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The "In" Crowd

By paf0 in Culture
Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 09:44:45 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Some of you may have seen The "In" Crowd and Social Cruelty on ABC last night. It had a lot of discussion with psychologist Michael Thompson on what makes someone popular. As children "For middle school girls, Thompson said, the top three criteria are looks, clothes and charisma. For boys, he said it's athletic ability, stature and humor."

As adults, the experience one had as a child plays a part in one's social skills. Some still remember what it was like to be picked on and this creates an "I'll show them, they were wrong about me attitude". Many successful people were not popular and this has been a driving factor to succeed.

I'm interested in what you experienced in school and what effect this had on your life.

Were you one of the popular kids?
What do you think makes someone popular?
Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?
What can we do you help our children succeed socially?


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The "In" Crowd | 86 comments (83 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Answers (3.53 / 13) (#2)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 02:58:54 PM EST

I was one of the popular kids.

I think it's a combination of personality, looks, athletic prowess, and intelligence.

I was driven. Far beyond driven to a new level of power and determination. I didn't listen to bands called "Pantera," for instance.

The last question is the only meaningful one. The answer has to do with what is known as "commodity fetishism." Under our economic system, all relationships are commodity-relationships. Under a socialist system, our relationship to objects will be humanized, rather than the perversions we now see.

I'd recommend the classic The Soul of Man Under Socialism for more.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Shoot for the stars, land on your peers... (3.80 / 5) (#4)
by miah on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:01:33 PM EST

I myself have had a hard time justifying my motives to myself as to why I want to have a certain job title or make a certain amount of money. I forced myself to graduate high school early and then proceeded to get jobs that for my age were really impressive (Network Admin Age 19, etc.).

This is a product of my peers telling me that dropping out of high school was the stupidest thing that they had ever heard of. I think it was worth it as I have had the jobs (not anymore, laid off) that the same people that were naysayers for me are trying to get right now. I got a diploma, but I skipped college (which I kick myself for now as I would have been done with it by the time I was 20).

I totally agree with the view that not being popular as a child pushes you to do bigger things as an adult.

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
Not wanting to blow thine own trumpet... (3.12 / 8) (#5)
by m0rzo on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:11:34 PM EST

I was always popular in school. Maybe this was because I enjoyed getting involved; I wasn't afraid to be vocal, and I adjust quite well to varied company. I am easy to get a long with. I think this may have something to do with me not having spent my formulative years hunched in front of a computer, neglecting social interaction for c++ or Quake.

I think bullying results from people being too afraid to defend themselves. It's all very well being able to mock and ridicule someone online through a computer but if kids intelligently mocked their agitator in the playground he'd leave through fear of being embarrassed in front of his peers.

Success can be determined early on, it's the illimitible desire to be "someone". Some people want to be someone, others would rather blend into a sea of fa(e)ces...

My last sig was just plain offensive.

Uh huh... (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by Rk on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:57:57 PM EST

It's all very well being able to mock and ridicule someone online through a computer but if kids intelligently mocked their agitator in the playground he'd leave through fear of being embarrassed in front of his peers.

You don't really believe that, do you?

[ Parent ]

It's true (4.25 / 4) (#21)
by foofish on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:12:47 PM EST

I know when I was in jr. high, there were a few kids who got beat up a lot until they developed a scathing wit. Many people, especially in junior high, would much rather suffer physical harm than be embarassed in front of their peers.

[ Parent ]
Of course it's true... (3.28 / 7) (#24)
by m0rzo on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:38:25 PM EST

If you don't think it's true, then you never tried it. You were one of the children beaten to a pulp and called a 'faggot' and you could have made it so much easier for yourself.

A caustic, condescending, conceited wit evokes the admiration of one's class mates. They see something in you that they can't even dream of eminating.

Take this fictionalised situation for example.

Big, tough bully approaches

Bully:You are a fag man, oh man why do you wear that coat it's sooo gay. oh my god you're so gay. you're a moron. urggh you suck man, you're so gay. you fag. oh god you are a fag. man, you eat like a fag. man your football boots are so cheap.

Quick-witted NON-Victim:: Ugh, sorry? Did those feckless, lips emit something? Or did that squeek come from your rotten, whimpering butt hole? Thou art a pipe for Fortune's finger to sound what stop she please. id est, you are a cretin. You are a stupid, uneducated, idiot. You are a worthless little bitch. Thou art a merry andrews. Do me a favour, stick a long screwdriver in your ear until it hits what is left of your brain.

Bully leaves...

