Friday, January 25, 2019

Momo – a dangerous new form of cyberbullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My mom reads your column. I’m writing because I’m scared. My girlfriend and other junior high friends are playing a game, called Momo, on their phones.

She asked me to play this fun “truth or dare” type of game.

I asked what I had to do. They showed me the picture of a bug-eyed scary girl … Momo. Her eyes pop out of her face and she looks like a witch. I got upset. They called me a baby.

We’ve had speeches about not taking challenges, like eating laundry detergent pods or cinnamon, but she said this is different and not dumb like the other stuff.

They said people all over play it and no one has died or anything.

I don’t want to play this game and my mom will take my phone and call other moms.

Truth or Dare

Dear Ms. Truth,

You’re very mature and brave to write us about this dangerous game. Why is it dangerous?

Although the WhatsApp is used for wonderful reasons, like connecting friends and family at no charge, the WhatsApp is encrypted. Any user can be anonymous. It’s hard for police, parents, or anyone to identify the Momo person or group. Momo is still unidentified.

There has been direct confirmation of a girl who committed suicide after following the threatening risks and suicide instructions. Everyone should be warned about a game that promotes suicide.

The people behind this game are morally wrong to include curses or visits from Momo. Momo eventually tells the “gamers” to commit suicide, or murders will happen to their family, friends, and pets.

A purpose of Momo is to generate moral panic through the creation of evil fear. Many researchers will tell you this harms the well-being of societies.

A story on “Inside Edition” compared Momo to “Slenderman,” a fictitious demon on social media, who supposedly convinced two 12-year-old girls to kill their friend.

Momo is not just an innocent game. It’s a new form of cyberbullying. Momo can collect personal information about you, spread rumors (true or not), and send hate-speech as if it’s coming from you.

The more risks that the player takes, the more “bullets” Momo can launch, causing you to lose friends, family, or your life.

People who have been seduced by this game have actually experienced severe anxiety, anger, and depression.

Congratulations for not being gullible and giving into this peer-pressure induced viral “joke.”

Now, take your hard-earned courage and show this to your mom. She will understand the severity of this non-game and not take your phone.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Fear is Not a Managment Style

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have a senior manager who’s from a different country. She’s so tough. Everyone’s afraid of her.
I have seven people working for me. They’ve all come to me about her abuse and rage.

The CEO has been notified. He defended her and said she was very effective in her management style.

One of my team employees from the same country complained to me because she was berated in front of everyone.

When I defended my employee, I was called into Human Resources. My employee got mad that I defended her. The HR manager said nothing about her anger, but asked me if I’ve heard of the acronym F.E.A.R., meaning False Evidence Appearing Real. Is she saying that I’m crazy?

I was so stunned. Then she said to let the two people from the same culture work it out. She defended my boss’s management “style,” and asked if I wanted to keep working there. 
 I’m a single mom. I’m paid well. I don’t understand how my boss gets away with this.

Can’t Leave

Dear Valiant Worker,

Fear is not a management style.

You’re not wrong to speak up about the abuse. However, in the future, try to “save face” in privacy to avoid humiliation.

Knowledge is power. Now you know the parameters of your work expectations, and you have difficult decisions to make. As a single mother you need to observe, document, and look for other employment options, if it becomes intolerable.

Fear means anxiety, the unknown, reluctance, and losing courage. Fear can lead to procrastination, creativity blocks, and loss of confidence. Taking action steps, even if the steps fail, is important for you to find a way to change your situation.

Change is scary, and that’s what most people fear.

Cognitive psychological research helps us to realize that even though we know we can’t always control how we feel, we can control our action steps.

Physical and mental action steps:

1. Physical gestures lessons anxiety adrenaline. Push your fingers together hard (maybe under the table where no one can see) for a minute. It stops the paralyzing effects of fear, and helps you take a positive action. Scream or punch into a pillow.

2. Turn anxiety into excitement. While you still have your job, put feelers out to see if you can get a different job with a better environment, or a whole different career.

Anxiety is mostly about control. You’ve done everything you can to change your reality. Don’t worry about the acronym regarding F.E.A.R. You know what is true.  Remember, you can only change yourself.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, January 14, 2019

Dealing with Authority Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’ve had workplace problems throughout my career. I’m a social worker.

I’ve left several companies because I’ve been brutally smeared with gossip, berated, shunned, and ignored. This behavior has always been by my superior and their groups. I feel like I never left high school.

I’ve tried talking with my bosses or respectfully confronting them. My friends say nowadays, many bosses are power-hungry narcissists.

My new boss complained about my approaches with parents of the kids I work with. I’ve never heard this. 

I had to be “trained” to have more compassion. I’m not the one missing compassion. I’m a child advocate. Some parents have been arrested for child abuse, neglect, and drug

My boss kept looking at her watch and saying, “uh-huh” but she didn’t actually listen or care. She was insulting and heartless. I think she’s a narcissist.

Not a Narcissist 

Dear Lovely Lady,

We admire your desire to challenge bosses who may have authority figure problems. Usually they are the ones who are insecure.

Narcissism Personality Disorder is actually rare. However, recent psychological studies found that behavioral trends signal that narcissism is on the rise. Approximately 70 percent of students today scored higher on narcissistic scales than 30 years ago. Research shows lack of empathy as the main reason for this.

