Beckett Drives # 13 – Online Safety and Responsible Social Media Use for Kids

As a father, I have a responsibility to protect my kids, not only in life, but online.

Monitoring and checking on their computer and social media use is an important part of any parent’s job to raise a child.

Don’t let your kids get involved in social media unless they know how to use it responsibly.

And always monitor what they’re doing online, because bad things happen, and the more you know what your kids are up to, the better position you’ll be to address these issues.

Fated To Be Fat

Credit: Gillette Venus

Earlier this week I was caught in the social media cross hairs a bit after a tweet I sent rubbed some folks the wrong way. As a person who has struggled with weight for most of his life, I wanted to make a statement that was a bold conveyance of what I’ve been exposed to in my quest to be healthy. Fat shaming.

This particular tweet was met with resistance from so called “fat acceptance advocates” who recoiled in disgust that fat people couldn’t be considered attractive. But, especially in my experiences, the above is true. But no one wants to talk about it. So let’s talk about it.

Obesity

Obesity stats are staggering in the United States. Nearly 66% of adults in the United States are overweight. That’s an increase of nearly 40% over the last 50 years. 70 million people (roughly 50/50 men/women) are obese, that’s about 20% of our population. 57 million adults are diagnosed as pre-diabetic, with 23 million now diabetic, and these numbers are predicted to go up as the health crisis of obesity affects more people. Life expectancy has gone down in large part to this epidemic. So what’s caused it?

With access to cheap, unhealthy food, and the severe lack of exercise and activity in children and adults in the United States, the problem only increases as we become more technologically savvy. These days, not only is the access to food easier, but you can now have it delivered. Cooking as a skill has vanished, and most folks eat out as in the early part of 2016, the food service industry reported nearly $750 billion in revenue.

Unhealthy foods are cheaper and access is easier than at any other time in history. This is fueling the fattening up of America, and my own experiences have helped to shape my views of this epidemic.

The Fat Pilled Dad

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.

When I started 6th grade, I was a whopping 220 lbs, but only 5’10”. I was bullied and harassed constantly as I also had ample man boobs. I was made fun of most every day, victimized simply because I was fat. I had the trifecta (fat, glasses, man boobs), so I wasn’t spared the punishments of bullies. This harassment then doubled in on itself, causing me to stress eat. It was a vicious cycle that many young Americans are going through now. I did, however, see a change as I started to get involved in sports and other activities in high school.

My sophomore year in high school, I shot up to 6″4, thereby making my fat disappear as it had more height to cover. I started to lean out as I continued to be involved in activities. This period in my life was my a good fitness time, where between high school and college, I was exercising pretty regularly. I played soccer, basketball, and racquetball, and was involved in marching band most of my high school career. I really started to see the benefits of exercise in this time, but my memory was short lived.

As I graduated high school and then college, I still had periods where I would be inactive and gain weight back. I would go between my target weight of 250 and back up to 280. I tried diets, and would again and again realize that my activity would seem to determine my weight loss. My senior year of college, I would leave class and do drive thru food everyday, sometimes eating 15-20 bucks worth of food. I didn’t go to the gym, and my inactivity was out kicking my caloric coverage. This yo-yo diet continued until my marriage in 2005.

After my marriage, the blue pilled beta took over and I ballooned to over 300 lbs. I would take down a large plate of nachos with ease, order 20-25 bucks worth of fast food, and continued my bad habits. My ex-wife didn’t like to cook, and although she was a dietitian, we would eat out at a record pace. My ex and I would have periods where we would get back into shape, doing Beachbody and getting back to the gym, but my diet would always hurt my progress. I flirted with 300 on several occasions after getting down to 270. Stress eating was the story of my life, with my sugar intake going crazy every time I was at work.

Then came my wake up call…

The Mortality Epiphany

I got the news one day at work.

A good friend of mine, a 40 year old divorced father of three, had suffered a massive heart attack, and died. Andy was a great guy, and this three kids lost an amazing person. He had just been through a terrible divorce after his wife cheated on him, and was engaged to another woman who we really didn’t support as his next wife. It connects that most men who are blue pilled suffer from obesity issues. But he was just trying to live his life and move on, start over. And just like that, he was gone.

I was in the middle of a separation with my wife, and at 39 years old, and as a father of two, I was shaken. This was a man who’d eaten about the same way I had, had also been a high school football star, and was very close to me in his life habits and experiences. This type of thing could happen to me. And where would my kids be? Where would this leave them?

This was officially the low point of my life. I tipped the scales at 305 lbs. and was in the midst of severe depression. My kids, upon hearing the news of my friend’s death, told me they were worried about me. They didn’t want their dad to end up in the same way. Nothing shocks a system more than listening your kids tell you that they’re worried about your health.

“Dad, we love you and we don’t want you to die.”

The Long Fight Back

So, I had to do something. Along with my kid’s concerns, my ex-wife’s insults of my weight, and even women I was trying to date commenting that “they don’t date or sleep with fat guys,” I knew what I had to do.

I’ve often extolled the benefits of therapy in my blog, and once again, I was helped in yet another way by it. One day, not long after my children expressed their concerns, my psychologist told me straight up, “You’re fat. you’ve been fat most of your life. Why don’t you change that?” I was speechless. I was being fat shamed by my doctor…

“The nerve”, I thought. But what could I do? He was correct. I needed to get this done and never look back. So on the eve on my 42nd birthday, at a bit over 295 lbs, I finally committed to my new life. I renewed my gym membership. I started walking during work. I turned down the donuts. I started cooking more. My meal preps would be legendary. More water was consumed. I started intermittent fasting. The weight started to come off. My clothes were fitting looser. I watched my pants size drop from 42 to 38. In a matter of 6 months, I dropped close to 30 lbs, and went from 40% body fat to 29.9%.

It was happening, finally. I was doing it.

My gym commitment jumped from cardio two times a week to 4-5 days a week strength training. My meal prep included less carbs, and more veggies and protein. I was learning. I was reading. I was doing it.

Today, I’m down to 265 lbs. I’ve lost 40 lbs, and 5 inches off my waist. I still have work to do, but I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt. I’m in better shape than men 10 years younger than me.

I do a ton of body weight exercises, as well as squats and dead lifts. Strength training, meal prep, and intermittent fasting have been my go to’s. My goal is 250lbs and 15 – 18% body fat. And also the ability to be active with my kids, as well as inspire them to stay healthy. My poor relationship with food has been replaced by my kids and I cooking healthy meals together. They will respect the food they put in their body, as well as the importance of being active.

So back to the crux of this blog post. Fat shaming worked for me. It took everyone telling me they were concerned about my health, and several women I was interested in telling me straight up that they weren’t attracted to fat guys to get me to take action. The shaming felt bad enough to get me to make a change, finally, especially when I had a decent support system to do this.

I will say this. Every person out there who’s had a problem with weight their whole lives needs to see a therapist. Being fat is not only a physical problem, but it’s primarily a psychological one. Low self esteem fuels the collapse into terrible eating habits and lack of activity. So getting in to see a good shrink is paramount to starting your weight loss journey. I would also recommend a personal trainer who pushes you. People need to get out of their comfort zones, and with fat shaming, it really pushes people to take control and make progress. So yes, I’m saying that fat shaming is a good thing.

The Fat Acceptance Phenomenon

Credit: Cosmopolitan Magazine

Just like those who avoid asking a girl out due to their overwhelming fear of rejection, fat people have accepted that they’re fat while fearing the work and pain it takes to get themselves back into shape.

So, the relatively new Fat Acceptance movement has come about. A fear has promoted a movement, and it’s growing day by day. It’s also a symptom of the JBY (Just Be Yourself) movement, stifling other options for being a better person and getting active and fit. Now, just like feminism, it promotes an atmosphere of fat people as a minority status, even giving them protected minority status with the likes of LGBT movement.

Fat people should not be treated as a protected class. They aren’t. Fat acceptance is treating an obvious mental and physical health disorder as something that should be celebrated. Ill health should not be celebrated. It should be treated. So yes, I’m with the women who fat shamed me. It’s not attractive to be fat. It’s not sexy to be fat. Fatness is a turn off. And most importantly, it’s unhealthy. It’s not like being gay, lesbian, trans or a minority. It’s not a class of people. It’s a poor state of body and mind.

The newest reach of the fat acceptance genre is the “dad bod”. We’re told by countless magazines that the dad bod is in. It’s not. It’s still unhealthy, and in general experience, women want a six pack ab set over a dicky-doo any day.

So, America, you need to be fat shamed. I’m taking action to correct my lifelong issues with weight. I’m still working on it, but I know I’m going to get there. So start seeing your mental health professionals, set up a meeting with a personal trainer, and start eating like your life depends on it.

Because it does.