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

You're kidding, right? (4.00 / 6) (#25)
by mikael_j on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:45:05 PM EST

Trying to outsmart the bullies tends to be a good way to get beaten a bit extra (I speak from experience)

We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Clearly.... (2.44 / 9) (#27)
by m0rzo on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:52:09 PM EST

Clearly then you are not a show man. You didn't know how to whip others around you into a passionate fervour. Evidently you didn't have it in you to stand on your desk and point at said bully. Obviously, you weren't able to step into the mind of the bully and find his weakness. You didn't turn the table. You didn't laugh in his face. You painted yourself as the weak, defenceless victim thus making yourself a target for endless mockery and beatings.

I was never bullied, and I never had to resort to violence. I mean, some kids amaze me... They wonder why they get bullied when they're so fucking anti-social. There were kids like this in my school - they just sat there in the corner, anti-social, pathetic and stoic. I can understand why it pisses some people off.

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

Il Duchino (3.50 / 4) (#33)
by marx on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:40:08 PM EST

There were kids like this in my school - they just sat there in the corner, anti-social, pathetic and stoic. I can understand why it pisses some people off.
I think we have a little fascist among us.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

dfsdfa (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by Stick on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:07:36 PM EST

"There were kids like this in my school - they just sat there in the corner, anti-social, pathetic and stoic. I can understand why it pisses some people off. "

Did you ever stop to think that those kids might have problems that need attention. I knew one guy who would stand in a corner, and barely speak to anyone. A year later the guy had to go into a mental clinic to deal with depression. Also, can I ask what age you are?

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]

He is m0rzo (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by scanman on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 11:31:20 PM EST

He is m0rzo, the most infamous troll on k5. That alone speaks volumes about his social abilities.

"[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
"scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
"I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

[ Parent ]

ahh (3.50 / 2) (#57)
by Stick on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 12:47:05 AM EST

That would explain why Mr Popular spends so much time on K5 instead of with his friends ;P

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
Bullying (4.75 / 12) (#28)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:53:00 PM EST

I disagree with you about the causes of bullying. Whether or not you can defend yourself, verbally or physically, has very little to do with it. If you're in an environment where bullying happens, and you're at the bottom of the social dominance hierarchy, you're going to be bullied. It doesn't matter if you're as strong as an ox: you'll be bullied for that. It doesn't matter if you have a silver tongue: you'll be bullied for that.

The question is, how do those hierarchies get formed. I think that depends a lot on the particular environment, but its definitely true that some people are better at rising to the top than others. Basically, people with obviously good self-esteem don't get bullied. People who are self-conscious, worried, or just inept, do.

The relationship between bullied and having "geeky" interests is a lot more complex than you make out. I had to go for a walk to calm down after reading what you wrote. If some kid out there who is being bullied at school right now read that its because he's "neglecting social interaction for C++ and quake", that is just going to damage his self-esteem further and make his life worse. The "just pull yourself together" school of counselling claims another victim. People with problems generally have underlying reasons for having those problems. Telling them the symptoms are their fault because their interests, or habits, or very perceptions are wrong is just cruel.

Quite what the relationship between being clever and having geeky interests, and being social awkward and therefore (probably) bullied, is not clear. There's certainly a striking similarity to the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD and other related conditions. Academic persuits probably also offer a refuge for people who can't, for whatever reason, do more "social" things. Of course, spending all your time alone playing quake ain't going to help your ability to interact, but I think if you went and asked some kid who gets bullied, you'd find most of the desparately *want* to be sociable, and to succeed, but that (for whatever reason) their efforts get rebuffed so much they have trouble "pulling themselves together".

It is also worth pointing out that there's no inherent virtue in being "social". Sure, we're social animals. We're all healthier and happer if we spend time with other people, but an ability to "get on with" anyone is not necessarily good, and might indicate shallowness, or a tendency towards unhealthy moral compromises.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Excellent Post (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by Acous on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 03:52:51 AM EST

I just had to reply, thanks :)

[ Parent ]
On fighting back (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by pietra on Mon Feb 18, 2002 at 02:40:16 AM EST

I tried this technique exactly once, and while it worked very well, it wasn't exactly replicable. The center on my high school varsity basketball team, one fine day, decided he needed someone small and pathetic to torment. Looking around our Algebra II class, he found me, and proceeded to make two major mistakes:

1) Pick on a girl, even a thoroughly disdained one. Chivalry, though mostly dead, is still barely breathing. That is, your male friends won't jump in to save your ass when

2) the girl unexpectedly decks you in front of the entire basketball team. He was a foot taller and at least 75 pounds heavier, but I just plain snapped. He left me alone after that. I'm pretty sure that if I'd been a guy, I would have gotten the unholy shit kicked out of me. I saw a number of people try the smartass route, and it very rarely ever worked. Even my success was limited. I was still way too weird (and now rumored to be utterly psychotic and vicious) for various other pricks to avoid, so they simply kept out of arm's reach at that point. I still have nightmares about going back to high school.

