The Dad Who Shot His Daughters Laptop: 7 Reasons The Majority Are Wrong

Today’s post is a guest post by the novelist and essayist, Jane Devin. We’re delighted she stopped by to bark and walk in our back yard and welcome her any time she wants to wander in. If you haven’t already, buy her book, Elephant Girl. It is nothing short of amazing.

Earlier this month, a YouTube video of a fed-up father who shot up his daughter’s laptop after she posted a disrespectful letter about her parents on Facebook went viral on the internet. This is the video:

On YouTube

A few words up front: I was not a perfect parent and sometimes not even an adequate one. I don’t know Mr. Jordan or his daughter well enough to speak to their true characters, intentions, or their family dynamics.

What I do know is what Mr. Jordan chose to make public. First, his 15 year old daughter wrote a scathing post against her parents which many people, including me, thought made her sound like an entitled brat. She posted it on Facebook and her dad found it through their dog’s account (seriously). Second, Mr. Jordan decided to teach Hannah a lesson by posting a video to her Facebook wall. After going off on his own diatribe, which I found not too horrible (hey, parents are people, too — our feelings get hurt and we don’t appreciate being disrespected,) Mr. Jordan decided to put several rounds of bullets into his daughter’s computer. That’s where his family drama became ugly for me.

A majority of parents (and by my count mostly women), lauded Mr. Jordan with praises like, “It’s great to see someone actually parent” and “The brat got what she deserved – I bet she won’t dare act that way again”. It takes a lot to shock me, but these kind of comments did. Here’s why:

1) If it was any other authoritarian relationship — say, employee/employer, teacher/student — people would have been up in arms over the destruction of property in order to teach a lesson, not applauding the act. If someone provided a computer to their employee or student and then shot it up when they found them abusing it, most of us would think they were nuts, even if they did pay for what they destroyed. We wouldn’t be praising the “lesson” they were teaching.

2) The “lesson” that it’s somehow okay to destroy someone’s property when you feel disrespected, even if it’s something you bought as a gift, teaches that destruction and revenge are appropriate responses. It seems to me that a lot of people who grow up with that lesson are the same ones who do things like slash the tires of their boyfriend’s car when they find out he wasn’t faithful.

3) The definition of vandalism is “deliberate, mischievous, or malicious destruction of public or private property.” The law may have given the father the right to control his daughter’s use of property, and he could argue that the property was ultimately a gift he bought and then reclaimed, but the spirit of vandalism remains. He deliberately and maliciously destroyed something even he admitted was his daughter’s.

4) Discipline and revenge are not the same thing. That’s why comments like “finally, a parent acting like a parent” stunned me. Since when is an act of vengeance the same as discipline? While I understand people’s frustration with kids who are spoiled or act “entitled” I fail to see how shooting up a child’s possessions can, in any way, be considered good parenting or intelligent discipline.

5) The public doesn’t know, can’t know, both sides of the story. The dad said his daughter was grounded for three months before for doing something “similar” and “stupid.” To those who say the girl was previously spoiled and therefore needed a harsh reminder of her place, I’d counter that a three month restriction seems pretty drastic and not lax at all. A quarter of a year is a long time in the life of a teen — and there are few teenagers who don’t repeat their mistakes. And that list of chores? How long did they take in reality? Did the girl also work at her stepmom’s business, as she claimed? Was she given adequate time outside of school to be a kid? We don’t know. While the girl’s letter was nasty — I especially took exception to the “cleaning lady” bit — maybe she had her own and possibly legitimate reasons for being frustrated.

6) Like Hannah’s father, I also left home at 16. I was mostly self-supporting by the age of 14. I don’t think it made me a better or more responsible person, and I would not wish that kind of necessary but early independence on any teenager. I have no problem with a 15 year old having a part-time job, but unlike Hannah’s dad I don’t view it as a requirement. I think a child’s primary job is to go to school. I think learning social skills and having friends and activities is also important. There’s plenty of time and occasions in life to go to work at Burger King for minimum wage. At 15, I think a job should be a choice, not a condition of living happily under your parent’s roof.

