Momentarily Viral – Don’t read the Comments

I wrote yesterday about the recent Yahoo Parenting article about the community.  Turns out this piece had over 3 million hits in the first 24 hours.   This generated so much traffic to the Twinoaks.org website that our web host server crashed. Even my blog, which is not mentioned in the article at all, got over 1000 hits in two days.

Does this hype actually go anywhere?

Does this hype actually go anywhere?

And the media contacted us also.  We got three requests from conventional news sources (including my first ever request for an exclusive) and two excited reality show producers.  We have considered working with Reality TV as an income engine for new community start ups and i floated it by the Point A DC folks, who rejected it overwhelmingly. This did not stop there being animated discussion about the possibility at Acorn last night at dinner.  The chances we will be able to work with reality TV are vanishingly small.

There were over 500 comments to the Yahoo article.  There were quite a few positive ones, some from people who had lived in community which worked for them or they appreciated, some from folks who had visited us at some point and felt the need to dispel the false statements which were being made.  But perhaps half the comments on this Yahoo article were negative or critical.  They came in a few flavors:

Communism is Bad:  My favorite of this ilk was “Why hasn’t someone called the National Guard to rid us of these communists?”  Unlike past articles i have read, there were not any direct “Go back to Russia!” suggestions.  Many came from Libertarians who feel a need to attack anything which does not look like their version of free market capitalism. Libertarianism Cartoon There was our personal chapter of the endless Tea Party debates in which all ills are blamed on Obama and each of the two main political parties are attacked for the Democrats being Communists and the Republicans (in the long run) being anarchists.  News flash folks, there are two pro-business parties in the US.  Look at who funds their campaigns. There are also a whole slew of comments contenting that we 1) Don’t pay taxes.  In fact we are the second largest tax payer in the county. 2) Are on Food Stamps and Welfare. In fact none of the membership uses these government assistance programs.

Polyamory is wrong: There was the expected amount of slut shaming and name calling. I should not have been surprised at the frequently expressed concern that pedophiles would have easy access to our kids, when in fact the opposite is the case. polyamory_is_wrongThere were a refreshing number of people who felt like this was an acceptable choice, only not right for them personally.  For many critics this simply feed their notion of moral decay on the commune.  There was a prevalent opinion that this reflected an easy way to have lots of sex partners, when actually the form of polyamory most often practiced in the communities requires lots of discussion, negotiations and process.

Too often too true

Too often too true

This can never work:  Despite the article mentioning that we had been around for nearly 50 years, there were a surprising number of comments predicting our imminent demise or our failure in the long term.  I chalk this up to people not wanting the story to be true, so they lash out against it in ways that don’t make much sense.  Because the article was focused on parenting and not pension, there were many comments about what happens when people reach retirement age.  In fact our pension program is far more robust than the default one in the mainstream.

Applying for Pregnancy !?!?! It is true this is very odd and i totally get why this flips people out.  And when you read why we do it, it will make a whole lot more sense to you.  This linked article also has the bonus section that it includes the only (to my knowledge) exhaustive list of Twin Oaks prohibitions.

Eeww you have Lice!:  Apparently, only the community suffers from lice.  Every couple of years we have a lice outbreak.  We fight some, internally, about the use of chemicals to push it back.  We clean a ton of laundry, some people dramatically shave their heads to avoid having to treat or retreat.  Frankly, they are more psychologically problematic than actually physically problematic, but try telling that to someone who is freaking out.

One way to solve the problem

One way to solve the problem

While i had a good time going thru the comments and correcting people misconceptions and laughing about the haters, i counseled everyone who was actually in the article not to read the comments.    They don’t yet show the thoughtful dialog we would hope to find on the digital pages of the internet.

What the article did not mention is that:

1) Twin Oaks has had a waiting list for more than 7 years now.  So if you are in a rush to find a new place, we are a poor choice.

2) It is far harder for families to become members than individuals.  In the last 10 years there has only been three families accepted (and perhaps a dozen who have tried to come).  The visitor period is longer, the waiting list is tougher and every member of the family must be accepted or none of them can come.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

11 responses to “Momentarily Viral – Don’t read the Comments”

  1. Dondi says :

    I love the Libertarian cartoon! And I think some form of polyamory happens just as much on the outside – commonly called adultery for married folk or slutting for singles, with a lot more mess.

    I always said the best things about Twin Oaks and the worst things about Twin Oaks was the child program. We left (86) because it wasn’t conducive to families. And unfortunately pedophiles are a real and horrible fear everywhere.

  2. Catherine says :

    I thought Libertarians were just Republicans who want to smoke pot.

  3. nina says :

    Pax, I can think of three or four families accepted in the last 10 years, but perhaps you are not counting the families that moved here from other FEC communities.

  4. Sandy H. says :

    When you say Twin Oaks is the second highest taxpayer in the county, are you referring to local property taxes? Because the 501(d) structure of Twin Oaks is exempt from federal income tax.

    Also, while it may be that no Twin Oaks member is on “welfare” or food stamps, when I visited there were quite a few were on the Medicaid program for healthcare.

    • paxus says :

      We pay state taxes to the state for property and income and even tho we are below the Federal filing threshold the state threshold is lower (and the tax rates are lower). We are not the second largest federal tax payer, i should have said state wide. And i believe we are also responsible for property tax for our 450 acres and $10 million worth of physical plant.

      We absolutely are on Medicare and Medicaid, we use UVa indigent care (which is being phased out by our enrollment in ObamaCare) and Social Security (which of course we had to pay into).

      We also self insure with 20 other communities for catastrophic coverage with an internal $5K deductable.

      SO the question we should really be asking here is “Are these people productive members of the general society or are they wards of the state?” We pay several kinds of taxes, we die inexpensively (because we die at home and have our own hospice), we have a fairly low per person medical expense less than half our mainstream counter part on average.

      And there are people who think we should apply for food stamps in the community (which we would not qualify for because the state actually knows about our collective income and blacklists our address for these benefits) there are others who think we should shoulder all our own medical costs either thru full insurance on self insurance.

      We dont agree, this is only one aspect, dont get lost in the details, other communities do it different ways.

  5. comfortacres says :

    a lice tangent- when I was a foster parent, and pregnant, some of our new kids came with critters. After some research online, and tons of loads of hot laundry, I infused coconut oil with some tea tree and neem oil, lathered every head and stuck a shower cap on for the night, and the next day, we were lice free, after baths and showers. (nine kids, in a 3 bedroom house). It took 3-4 days and showers to get the hair so it was not greasy looking from the oils, but we had no more lice… hope this can help you!

    • paxus says :

      Local experts say that the problem with the oil treatments is that they do not deal with the nits. What the oil does is suffocate the live lice effectively. But the nits (lice in egg stages) dont require much oxygen and can survive the oil treatment.

      • Deb LeWinter says :

        Hey there, Paxus! Just went through the lice thing here. Using Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser and blow-drying it on, shower cap overnight does the trick. The important thing is to do it once a week for three weeks so no lice that hatch from the nits can live to reproduce or become strong enough to leave the host head for other heads.

      • Eileen says :

        We did three cycles of the poison shampoo with all the laundry, etc. for my 10 year old and still had them. We got rid of them with Lice MD Pesticide Free. It only contained Dimethicone (a product which can be purchased in bulk). The instructions said to wash it out after 10 minutes, but because my research showed it to be a very safe chemical, we left it in for over a week. Her hair looked a little oily, but not bad and the lice were gone for good.

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