[ Parent ]

What, me worry? (3.50 / 4) (#6)
by xriso on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:17:16 PM EST

I don't think I was popular. I think I also didn't care/strive to become popular. In retrospect, this appears to be a rational behaviour, as I had no interests that required me to be "In".
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
Look (3.50 / 4) (#9)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:35:42 PM EST

If you didn't think you were, you weren't.

In our Imperium, only the most popular of the popular make it into elite fraternities at the best colleges. From there, they move into positions of power in government and industry. It's no accident they are called "Greek" societies.

And don't even get me started about the sybaritic initiation rituals.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

"Potential" (4.45 / 20) (#7)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:22:49 PM EST

The word that was tossed around throughout my youth was the word potential. I had lots of potential, blah blah. Only one problem... I never had a chance to realize it because pickup trucks filled with testosterone-filled youth chased school buses because me and my brother was on it, hellbent on doing severe bodily harm. Or attacking us in the hallways or bathrooms where there were no teachers. I had two parents who gave me not a whole lot of support as a kid - my mom lived 40 miles away and I saw her on most of my weekends. My dad had significant "issues", and wound up going to jail several times over things best left unsaid in this forum. In short, my life was pretty fucked up.

Yes, I was an "out crowder". Geek. Whatever. I don't care... I was asked to prom once by a fellow out crowder - which sparked the most rumor-filled day of my existance. I finally backed out because I couldn't stand being in the spotlight. I didn't even bother going to the lunchroom except maybe once a week... the rest of the time I hid away in the auditorium using a backdoor entrance that was supposed to be locked all the time but never was and read my books and ate in silence. Oh yeah, and I messed with the stage lighting while nobody was around by picking the lock on the lighting booth, or whatever the drama-geeks called it.

I can tell you two things about the experience: It placed a deep, hard, conviction that authority is total bullshit. I am anti-authoritarian with a vengence. Authority seemed intent on only three objectives: Keeping me quiet and not speaking out about the problems I was seeing, punishing me when I did (severely), and not protecting me. I thought, hell, I was taught that authority is to be respected because 1) it protects you and 2) it is impartial and just. It failed me on both counts, miserably.

I could not defend myself, and my teachers didn't seem to want to help, save perhaps two my entire academic life. The "option of last resort": Emotionally/Behaviorally Disturbed classes (EBD, ED, gifted programs, alternative education, it goes by many names) pulled me out of the mainstream and put me in with the other rejects. Rejects that were the most dynamic, interesting, and wise individuals I had ever seen. They were just kids, and already world-weary and jaded.

I know that quite a few of them made out just fine - my brother and I both managed to get jobs that paid well above the national average within just a few years after levaing school. Another person, Christina, diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities I heard transferred to another school and performed marvelously. Such is the case... adversity breeds strength, it's true. But it's a terrible price to pay - trust me when I say I do not want to be strong. It's not what I want to do, and I don't care what anybody says about "be a man" or any of that bullshit. It's hard. And it's harder because you almost always do it alone.

Being an outcrowder means a lot of things. It means knowing the real value of friendship. It means knowing exactly where you stand, and exactly what you believe in and what you're willing to fight for. It's about drawing lines, and then being willing to cross them. It's about taking all that shit that they've tried to cram into you and take away from you, all the anger, resentment, self-pity, frustration, to dig down beneath all of that and turn it all around... to make the best of what the worst has to offer. People are mean sons-a-bitches, but you're better and more powerful than that, and you won't let them win.

But more than anything else... it means to be yourself. To be real and authentic in a world filled with a lot of pain and agony. It's about your attitude: That no matter what, it is always your choice to be happy. To empower yourself to take control of a situation that is out of control, and to wrestle with unseen demons. And to finally say, when you come to rest, when you lay down at the end of the day that you did your absolute and very best... Because you can feel in your bones you have nothing left inside you.

That, is what it means to me.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Amen, brother (4.40 / 5) (#23)
by localroger on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:30:55 PM EST

If you had posted this as a story, I'd have given it +1FP before bothering to reply.

It placed a deep, hard, conviction that authority is total bullshit.

People frequently tell me "I wish I was as smart as you are," or some variant, and I inevitably reply No you don't.