7) Another viral YouTube video was that of a judge who was shown spanking and yelling at his then-teenage daughter for being disobedient. He had told her not to download music from the internet and she did. The majority of parents condemned the judge for his abuse, which was blatant and easy to see. Almost no one in that case called the girl a spoiled brat or praised the judge for his parenting skills. Yet Mr. Jordan was lauded for shaming his daughter publicly by posting his video on Facebook and YouTube — an act that will have consequences for her years into the future — and for taking a gun to his daughter’s property in order to prove that he was the man in charge. The hallmarks of domestic violence are not always physical. The six signs of an abuser are: Dominance, Humiliation, Isolation, Threats, Intimidation, Denial and Blame. Again, I do not know Mr. Jordan outside of what he has made public, but I see all six signs in the behavior exhibited in his video. He asserted his dominance, humiliated his daughter, promised to isolate her through restriction, threatened her with promises that her life was about to get “a whole lot harder,” intimidated her by showing her his power, denied that she had any right to complain, and then blamed her for his own overreaction, which was to put several rounds of ammunition into her property. I do not see much of a moral difference between the physical abuse of the judge and what Mr. Jordan did. Both men showed a lack of self-control and used their power wrongly. To condemn one while praising the other is, to me, hypocritical at best.

I believe in discipline. I don’t believe in destruction. I believe that good parents have a right to demand respect. I don’t believe respect is achieved through acts of violence. I believe children should know that their parents are human and can get angry and have hurt feelings just like anyone else — but I think it’s a parent’s job to model an appropriate way to deal with frustration. The use of a gun to make a point is never appropriate. Ever. That many people think it is — that the majority of comments praise Mr. Jordan — doesn’t make him, or the majority, right.

Who are you?

Social Media cares... about itself

On Nov 15, The New York Times published a story about Facebook forcing Salman Rushdie to use his real name — Ahhmed — on his profile, even as he is commonly known as Salman. Facebook makes the argument that forcing people to use their real identities creates a more civil discourse on the Internet.

Bull crap.

Google and Facebook want you to use your real name because they want to sell you to merchants who buy their ads. Merchants can’t and won’t buy anonymous or aliased users. Facebook and Google have no interest in policing good behavior on the Internet, but they know the real argument for your real identity won’t be picked up by technologists.

In fact, the parrots are already squawking the “civil discourse” talking points without any proof that it is true.

When companies and governments justify their actions with “for your security” or “for your convenience,” start clutching your wallet.

Follow the money, folks.

Privacy and autonomy

Betty and Don Draper sitting in a car
Before I delve into my post, I need to share the series of events that lead me to my thinking about privacy and its relationship to autonomy. Bear with me; it is a badly-paved and less travelled road*.

Watch that pothole….

A couple weeks ago, I read an article that appeared in the New York Times that said “privacy and autonomy… are central to male gender identity.” Later that evening as I was watching an episode of Mad Men (Season two, episode three, The Benefactor,) with the article still bouncing around inside my head, I saw this one itty-bitty little look in Don Draper’s face that I had missed the first time around. This one little scene gave me all the clarity I needed about the real issue of privacy. (You’ll have to watch episodes much later for the plot line. The look was also foreshadow.)

Betty and Don had just finished dinner with Bobby and Jimmy Barrett where Jimmy had to apologize to the Schillings for some bad behavior earlier. During the ride home, Betty gets all teary-eyed at the thought of her and Don “working” together as part of a team.

In the Betty and Don Draper relationship, this is when things started falling apart. When Betty decided that she was part of his team, she threatened his autonomy. She threatened a carefully-crafted and guarded identity that he alone owned and controlled. Don lived by the Hobo Code. The first rule of the code is to “decide your own life…” Betty being a part of the “Ad-Man Don Draper” meant he could no longer manage that life — that identity — with autonomy.

I’m a big fan of Mad Men, not so much the story but the cultural layers the series examines, uncovers and winks back at the viewer with that “I know you saw that, but it never happened” look. Privacy is a huge theme woven throughout the story.

When we talk abut privacy, I think we are really talking about autonomy. Ultimately it does not matter a whole lot what others know about us but it would be naïve to believe that what others know about us would not be used against us. We see this popping up with abandon all over in socially acceptable behavior.

It’s now ok to take embarrassing photos of your friends sleeping in an airport and share with everyone on Facebook.