Before we label all bosses narcissists, let’s look at what defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD):
  • Lack of empathy
  • Exaggerated esteem
  • Entitlement
  • Selfishness 
  • Enviousness
  • A need for praise and attention
  • Arrogance and being judgmental
  • A need to feel superior
Many researchers say that excessive unwarranted praise and admiration by parents, who were, conversely, the recipients of hyper-criticism and abuse, plays a large factor in a child’s lack of empathy.

Perpetrators who are authority figures have been shown to abuse their power. They can be disconnected from people and their organizations because of their inability to have empathy.

Workplace bullies get away with their abuse because their superiors don’t take the bullying seriously and subordinates don’t continue to report it. 

You didn’t decide to be a victim, but you can continue to choose not to stay a victim, by standing strong (literally) and showing compassion anyway. 

You can’t change the bad character of anyone else, but you can help create virtues, values, and care for others by your goodness and humble, yet bold example.

It doesn’t matter if your bosses are narcissists, it matters that our society educates others on empathy and helps to stop children from becoming entitled. 

We need valiant people like you to change our current culture.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Monday, January 7, 2019

Marriage: Still Waiting

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I’m 25 and I’ve been living with my boyfriend for three years. 

I lived with another guy, but broke up because he wanted his “freedom.”

I feel my 30-year-old partner is never going to ask me to marry him. We’ve talked about marriage because I brought it up and said, “I love you, I’m happy with you, I want your babies, so let’s get married and plan our lives.” He said he loves me too, but that was the end of our discussion. 

We’re both getting our master’s degrees right now. I brought engagement up again almost a year later. 
He got angry and said he was focused on school and I should be also. Why can’t we be focused on school and be engaged? 

I went to my parents’ house. I’m really depressed. My boyfriend apologized. He wants me back.
Should I give him an ultimatum? 

Not Engaged

Dear Young Woman,

Ultimatums don’t work because they’re threats. 

There are many reasons why some people feel marriage isn’t for them. They’re worried it’ll restrict their freedom and career ambitions. They may want to “audition” sexual partners. Maybe they’ve had bad family experiences with marriage. Or they may not have specific moral, religious, or value-centered lives.

New studies show premarital sex and living together may lead to emotional damage:

  • Intimacy is more than sexual relations. The most important ingredient (besides love) in having a stable and long-lasting relationship is trust, which requires a real commitment like marriage.
  • By age 21, over 80 percent of men and women in the United States have engaged in sexual intercourse. Sex has become casual. Research has found marriage to be more value-centered than cohabitation.
  • Couples who prioritize sex often find their relationship nucleus is underdeveloped, according to Jeremy Uecker and Mark Regnerus, authors of  the book Premarital Sex in America, published by Oxford University Press.
  • Studies also show living together increases the risk of identity issues, depression, financial hardships, and emotional damage when the “audition” is over.
  • Hormones like oxytocin, vasopressin, and endomorphines are values-neutral. They help when things go wrong in a committed marriage and have the opposite effect on cohabitating couples, according to new research.
  • Statistically, those marrying between ages 28 and 32 stay married for more than 20 years.

Choose your religious and moral values before continuing your relationship. You may decide to abstain from sexual relations before marriage, even if you’re not a virgin.

Remember you can’t change anyone but yourself. Seek professional or clergy help for emotional support.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Work ethic – ‘It’s just a part-time job’

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter’s in college and works. But she gets fired or quits a lot. 

She was always a girl of high standards, until college. She got scholarships, awards, recognition, and honors. 

Her high school friends would be as shocked as I am with her new mentality; saying, “It’s just a part-time job, Mom.” or “It’s not like I’m putting this stuff on my resume.”

She even said I’m an example of having a good work ethic. I was a single mom working hard so she could go to college and have extras, like vacations, clothes, and attendance at a private school.  

We’ve always had values like integrity, honesty, and service. Suddenly, they’re out the window, along with her high school friends. 

Unhappy Mom

Dear Mom, 

We understand how disappointed you must feel. However, there are things to consider while helping your daughter evaluate her situation.

Questions you might ask her:

  • Are you burnt-out from all your high school activities?
  • How scared are you of keeping up with your high school friends, who also excelled?
  • When can we have a deep discussion about your options?
  • How about finding a good therapist and doctor for your well-being? Formal guidance is essential. 

Possible follow-through suggestions to consider:

  • Some highly engaged students, who are also high achievers, may need some downtime. Six months to a year might help your daughter unwind. Maybe she can work part-time while living at home. It’s still necessary for her to have a daily schedule including exercise, restful activities (like reading), and walking in a park. More than a year’s downtime may turn into a lifestyle choice. It’s imperative to be productive for her self-worth and prosperity. We all need to have successful, financially-sustaining lives.
  • Fear of maintaining excellence is valid. There are ways for her to manage her life by doing fewer activities and focusing on significant ones – talents, career choices and her mental and physical health. Help her take a serious look at FOMO (Fear of missing out). Maybe one social activity is enough each week.
  • Discussions may help with scheduling and making choices. Possibilities might include timed vacations, part-time schooling, weekend trips home, or an intriguing job.
  • Professional guidance can facilitate lifestyle and value choices. Having a good work ethic is required, no matter what you do, in order to help build a civil society. Our definition of civility is to be caring, considerate, and have courtesy.

She’ll learn to honor herself, others, and God, if that’s what she believes, while making critical life choices.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri