, not in the least because you can't arbitrarily assign personal responsibility to other people, that's not what personal responsibility is about.

That's what makes this such a great discussion question, it gets people thinking about how they would define their own personal responsibility in a given situation. The better sense you have of your own personal responsibility, the better these situations tend to work out. And that applies to both parties, the spiller and the spillee.
posted by grog at 7:24 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think that thread does include a really interesting insight into the assumptions underlying different people's ideas of property and interactions, and also the MeFi idea of ask vs. guess culture. For example, had I spilled the water, I would definitely offer to pay, but if someone spilled water on my stuff I would never, ever in a million years ask for money although if they didn't offer to pay I would bitch about them a lot.

Yeah, it's really fascinating and I agree. It's also interesting, I think, how much these assumptions contribute to unwitting conflicts between individuals. So many of us didn't just say "This is what I would do" but added "And I would be offended if the other person behaved any other way." And it's in my head too - I would definitely think "What kind of person breaks someone's property and doesn't replace it or offer to replace it?" But I grew up strongly valuing property, and if I were to not offer to pay in such a circumstance it would feel like a deliberate "Fuck you, I don't care about you." And paying an interpersonal debt - a debt of honor, if you like - would be prioritized over even paying other bills.

At the same time, though, what I'd be most insulted about would be the other person not valuing my friendship, or me as a person - demonstrated by the lack of payment. It wouldn't be about the money. And yet so many people don't have those feelings.

Essentially, what this question made me think about is how friendships break, over these small cultural assumptions that aren't shared anymore in an increasingly diverse culture where friends comes of all types.

I do not, however, share Ask questions with my kid, because I need to go to Ask about my kid, and thus I would prefer her never realize Metafilter exists.
posted by corb at 7:28 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


MeFi parents, do you use MetaFilter as a teaching or parenting tool, and if so how?

My daughter likes to sing the podcast jingle, so there's music ed. She can also sing along to a number of songs I've discovered/posted about here (and you should have heard our house just after Pete Seeger died. That thread sent me off on a YouTube binge and my daughter, in particular, really liked what she heard. Mama-brag: She's the only 6-year-old I know who can sing Woody Guthrie, Guy Clark, and Janelle Monae.).

My son sees me on the green, and will ask what I'm reading about, and sometimes it spawns good discussion. Thank God for the blue -- it has provided me with so much more random information than I would otherwise have, and I can't count the number of times that we've been talking about a particular subject, and I pull out some piece of trivia I recall from MeFi. You guys make me look like I know a few things, thanks! (It won't last. He's entering tweenhood early, so I'll be asking for advice on navigating it.)

Both my kids have seen me spend many happy hours tracking down links/answers for people I've never met. They've heard about meet-ups and understand the possibility that, despite current parenting wisdom, *not all strangers are ax murderers* (waves to Maryland Sheep and Wool attendees). They've met some pretty cool mini-MeFites. Valuable lessons, all.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:54 AM on March 10, 2014


It would actually be great if this thread did not become less-moderated meta-discussion about paying for laptops you have inadvertently damaged. Feel free to take it to chat or offer advice to the OP in the original thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've been trying to emulate you guys, but I have neither children nor pets. Please advise.

Option A
Option B
posted by drlith at 8:02 AM on March 10, 2014


drlith, go with option A! You'll have hair-raising fun (well, that could be true with either option but you just cannot turn down such a wonderful opportunity.)
posted by mightshould at 8:18 AM on March 10, 2014


I thought I would be a good parent and discuss this question with my son. His contribution to the discussion was "Truck! Big truck! Brrrrrm brrrrrrm!" Some additional comments about fire trucks were later added.
posted by medusa at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think anyone debating this who isn't starting from "well does the friend even have the money?" is not really thinking clearly about the situation.
posted by Sara C. at 9:11 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I didn't read the AskMe very well - or this MetaTalk post - but I just threw a bottle of water over my child and informed him that he now owes me a new computer. He's only three months old so he can't even argue with me! HA HA HA! Looks like quidnunc is the winner in THIS situation!

Oh wait he just crapped himself and now I have to clean it up. OK, quid-dad out.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:16 AM on March 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure the friend having money (or not) needs to enter into it. Friend can offer to pay back in increments. Especially since c'mon sea legs is busting ass working two jobs to get through school...