It’s now ok to blab to the media about intimate details of a celebrity relationship gone bad.

It’s now ok for a publisher to offer a talented writer less than her work is worth because she writes on her blog about being impoverished.

It’s now ok to rescind a job offer because a candidate’s online friends are not conformists.

Privacy is not the thing we should be guarding; autonomy is. Privacy is the hard shell that guards the real plumb center of autonomy. Marketers and those who seek power at all levels know it. To get people to willingly share the details of their lives and how these details interconnect with those around them was pure genius. Evil, but still genius.

A loss of privacy ultimately leads to a loss of autonomy. The consequences of the loss of autonomy is what the Mark Zuckerbergs and his generation do not understand. While our leaders wring their hands over issues of privacy, marketers and power-seekers are already deftly filleting our autonomy.

Privacy is dead. It was necessary to kill it off so we could get at your autonomy.

How will you guard your autonomy now that the Sentry Privacy has been knocked off his post?

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you

— Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah

*I wonder if my blog would qualify for a road and bridge repair grant from the US Government under the Jobs Act. Hmmmmm…

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about exploring the theme, Privacy To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

Was it live or was it Facebook?

Is it live

Yesterday, @damnredhead tweeted:

“Hey baby, did you show up in my ticker last night or was I just dreaming?”

I chuckled quickly and shook my head slowly from side to side like most of her readers probably did. I got the double entendre.

But then I got to thinking about it a little more deeply. Will the timeline really get us confused about where we are, what is real and what isn’t?

I found myself sitting in a Starbucks yesterday waiting for my daughter to finish class at the local college. Her car had broken down on the way home from school the day before and it was in the shop. I was her ride for the day. I had scooped up my MacBook and MiFi to get some work done while I waited. (I got nothing done, but that is an aside… I should not have told you that.)

As I was tapping away on the twitter and Google+, it occurred to me that even as I was sitting somewhere else, the view of my world did not change as long as I was staring into the laptop that I work on in my office. My world was the same 1900×1600 screen. Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes. I’m not usually one to make a metaphorical reference of Facebook to a dog’s butt, (ok, I am) but in this case it was the perfect metaphor.

I hope we don’t start losing touch with whether or not something happened in real life or on Facebook. Studies show that people recall the experience in nearly the same way, whether the experience was offline or online. (I heard it on NPR, but their site is so bad at curating that I couldn’t find it. If someone does, drop the link in the comments.)

That is what Facebook knows and hope you will never ask of yourself — Was that live or was that Facebook? (I stole that from the old Memorex tag line, “Is it live or is it Memorex?“) The timeline feeds us real-time information about what our friends are doing. Many of us will not be able to look away. Many of us will feel as engaged with the timeline as we would in person. Really.

In a generation or so, when media starts asking, “Where were you when…?” I wonder how many of us will be confused about whether we were there in real life or there virtually? I wonder what a memoir of the future will read like?

*As an aside, I don’t think I have ever written a blog post with so many parenthetical references or blatant commercial linking before…. or have I? And is this really an aside or germane to my theory?

What Kenneth Cole knows that you don’t

Kenneth Cole

He knows that if you are one of the bloggers and tweeters who are all up in arms about his use of the #egypt hastag in his tweet yesterday, you’re probably not one of his customers.


Because you scream at having to put up $60.00 for a quality WordPress theme. Or balk at a $20/month membership fee for anything more than freemium. And you think Chris Brogan is a sell-out and you think that open source should mean even the support is free. He knows that you are a cheap-butt user who demands free software and unlimited support.

And he knows that you are not going to spend more than $28.88 for a pair of shoes.

He knows that you are really not his market. His market doesn’t really know what a hashtag is and doesn’t really care. What they know is fashion. And hashtags don’t even register on their radar.

Who are all these people climbing all over the Kenneth Cole Facebook page in a fever to comment about what a horrible thing he did? Haters. But they are not his customers.

And he knows the more he is hated by the commoners, the more his customers will want to be just like him.

That is what Kenneth Cole knows.


Why Skype+Facebook makes a ton of sense

The rules for us old timers are: 1) Never leave a voicemail or send an email that you didn’t want repeated. 2) Always call from a pay phone when you didn’t want Caller ID to show up 3) Phone calls were never evidence because they could not be recorded without your permission. In short, you had an expectation of reasonable privacy on a personal phone conversation.

Skype, Google Voice and the whole crop of VoiP phones are throwing all those rules out of the window. All of them have been working on text-to-speach as a way of delivering “convenience” to their users. But since the actual phone call also flows through a digital stream and is data, not voice as regulated by the FCC, it is just more content that can be transcribed by a text-to-speach engine. Once transcribed, it can be matched up with keywords and ads can be served in real-time to your Facebook or Gmail as you talk.

Pretty handy, eh?

Are you sure you want to keep using Skype or Google Voice? You will. They know you will.


So like sheep, these media types

Lifted from BBC

Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people? Undergraduate Soraya Mehdizadeh of York University claims to know the answer and has researched this question for a senior paper that was published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. And because it was published and her conclusions fit a media narrative that demagogues find attractive, it got a lot of press coverage. Here. And here. And here.

It’s official. Facebook users are narcissistic with low self-esteem. Men like to brag and women like to show off their best side. And this is news? When did Facebook change this basic human behavior?

Let’s ignore the fact that many college students today are not embracing Facebook as they once did, opting instead for the more private and exclusive circle of text messaging for their real friends. Or that the fastest growing segment of users of Facebook are over thirty-five. Or that she only looked at 100 college students at one college in Canada. Facebook statistics are readily available to any news media organization that wants to independently verify the legitimacy of a study.

I think a study like this says more about our thirst for entertainment at the cost of truth. I think a journal that publishes a study this flawed and subjective says more about the quality of the publication rather than the study. And I think it says a ton more about the quality of the school that allows a study like this to be published by a student who has supposed to have finished a course of study that has an obligation to teach her observational and deductive reasoning skills that qualifies her to practice medicine on living people in several years.

But the relative ease at which news organizations were duped into reporting this study as news without questioning the science behind it speaks more to the sloth of journalism and greed of for-profit news organizations than it does for answering the questions the study claims to have discovered. It is astounding that professional news media glom onto a headline masquerading as a study and propagate it out across the AP, UPI wire as if it were news fit to print.

But then, I am making all these assertions based on the paper abstract and first page alone. That was all that was displayed on the website without paying for it. I’m certain the media did not spring for access and judging from the depth of their stories, even if provided a free copy, they did not read past the first page.

Does Facebook connect or isolate people, was that the original question? Who the hell cares. What I do care about is that of the fifty-three friends I have in my Facebook collection, if Facebook were to go away tomorrow, I’d still know how to connect with them. And I think that most people would also know how to connect with the few dozen Facebook friends who really are their friends. So I think that Facebook perhaps makes it easier to remind me of their place in my life while simultaneously making it easy to feel I can always reach out, so I seldom do. But their photo in my friend box reminds me of them. And I hope mine does the same for them.

And I haven’t changed my profile picture in forever. A social media forever, anyway.

Editor’s afterthought:
After publishing my #letsblogoff, I clicked through my usual reading material and by way of Chris Brogan, I rediscovered Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal). What follows on his blog is a huge testament to how social media spaces are not only connecting people, but transforming lives and giving homeless people hope. I warn you, before you click off to his site, you may feel a bit humbled and dare I say, sheepish at your own observations of what social media can do. I know I did. Thank you, Mark, for reaffirming that we are all in this together. And now his site,

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about “Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people?” To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.

Facebook’s privacy mess just a way out of a larger mess that has everything to do with software management

facebook privacy

It seems that everyone has an opinion on Facebook’s privacy mess and I would be remiss if I didn’t just jump right on the bandwagon and try to grab some limelight (two clichés in one sentence!)

Here is what I think is going on.

I think Facebook’s privacy policy is more a reflection of a user culture that wants to be able to customize and individualize everything than it is a deliberate attempt at obfuscation. “Share this thing with these three people, but not that one but only on the third moon of every…” You get my point… As you throw in more stuff, you increase the settings combinations exponentially.

But Zuck’s stated views on privacy is not helping his case. It may just be his way of trying to manage the tangling mess of settings by stating “everything is not private” just to be able to get out from under the hell of customization expectations he created.

Or he really is a monster.. I dunno.