I drove myself to exceed academically when I was young because I was taught that "knowledge is power." As an adult I learned that that was about on a par with your lesson vis-a-vis authority; power is power, and knowledge is one of many tools you need to acquire it. Fortunately, I was better able to feign normality in the real world than in the bullshit-soaked halls of academia.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

RE: Amen, brother (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:56:05 PM EST

First, thanks. Second... I respond a little differently to that "I wish I was as smart as you are" comment... I usually remind them that they are just as smart as I am. Maybe not in some areas, but in others. I've never yet met someone who wasn't my better in some way. I value happiness and authenticity over some kind of badly defined attribute we call "intelligence". Smart people, if you want to call them that, recognize that: We're all gifted and all different in some way, and similar in other ways. It's how we interact that defines what happens. It's more about attitude than skill. And I just wish I could explain that to the world.

Life is a series of obstacles... but don't take it so seriously, it's only training for what you're going to be doing in the hereafter. You're expected to make mistakes, to fail... and it's okay, it's part of being human. And even if there isn't an afterlife, even if this is "it", make the best of your time here and try not to worry about what you do and don't have. It's immaterial to what you have got to do in life. Which is, simply put... to live and learn. That is all there is in living.


~ Siggy

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

"Smarter than me..." (4.00 / 4) (#44)
by localroger on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:09:17 PM EST

I usually remind them that they are just as smart as I am. Maybe not in some areas, but in others.

A noble sentiment, which I also followed in my teens and early 20's. But I learned an awful thing during years of field service work, on devices used by minimum-wage expendable type employees.

There are a lot of stupid people out there. Not just people that don't care; people who are absofuckinglutely STUPID.


Refrain: You got an instrument that says LOC-UP when its inputs go outta whack. We get a call one day, to wit: "It say look up an I looked up but I dint see nuthin."

I retain to this day my belief that we are all born with the same potential, but I think a lot of us have that potential burned out of us very early in life in such a way that we can never recover it. I'm not saying that everyone would be a towering genius like, well, some people I can think of :-) but that a healthy world would produce a lot more competent people and depend a lot less on weirdos like me for technical expertise.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I dispute (3.50 / 4) (#48)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:33:55 PM EST

Your anecdote demonstrates remarkable stupidity. It shows a lack of knowledge about how mechanical/electrical devices operate, certainly, but the employee in question likely received little in the way of education--education without which you might have been the up-looker.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Raise your dispute, 20 years of observation (3.75 / 4) (#52)
by localroger on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 09:03:18 PM EST

Hey, it was one anecdote. I could do a four-part series of others -- wait, I already said no more four-part series. Really, it's a thing that wore me down.

It's especially noticeable if you happen to come from an academic background and go through the honors courses in school. You spend years and years hanging around people who, you do not realize, have been selected as being your "peer." You have no idea what else is out there.

Yes, me without my education and had he had mine, the guy on the forklift might have posted the same thing about me. Of course he'd have to overcome his ideas about everyone being "just as smart" as him to realize I was a loser with no place to go in life. He'd probably get there somewhere in his 30's.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Not everyone can be an alpha ... (4.33 / 3) (#58)
by Kalani on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 12:48:13 AM EST

... and that shouldn't be a goal. I'm not exactly sure how you (and several other people in this discussion) mean to use the term "loser" but in my estimation the forklift operator is not a loser.

It may be true that natural intelligence is not equally distributed across the general population but neither is unthinking loyalty to an abstract social order. There are many here on K5 who would look down on those people as barbarians or thugs (or some other choice monikers), but it is necessary to have such people on your side. They strike a (I believe) necessary balance in the world. There are few mathematicians who would find any joy in collecting garbage, but garbage needs to be collected. There are even fewer in the "upper crust" who would willingly go to war (and effectively none who would go into the military as a private on the front lines).

I could go on really, but many authors have already said what I'm saying in ways more colorful and profound than I am capable of relaying.

You've said that, as you have grown older, your experience has forced you to conclude that not all people have the same capacity for intellectual pursuits as you. I'm still pretty young (possibly naive as well), but I think that the practice of measuring people according to intelligence in order to determine the worth of those people (which is what I think some people are doing when they call low-scorers "losers") is short-sighted and ego-centric. I admire the people who live up to their capacities, contribute to society in positive ways, and who treat all others with basic respect. Such people have greater worth, according to my own standard of measure, than any clever man stomping on the faces of "lesser" men on his path to power (of course these aren't the only options but they serve to illustrate my point that intelligence alone cannot be used to determine the worth of a person's life).