Tying the scenario back to this Meta: if a kid breaks or damages someone else's property, there is a fine tradition of parents making the kid pay back the damage over time using his/her allowance, or mowing lawns, etc. Adult friend can do the same.
posted by nacho fries at 9:22 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


I mean, ethically, is it technically the broke friend's fault? Sure. But, like, why create stress in the friendship if you know it's out of the question that they could pay?
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2014


I mean, the real answer is that the broke friend says, "I'll pay you for it - I'm sorry, I don't have a lot of money right now" and then the less-broke friend says, "Oh, don't worry about it - you can take me out to dinner sometime." But the offer needs to be made, honor needs to be satisfied, and fault needs to be admitted.

I think the hope is that the asking about money will prompt the broke friend to belatedly realize their error in not offering and try to make good, thus repairing the friendship.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I said stop. Stop.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on March 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


And again, people are doing that thing where they presume their own experience is universal and start making statements that basically castigate other people who don't share their feelings or viewpoint. That is annoying enough in AskMe but it's sort of toxic here. Please don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:33 AM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


When attempting to explain my reading of AskMe to non-Mefites, I say it's sort of like reading The Ethicist. Trying to come up with answers/seeing other people's viewpoints is always instructive for me even if I don't post, and I definitely like bringing up Ask issues in real-life conversation (including the laptop one). Don't think I'm likely to have kids but if I did, I bet I'd do like you, escabeche.
posted by mlle valentine at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't have kids but have been a teacher, and I think this was a great question for kids. So simple and everyday but with such an interesting combination of issues. It reminds me of Maupassant's story about the diamond necklace, which is also the sort of thing that fascinates kids.

Growing up with a lawyer as a father, a lot of issues that came up like this were turned into abstract arguments. I vividly remember my father saying about some kind of damage I'd caused, "It was your fault, but it wasn't intentional." (I'd exclaimed, "That wasn't my fault!" in the way kids often do.) I always thought that was so interesting and so empowering, being able to break situations down and identify what really mattered, what was objective and what wasn't, and so on.
posted by BibiRose at 9:37 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think anyone who is debating this here is doing it wrong since A) the post is about whether parents use askmes as a teaching moment/discussion prompt with their kids and B) mods have said to not debate the askme here.
posted by rtha at 9:39 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Corb, yes. I'm increasingly sure it's cultural. I've noticed that I've tended to have easy friendships with people with roots in a range of "developing" countries and fraught ones with people from wealthier ones, and a lot of problems I've had probably have to do with those kinds of cultural differences. (Plus my terrible personality of course.) But I struggle to change the way I respond. It's legitimately exhausting when you're coming from the point of view that there's a list of things you owe the other person and it feels like theirs is a list of things they don't owe you. To me that's what feels transactional, because it's as if the other person is too busy consulting some kind of friendship tax code to be concerned that you're in trouble. It leads to a lot of misunderstandings. I had a friend from SF who used to call me from the train station when she got in and say, "I'm afraid to walk home by myself after midnight. Would you walk over [by yourself after midnight] and meet me?" And I was amazed, and I could not imagine asking somebody to do that, but I did those kinds of things for her many times and ended up being disgusted with us both. I wouldn't have minded so much if we had done those kinds of things for each other, but my experience has been that, often, that won't happen, because one person has a chronic assumption that their problems are more real than the other's.

Which probably doesn't apply in this case. But to me, if you break something of your friend's and do nothing to help them out, it feels like you're saying, "The consequences of what I did are too much for me to bear; but for her? Eh."
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Shit, sorry jessamyn!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:42 AM on March 10, 2014


There's an open AskMe thread, if you want to go answer that question you can go there. No problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on March 10, 2014


Guys I just threw $500 at my computer, and now I owe jessamyn a bottle of water. When did the mods start issuing on-the-spot, liquid-based fines??? I voted #1 quidnunc kid like that dickhead is always telling us, and now I find out that the only "dickhead" here is me. Talk about irony! Anyway, it's a teachable moment for sure.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:43 AM on March 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


1. When mini-batmonkey gets old enough, I'll definitely use scenarios from AskMe to challenge her logic and ethics formulations.

2. I already use AskMe as a parenting aid, though. Even in the years before I knew she was possible. I was absorbing all of the advice and scenarios that Askers were brave enough to share and AskMe's hivemind were kind enough to attempt answering, and I've continuously absorbed so much great info ever since. And sometimes when I think I have a question, I just think about what AskMe would say and generally get a pretty good outcome. So, different than the question asked, but it's pretty awesome, so I had to throw that in.

3. I do not understand why people think it's okay to have an open water bottle on a work table then knock it over and not expect to pitch in to make right whatever ill effects occur. That really weirded me out. It's not like they were in the cafeteria or sitting on a park bench. Work table. Work. Table. In university!