Panem et Circenses

Juvenal – Roman satirical poet
In Satire X, Juvenal laments about the days past of a strong, united Rome that took it’s civic duties seriously, fought for the empire, and represented the strength of their conquests.   Roman men fought in wars to expand their empire, participated in government, and gave all other civilizations pause as to the impressiveness of the Roman civilian / soldier / governmental representative.  
It was a time when honor, strength, and abilities of it’s subjects made Rome the greatest empire in history.  In fact, one of this blogger’s most admired men, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a legendary figure who at one time abdicated absolute power, was a symbol of Roman manliness and virtue.  I recommend reading up on him…for there’s a reason a city in the US was named after him.
When Juvenal wrote about “bread and circuses” in the early days of the early 100’s A.D., he was in the midst of a period of incredible stability.  The period was known as “The Five Good Emperors”, was the longest, uninterrupted peace in the Roman Empire.  In fact, when Juvenal wrote Satire X, Trajan was just beginning the expansion of the Roman Empire to it’s largest extent, from Spain to the Arabian Sea.  
So what are “bread and circuses”?  It was a saying developed by Juvenal to describe the declining Roman citizen.  After years of taking up arms, the Romans had let others fight their wars, enslaved all they conquered, and had resorted to a life of sloth, greed, crapulence, and laziness.  They did not take pleasure in ruling, they took pleasures in eating, drinking, socializing, and enjoying their spoils.  Thus, the “bread and circuses” distinction was one of the Romans becoming mindless sheep, only interested in drinking, sexual experimentation, and who won the latest race at the Circus Maximus.  
So why do I do a blog about this topic?  What does this have to do with being Red Pill aware?
The term “plugged in” was obviously from The Matrix, a movie with so many comparisons to Ancient Rome.  We are in a plugged in environment, with social media dominating us everyday, our need to get validation from total strangers continues to grow.  We actually get a dopamine high from someone liking our posts, and just like a drug, we continue to post hoping that next comment, retweet, or like will go viral, making us popular with the human race.
As a blue pilled beta, my life was dominated by social media.  I followed thots (those hoes over there) on Instagram, hoping that my one comment would get their attention and they would DM me.  I posted on Facebook hoping for validation of my feelings, my aspirations, my desires.  I posted on Twitter and started internet fights with complete strangers, hoping someone would validate me and my opinion.
My screen time on social media as a blue pill exceeded 4 hours a day.  Always worried about who would like my post, always screening any notifications that someone liked my post.  I was a sheep.  I was more plugged in than I had ever been.

So if you’re immersed in the world of social media and not focusing on yourself, your goals, your dreams, and your ambition, you’re in effect enjoying “bread and circuses”.

You’re watching all the life around you while not working on yourself.  You’re sheep.

Source:  Gizmodo Australia

CUT IT OFF

So what to do? You cut if off.  I decided to distance myself from social media.  I deleted all apps.  I went dark on all platforms for almost 3 months.  It became necessary to focus all of my attention on myself.  I needed validation, but from me.  I became more self aware of what destructive habits I was involved in online.  I unfollowed the thots, some of whom wondered where I went.  
“Why aren’t you following me anymore?”  one asked.  
“Because, I need to follow myself.” I stated bluntly.
I didn’t need to waste time validating others or trying to validate myself in their eyes.

So, do it.  Uninstall Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…everything.  Until you are ready to use it in a manner that doesn’t require you to check it every 10 seconds for validation, it should be gone.  Don’t explain it to anyone either.  Say, “I needed my life back.”

So what were the results of this self imposed exile on social media?
I began to discover that the world around me was more than just fleeting internet dopamine gains.
I went to the gym, I read, I discovered.  I talked to people.  I hit on girls, I dated, I had amazing sex.
In short, I was living the life I was trying to portray to complete strangers on social media, except I wasn’t sharing it with any of them. 
After I had cut off social media, I wasn’t in any hurry to get back and show off my new life.  The only reasons, I figured, to get back on social media was to make money, help others, and teach men about what I had went through.  So I made a plan for when I actually got back on, and I haven’t wavered from it.  
I strongly recommend giving up social media to focus on yourself.  It will be tough, as those who relied on you to be their validation will come calling, wondering where you went.  And when they do, just say one thing.  
“I got a life.”

Dear Younger Self

Recently on my twitter feed, I had the opportunity to do a quick top ten list of things I would tell my younger self.  I was so proud of it, I have to post it here as well.  
While it doesn’t necessarily cover everything I would say, these points of emphasis are very important to not only older men going through a life reset, but also younger men in need of guidance.

And, also, unofficially,  the last bit of advice I can give, is LEARN.  Be willing to learn.  Don’t ever miss an opportunity to learn from those that have been there before you.  I continue to learn from all sorts of sources, and I won’t stop.  Absorb.  Grow.  Be the best man you can be.