If you didn't mean your "loser" comment in the way that I interpreted, I withdraw my rambling post from your direction but I keep it fixed on those who sneer at gas station attendants, janitors, etc.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
A short explanation (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by localroger on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 08:42:25 AM EST

There are actually two components to what I was trying to say, neither of which came across very well.
  • Everyone is born with the same potential. A lot of us have it beaten out of us, never to recover it. This is tragic.
  • Abnormally high levels of achievement are abnormal for a reason. Scratch a genius and you will find a miserable, fucked-up person who was driven to excel in one narrow field, at the expense of others because something is terribly wrong.
Both of these avoidable conditions usually result in someone who is "useful" somehow to society, so we don't worry about it too much. We even consider these painful formative experiences "cute." From the outside, of course. After we're through living through our own.

The top story is about one of those experiences that shows you the roundness of the world's holes no matter what shape you happen to be born. There are many others, and few of us escape getting shaved by them.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I don't agree, for different reasons this time ... (none / 0) (#76)
by Kalani on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 11:42:42 PM EST

I thought that you were saying that people are not all born with the same potential. I see that I've misinterpreted that particular part of your post.

For my part, I'm not sure if people are all born with the same potential (the obvious cases of Down Syndrome and various other brain defects aside). I also think that the tortured genius picture is incorrect (except in a few cases). Most of the academic heroes of "Western Civilization" were reputed to be fairly normal people in most respects. They didn't usually confine themselves to one very narrow field either. In fact, I remember reading a collection of letters sent to Gauss by other mathematicians chiding him for his interest in astronomy. Even John Nash, the brilliant mathematician who's been receiving so much attention lately, fell into mathematics through his youthful interest in electricity (of course, he did wind up being schizophrenic but his childhood was, by the account of his biographer, ideal).

Anyway, I'm mostly interested in how you meant to use the word "loser." In this last post of yours, do you mean for the "useful" (your quotes) people to be in this group? I don't mean for this to be an attack on you, I'm only interested in what sort of people you consider to be failures at life.

Thanks for your time.

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
whiner (2.25 / 12) (#31)
by tarsand on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:06:55 PM EST

You, Signal 11, are the biggest whiner on K5. Your adolescent life was one hell of a lot better than most of the people on this earth, yet you seem to think that anyone wants to read a windy story about how you procured your twisted views on the world? Sorry, you're just not that special. Whiners never achieve anything. You're a loser, not the superficial kind based on popularity -- you are a true loser. If I could I'd give you a smack just on principle. Bugger off.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
I Love You Too! (3.50 / 4) (#37)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:48:37 PM EST

You know what, I don't care. And think about this - who's the bigger whiner - someone who relays their true life story, as it is, with no pretenses about how great he is, or someone who attacks that person because they're too insecure to develop their own identity and are jealous of the fact that the aforementioned has one?

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

And who peed in your Wheaties? (4.42 / 7) (#41)
by localroger on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:57:29 PM EST

Signal11 is obviously still pretty young. It probably hasn't been that long since he ripped up the box he had been living in since he was born.

I know how it goes. I ripped up my box when I was 15. That was a long time ago; yesterday was my 38th birthday. I've ripped up a few more boxes since then. It gets easier with experience, but still hurts.

Signal11 has his over-the-top moments but he's literate and introspective and I enjoy reading his work. Of course that's probably because I empathize; if you've ever ripped up your world-view and gone through all the bullshit that entails then you'd understand, and if you never have you never will.

Signal11 may or may not become a world-class physicist or chess master or violinist or whatever. But I have a feeling he will be extraordinarily competent at whatever he tries to do. In some fields that won't be enough, and he would fail. If he is lucky he will eschew the drive to see his picture on the cover of Time, and find a niche in a trade where he will never win the Nobel Prize but where he may find a living and a fulfilling sense of accomplishment as he sees his works put to use.

If he seems whiny now it's probably because he cannot see that outcome. It's a difficult thing to see, from that vantage point. But I can attest that it is possible and attainable. I agree with everything Signal11 wrote here, and while I'm an iconoclast I think you will find few people who would call me a whiner.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

good points (4.00 / 5) (#47)
by tarsand on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:21:09 PM EST

I agree, he is definately literate, but far too introspective -- or at least in the wrong way. To me it comes across as "poor me" and usually seems to imply the world owes him something. My reaction to this is pure unadulterated disgust. I find that people like this tend to fall into the catagory of loser.

I can empathise with what he's said, that's not my problem, it's the presentation that I have a problem with. His tale looks like paddy-cakes compared to what I've been through, if we must attach magnitudes to things, and I'd rather not as a general rule, but I'm not wallowing in pages of pity around here.

That's it, really, it's not what specifically, it's how. I suppose still being young might have something to do with it -- you make a good point.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Hmmm... (3.50 / 2) (#61)
by Signal 11 on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 01:45:19 AM EST

I have only one question... a man goes to college, gets his degree, and goes out into the world with honors and becomes, say, a computer programmer. Another man graduates from high school, spends all his free time tinkering with computers, and eventually finds an employer who will test his skills and discovers he's a great computer programmer. Ten years later, they make the same amount of money, and are working on the same project.

Is the experiences of one worth more than the other? Is one of them "more qualified" or "more deserving" than the other? In fact, would the man who spent thousands on his education via college be morally justified in looking down on the man who has thousands of dollars in broken and damaged equipment and tons of manuals, but learned the same things he knows?

You see... it doesn't matter how I present it. It doesn't matter what my background is. It's about my attitude, and what I've learned. The world doesn't "owe" me anything... and I don't know where on god's green earth you people get the impression that I think it does. But if nothing else can get through the barriers you've thrown up to keep you from seeing me as just another human being, then realize this: I'm 22 years old, and I know jack shit about how the world works.

But I'm learning more every day, and I'm thankful I have that opportunity. And I'm sorry if I have somehow managed to give you the impression that I am anything else... but in the final equation... you really aren't that important - to me. So don't waste your breath talking about my whining or my failings, unless you think it's going to benefit us both, okay? All you're doing is wasting your time... time that could be better spent learning some of the lessons this ignorant 22 year old whelp has learned. Like making the attempt anyway, and dealing with older know-it-alls, and even failing miserably from time to time. Or a lot. Yeah.. like me... a hell of a lot. :)


~ Siggy

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Recipes for success (3.71 / 14) (#8)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:33:39 PM EST

I'm reprinting without permission what is actually the very first story in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I think it has bearing on the conversation here... because you asked the question "What can we do to[sic] help our children succeed socially?"

Love: The One Creative Force

A college professor had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boy's future. In every case the students wrote, "He hasn't got a chance." Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.

The professor was astounded and decided to persue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, "How do you account for your success?" In each case the reply came with feeling, "There was a teacher."

The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement.

The teacher's eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. "It's really very simple," she said. "I loved those boys."

Eric Butterworth

I happen to agree with the sentiments of the author of that story, and I believe it speaks for itself. Cheers,

~ Siggy

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Geez, great story. (3.25 / 4) (#10)
by Ken Pompadour on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:38:02 PM EST

Now I suppose that 'Chick Soup for the lobotomized' gives a citation for this story? Shoor.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
:) so what? (4.00 / 5) (#12)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:49:20 PM EST

You'll have to ask them that. Even if it's made up, the message is still true. Perhaps though, if you doubt it... you might conduct your own experiment? People are always willing to talk to you about themselves. I guarantee you right now you'll learn more by doing that than you ever did in high school.

Besides, you might surprise yourself with how much such a little act can do. A very close friend of mine is alive today because someone phoned her just to say "hello". Right as she was about to walk out the door, drive away and get into a fatal car accident. I know more than one person with that story. I have a story like that to tell. I'm telling you, it doesn't take a lot... just a hug, just a phone call, just being there for someone. You don't even have to say anything.

And if such simple little acts can turn people's lives around, why can't we believe in the power of love?

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Do you think (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:39:37 PM EST

That it's a coincidence that the Huey Lewis and the News classic "The Power of Love" was featured on the soundtrack of a movie putatively about time-travel but more transparently about a reactionary 50s nostalgia?

The only readable part of American Psycho is of course the Huey Lewis, Phil Collins, and Whitney Houston disquisitions.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Yeah.. (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:00:55 PM EST

That it's a coincidence that the Huey Lewis and the News classic "The Power of Love" was featured on the soundtrack of a movie putatively about time-travel but more transparently about a reactionary 50s nostalgia?

Yeah, but not for the reasons you think. Personally, I'm thinking "acid trip." :P

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

I'd suggest (2.00 / 3) (#19)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:06:43 PM EST

That you both read Time out of Joint and be able to recognize the titular allusion before posting any further comments, Signal 11.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

I'll post as many as I want! (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:44:09 PM EST

That's intellectual snobbery at it's finest. Why do I have to spent hours and hours of my time reading a book just to reply to your one-liner comment? I don't, and I won't. But I did read the reviews on the book and have a good idea where you're going with that comment...
    Think of someone you know that seems pretty happy about life. How would you describe their attitude? Are they kidding themselves? Are they ignoring the ugly truth about life that's right in front of their eyes and pretending that some happy fantasy world that exists only in their heads is real? Well, guess what. That is exactly how every happy person in the world acts. And the really strange thing is that it's OK. Because the reason that you are unhappy is that you have constructed a fantasy world just as complete and just as removed from the "facts" as the Pollyanna imaginings that you so despise in those happy people.

    Reality is in fact neither good nor bad, it is a very plastic inkblot sort of thing that can be bent and twisted in many directions depending on your beliefs. WHAT! you say? What about THE TRUTH? Well, that's a complicated question and it gets into the meaning of life bit that we haven't gotten to yet, but suffice it to say that what is REALLY going on is so strange, so complex, and so far beyond our everyday understanding, that it bears no relationship to what you think of as "reality", "truth", or "reason". Good and bad, happy and sad, these are notions that you are imposing on the world around you.


In short, don't tell me what I can and cannot see or say about the world... because you're just as "wrong" as I am. It's like Einstein when he was describing the theory of relativity... a man on a train sees another man standing off in a field... to one, the train appears to be moving left to right, and to the other, right to left. Who's right? Well, it depends on your point of view, doesn't it?

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Perspectivalism (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by medham on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:36:50 PM EST

Is the theme of that book, and, in a way, the very famous one that the title references. It's a good book, and you'll probably enjoy it.

One thing I can say with certainty is that it will profit you more than the time you spend posting here.

And I myself, to be fair, have posted many comments here the last few days; but that's been caused by being chained to a terminal.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

terminal illness? :) (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by Signal 11 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 09:51:04 PM EST

And I myself, to be fair, have posted many comments here the last few days; but that's been caused by being chained to a terminal.

Yeah. I *grunt* *clunk* know the feeling *grunt*... just a few more feet until I can get to the fridge and get my mountain dew...

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Oh... (4.33 / 3) (#53)
by Stick on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 09:44:37 PM EST

Just like this teacher did ?

Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
[ Parent ]
With the lights out/It's less dangerous... (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by axxeman on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 04:49:13 AM EST

If you teach biology, you might as well teach biology.

Desperately need Egyptologist. Can you help?
[ Parent ]

Susan Ward (1.50 / 6) (#11)
by suick on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 03:48:45 PM EST

That dark haired chick was hot.

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
What? (none / 0) (#71)
by suick on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 01:57:46 PM EST

She wasn't hot? Why the hell am I being rated down here?

order in to with the will I around my effort sentences an i of more be fuck annoying.
[ Parent ]
simple (none / 0) (#73)
by Arkady on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 04:53:14 PM EST


1) you're off-topic - the article is _not_ about how hot anyone is

2) you're not contributing - a one-sentence, off-topic, comment isn't discussion material

It should be pretty obvious, from this, that I didn't think your comment was particularly worthy, and therefore 1 strikes me as an appropriate rating. If it had at least been on-topic it could have hoped for a 2, and if it had been more obnoxious it would have gotten a 0.

(This is not, I should stress, any statement of what I think of you or your comments in general. I just think that particular one wasn't very good.)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.33 / 3) (#13)
by mikael_j on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:27:56 PM EST

I hung out with all the other rejects and was considered to be a "clever idiot" (I always did good on tests and such but never cared too much about it, thus I didn't qualify to be a "real" geek but I wasn't a "real" idiot since I didn't sniff glue or get arrested every other weekend (I had enough common sense to know that when people start breaking stuff it's best to go somewhere else and make sure others notice that you are where ever "somewhere else" is))

We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
BTW (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by mikael_j on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:30:47 PM EST

I can hardly say that I was "driven to be succesful" because of being an outsider, it just made me not care about what others think of my choices in life.

We give a bad name to the internet in general. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Answers (4.20 / 5) (#16)
by DesiredUsername on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 04:50:31 PM EST

"Were you one of the popular kids?"

I moved around a few times. At some schools I was well-liked by some, at some I was at the bottom of the ladder. I was never at the top.

"What do you think makes someone popular?"

There are many things. But one thing that is almost certainly required is caring about being popular. It takes some work to maintain all those friends (and "friends") and to gain new ones. There are a very very few people that are just "like that" but everyone else expends effort on it. As it happens, I'm charismatic and likable in person, but feel no urge to be around other people. So I can be (and have been, especially in college) "popular" when I try but mostly just stick to myself.

"Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?"

Who says I'm driven to succeed?

"What can we do you help our children succeed socially?"

This presupposes that we care about social success. It also presupposes that we CAN help. It also requires (or implies such) that we install a social neediness into our children that they then must "succeed at".

Except for family (my wife, my children and my around-the-corner-inlaws) I have no friends. Zero. I barely even talk to my coworkers since I started telecommuting. I'm perfectly happy. Not "contented", not "satisfied". Happy.