4. And how is that folks are truly not understanding about a laptop (no matter the provenance) being an essential work item for university, especially graduate-level studies, at this point in time? There is no way I'd want to be doing complicated projects on a tablet, even if they could hold the necessary applications. I don't get why that's some kind of excuse for why this fact would make it totally inexcusable to let the friend know what the result of their actions was and what it'll take to fix it. If it were a $100 graphing calculator, would anyone's answer be different...?

5. Work table! Not water table!

6. Asker has all the info they need (you were so gracious!), so my answer would be superfluous at this point, but I'm in the "let the friend know the total for repairs and see what she does" camp, based on the Asker's described situation. If I didn't have some resources put away, though, I'd definitely go along the lines of, "hey, friend, I know that was an accident, but is there any way you could help me fix/replace the thing?" if they didn't immediately offer.

7. And, if I were the friend, I'd not only expect my friend to tell me the cost of my accident's impact, but I'd ask if they didn't.

8. Renter's insurance covers laptops harmed outside of home, even from water damage...?! This place is endlessly educational!
posted by batmonkey at 9:57 AM on March 10, 2014


Oh, man, so tempted to use edit to make comment more compliant! If it's any consolation, these are the exact same values I'm baking into my kid, and seeing that other people think differently is editing how I will be teaching this to her.
posted by batmonkey at 9:59 AM on March 10, 2014


I think it might have been a mistake for someone to link to this Meta in the AskMe question itself, since, as noted, this MeTa isn't really about the AskMe at all but rather inspired a larger conversation about using AskMe as a teaching tool.
posted by muddgirl at 10:22 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I gotta fish, if you got the pants...


I've got FISH, in my paaants.
(Gotta get those fish out of my pants!)

I've got FIISH, in my paaants.
(Get those fish out of there!)

I've got FISH, in my paaants.
(Goin' where the fish will take me!)

I've got fiiiish (I've got, I've got) I've got fiiish.... fish in my paants.


created by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
posted by Naberius at 10:39 AM on March 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


Why would you even have a water bottle on a water table? Would you put maple syrup on a maple tree? Would you put Gatorade in the Everglades?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:49 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I showed Cortex's video of "I knew you were Tribbles when you dropped in" to my daughter last year. She memorized it and taught it to the kids at summer camp. Thanks, MetaFilter!
posted by mogget at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: Jesus Christ, were they straight up pressure washing bird shit into this thing?
posted by cooker girl at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: Jesus Christ, were they straight up pressure washing bird shit into this thing?
posted by Madamina at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


GODDAMMIT

that was kind of beautiful
posted by Madamina at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2014 [13 favorites]


That's a helluva jinx.
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on March 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Fun fact totally off topic for this MeTa: Brannon Braga is the director of the new Cosmos series.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on March 10, 2014


It would be great if we could just talk in metatalk without getting shushed and prodded, when jokey "derails" look fine.. As someone whose toddler broke his laptop in this way, I have no recourse, but I would expect any friend to at least meet me halfway.
posted by lordaych at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Like yeah, that comment belongs in the OP. But, I was gonna say something like "you break laptop and don't pay me? I break you." Because I'm tough like that. But seriously no they are not your friend if they don't bother offering at all and should be be severely outcast unless they clearly have no means to pay, at all. In which case you should give them a place to crash so they can earn and pay.
posted by lordaych at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


My daughter likes to sing the podcast jingle

That's adorable! :-)
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2014


Getting back to the original post of this MetaTalk ... am curious. I have to interact with my cousin and his family shortly all afternoon. Are there other recent AskMe posts that people think would make good family discussion points? Philosophical, debate, something with no definite answer but several possible answers that could be argued, of interest to adults and children.
posted by Wordshore at 12:06 PM on March 10, 2014


ask 'em how they wipe their butts, sitting or standing, and whether they fold the paper like a normal person or crumple it like a weirdo
posted by twist my arm at 12:08 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


HEATHENS!!!
posted by Madamina at 12:13 PM on March 10, 2014


Also, if they read books while on the john.
posted by jamaro at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2014


Don't forget to ask whether they think it's appropriate to wear a fedora indoors.
posted by Sara C. at 12:23 PM on March 10, 2014


People can answer the question in the ask thread, but they can't discuss the answers there. Why is it so wrong to discuss the answers and reactions to the answers here?
posted by jsturgill at 12:37 PM on March 10, 2014


Well, it's kind of a "hey, that's nice about your kid and all, poster, but let's have a parallel argument about an askme instead of talking about what you brought up" thing that feels sort of not a great thing, especially when you've got principle participants in here basically arguing about their own answers in that thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on March 10, 2014


I read it more as the thread mirroring the kind of discussion asked about/reported in the OP. People here in this thread aren't just asserting viewpoints as being right and wrong, they're reflecting on perspectives and trying to find a context for them (assuming there weren't a lot of deletions or something).

I was looking forward to reading more of that sort of thing rather than jokey derails, recipes, and other Meta nonsense. Seems like a much more productive use of this space is all I'm saying, and not actually off topic even if not exactly what the OP wanted.
posted by jsturgill at 1:06 PM on March 10, 2014


I'm puzzled that people's insurance doesn't cover this kind of stuff.
posted by philipy at 1:49 PM on March 10, 2014


"So, kids: how would you dispose of a corpse ...?"
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2014 [12 favorites]


Why is it so wrong to discuss the answers and reactions to the answers here?

Add to what cortex said there's the issue of people not just discussing the answers but emphatically arguing for/against certain answers and that's basically starting an argument where there doesn't need to have one. In addition to this thread being about something else to begin with.

Since MeTa is mostly unmoderated except for occasional comments from us (and the rare deletion) this is annoying. MeTa is not supposed to be a backchannel for entire threads. If you need to argue with someone's approach or have something to say about the answers in a meta-way that is sometimes fine, but just generally a "let's have a more bullshitty version of the AskMe thread" is something you should probably do in Chat not here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:59 PM on March 10, 2014


It would be great if we could just talk in metatalk without getting shushed and prodded, when jokey "derails" look fine.. As someone whose toddler broke his laptop in this way, I have no recourse, but I would expect any friend to at least meet me halfway.

Just wait till they're like 16 and on their birthday buy yourself a new laptop and explain why. They'll understand.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:33 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


AskMetafilter questions were useful to me when I lived with my nieces, now ten and 17, because kids sure can be trying sometimes and good advice is good. But, Ask questions also sometimes served as topics of discussion if I saw something I thought the kids would have interesting thoughts about. Questions of ethics were always good fodder, because the girls have such different ideas about the world.

In fact, it was especially neat to get the perspective of the younger kid, contrasted with the more sophisticated take the teenager had. They grew up in a small mountain community with one school for k-12, in the same family, with the same values and lessons, the same friends and mostly the same exposure to experiences, and yet they come at things so differently sometimes.

Kids are interesting, and then they turn into interesting adults. Cool.
posted by Rocky Mtn Erica at 4:21 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


I ask this as a non-parent: Why would you need Ask Metafilter to provide food for thought for interesting discussions with your offspring, when you could watch episodes from The Bachelor franchise and discuss it with them? Again, not a parent, but it seems like the responses would be pretty fascinating.
posted by janey47 at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2014


Well, for one, because then I'd have to watch The Bachelor. I like MetaFilter.
posted by MeghanC at 4:49 PM on March 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


I have no kids to discuss with but WHAT I HAVE LEARNED:

I would never ask a friend to pay for an accident like that.

I will now and forever YELL at anyone who approaches my laptop with liquids. "WTF, GET THAT DRINK AWAY FROM MY LAPTOP."
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:56 PM on March 10, 2014


Fair enough, MeghanC, but at least you don't have to read The Bachelor to your children. I'm sure they would find it edifying!
posted by janey47 at 5:13 PM on March 10, 2014


obligatory previously?
posted by Mchelly at 7:22 PM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


My kids and I sort of use Ask all the time. They come home from lacrosse or football practice and ask, "Can I eat this?" Then when I cook something, they look at it and ask, "Are you sure this is safe to eat?"

As for the laptop example, I asked them what I would say and they both looked at me and said that I would say, "Leave me out of it. You two work it out on your own and that does not include punching each other. It means use your words."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:33 PM on March 10, 2014


I don't recall discussing ethical questions from Ask with my kids, but I've definitely talked about and shown them things I saw on Metafilter. My ten year old is familiar enough with how the site works that on several occasions when I haven't known the answer to a question she asked, she's advised me to ask Metafilter. Of course, on other occasions, she's walked by the computer, rolled her eyes at me and said in THAT tone of voice, "Are you reading Metafilter AGAIN?"
posted by Dojie at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2014


I'm puzzled that people's insurance doesn't cover this kind of stuff.

No one whose a college student has insurance. Hell, no one i know in their early 20s has insurance on anything but the minimum cheapest legal amount they can get on their car if they have one.

Renters insurance isn't mandatory in buildings around here, so yea. NO ONE does. Because it costs money.

The only people i know who have insurance are peoples parents who own their own homes.

I could go off on another rant here about how mefi is full of people who are middle class or upper middle class, and then go "Oh weird what?" when people don't have things that seem completely standard to them. It's total unexamined privilege, and to me it regularly sounds like people using the phrase "i summer in" while using summer as a verb to describe somewhere they took a vacation too. The original ask thread was full of that crap too.
posted by emptythought at 1:49 AM on March 11, 2014 [10 favorites]


I don't use it a heap for teaching moments with my monsters, but I use it daily for teaching moments for myself and....basically anybody who stops long enough near me for me to draw breath.

I quote you people all the time. Well, I seldom attribute it, if I'm honest. But thanks for making me look good. Hope to do the same for you all one day.
posted by taff at 3:13 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I used the "First Kiss" post as a parenting aid this morning to get my teenaged daughter to stop lollygagging around on my bed (3 feet from my desk) and get ready for school.

"What are you watching?"
"Why are you watching that?!?!"
"Ewwww! GROSSSSSS!!!"
[Sulks off to get dressed]
posted by drlith at 5:52 AM on March 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


"let's have a more bullshitty version of the AskMe thread" is something you should probably do in Chat not here.

Wait, please let's NOT have that in Chat. Chat is pretty much "let's have a better and more awesome version of AskMes before they are asked", not shittier. In fact, being shittier is actively frowned upon and it's great. The last thing needed is people shitting up Chat thinking it's a fightground.
posted by corb at 7:22 AM on March 11, 2014


Bullshitty = "I am just bullshitting about this maybe not just answering the question" not "This is bullshit" Sorry for the confusion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 AM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh yeah that stuff is great! Sorry for getting all MUST DEFEND CHAT. In my defense, Chat is pretty awesome.
posted by corb at 11:34 AM on March 11, 2014


...Chat is pretty awesome.

55 days to go...
posted by Wordshore at 1:53 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I tried this with my fiance last night. He was already like 70% asleep, and we both basically agreed, so it was a pretty short conversation. The cat thinks that spilling water on stuff should be punishable by stern hissing and face-batting with claws out, but only a little.
posted by kavasa at 2:30 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


We discussed that question with our nine year old son because I thought it was a meaty ethical problem. He thought about it for a long time and finally decided that the two friends should split the cost because he felt culpability was also evenly spread. But what amazed him in the end was the number of possible opinions it was possible to have about the issue. And that alone was the best thing he learned I think.
posted by firstdrop at 10:34 PM on March 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just thought of you guys when I drunkenly spilled my beer on the bar (and also some guy who I had just met's phone) tonight! I offered to pay for the phone. (It was fine, still worked, and I don't think he'd have taken me up on it but...) What I actually said was, "Does it still work? Do I have to buy you a new phone? I mean, I don't want to, but I totally will..." But, charmingly. Flirtatious-like. And it wasn't broken. So, yay! I might also still be drunk.
posted by Weeping_angel at 3:20 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I said parenting aid, not marital aid.
posted by escabeche at 7:32 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't expect I'd have anything to contribute so I didn't read this entire thread. I hope it is ok to offer an example of how I've used Ask Metafilter in problem solving/ethical discussions with little kids.

I asked yesterday about how to fix an air pillow.

My four year old nephew came along just as I was getting ready to deal with the pillow: I had it, glues and duck tape lined up. I showed him the problem and my question. (His vote was for gorilla glue… not at all related to the cartoon gorilla on the tube I’m sure.)

I told him that I didn't know the answer so I was going to “ask people on the internet.” He still doesn't get that people talk to each other on the internet. (That’s his computer literacy level, I know it’s worse than other kids known to people here).

I let him hit “post” after I typed the question.

Later on I’ll show him that “I got answers from the internet.” That'll show him that the internet is more than youtube.

There’s another layer too. Out of nowhere he's started talking to me about “good deeds.” It is really surprising because, to put it delicately, “good deeds” are not in the inventory of tools his caretakers use to interact with the world.

Apparently he got it from a tv show. Ever since I've been irrigating the "good deeds desert" he's being raised in by pointing out concrete examples of “good deeds” when I can... without seeming weird. The pillow thread and debaser626 gives me another example for him!
posted by vincele at 9:01 AM on March 21, 2014


vincele, I added an answer to your Ask, which you may find helpful, or merely discouraging.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2014


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