Play 囲碁

Hmm. Let me think about this. (3.66 / 12) (#20)
by Anonymous 242 on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:12:43 PM EST

elementary school. 8 years.

high school. 4 years.

marriage. 10 years and still going.

work force. 12 years.

current job. going on five years.

church. new to the Orthodox faith. but that'll be for the rest of my life and then some.

And I should be thinking back to grade school and high school why?

High school is temporary, folks.


Lee Irenæus Malatesta

Fascinating topic (4.50 / 6) (#22)
by Hopfrog on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:24:09 PM EST

Thompson said, the top three criteria are looks, clothes and charisma. For boys, he said it's athletic ability, stature and humor."

For girls, it definately is those three. For boys however, athletic ability is probably a very american thing. In europe and africa - the 2 continents I have spent my life in - athletic ability didn't play much a role. Humour seems to be less important to me than being interesting. There are people who aren't funny, but can spin a good tale. These people, in my experience, are usually popular. Stature is important. For some reasons, short guys just don't get much respect.


Thinking back (4.00 / 5) (#26)
by Tatarigami on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 05:51:22 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

I don't remember a social division like this existing in my highschool... perhaps it's because numbers in the last two years were fairly small. There were a lot of kids whose company didn't interest me and vice versa, but I don't recall there being 'right' and 'wrong' groups of friends to be in.

What do you think makes someone popular?

I still haven't figured that out. Social calculus has never been my forte.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

Nope. The only opinion that matters is mine.

What can we do to help our children succeed socially?

Buy 'em booze.


I never got bullied significantly, which is surprising, because if ever there was anyone who deserved it, it was me. Hell, I wish I could travel back in time and slap some sense into me. I'd thank me for it someday.

Unsocialized social dynamics (4.66 / 12) (#29)
by webwench on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 06:02:52 PM EST

I never understood what made some people popular and some people unpopular. I can't chalk it up to 'social skills' because I've seen some very cruel, pessimistic, nasty, popular people in my time. I would almost chalk it up to the knowledge of how to gain and retain power, but it seems hard to apply that to grade-school-level social dynamics (outside the realm of straight bullying).

You can probably guess I was not popular as a kid. I had zero friends in elementary school and was mercilessly tormented, daily, uniformly. I wore bifocals (which did not help matters) and always walked with my head down, watching where my feet went. Somewhere in middle school, I decided quite consciously that would not be ashamed any longer -- so I consciously stopped looking down, consciously started asserting myself, consciously made myself visible. I remember the first weeks of that -- it was shocking, liberating, wonderful, and scary all at the same time. Depending on the tack I used to assert myself, my mileage varied, but in general I improved and was able to find a circle of school friends each year. I adopted the smart-rebel archetype, and it served me well in high school and college, although not always so well, politically speaking, in the working world. I'm still trying to find the next archetype to adopt to maximize my work success.

To this day, though, I don't understand a lot about social dynamics. I can't read people, I misinterpret people's moods, meanings and agendas *all the time*, and I have a really hard time making real friends. My friends are either work acquaintances or serial significant others.

To talk about causality, though, is hard for me. Was I unsuccessful socially because I have difficulty interpreting everyday social cues, or is my interpretation difficulty due to my early school difficulties? I'm not sure this can be known.

As far as I can tell, the less socialized a group of people is, the more likely it is to turn on the weakest members of the group. Everyone on this earth has weaknesses; some are more obvious than others, some hide them better than others, but the weaknesses exist. Perhaps the socially successful simply learn earliest to hide their weaknesses, and then have a head-start in terms of learning 'adult'/normal social skills as a result of their early success.

One thing Stossel glossed over in his report, I feel, is the complicity of some teachers. It's not just a matter of teachers all overlooking the problem, or some rationalizing the behavior ('that's just kids', 'boys will be boys', etc); I saw cases where teachers themselves pick on the weak, buy into the bias against a student, or bully a kid themselves. I can name a few teachers like this that I have encountered, a couple in elementary school, one in high school. They are few, but I'd guess they have high impact on the affected student. What could be worse to a kid than having an adult ratify how his peers are treating him?

If this became a rant, I apologize. It's something I have thought about, although I like to think I've moved well past those years.

A rant, but a good one (4.50 / 4) (#32)
by UncleMikey on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:19:00 PM EST

If this became a rant, I apologize.

It is a bit of a rant, but don't apologize. I, at least, appreciate it, because it mirrors much of my own experience. I don't think I had it quite as bad as you did in Elementary school (not having glasses at all probably helped there, a bit), but I didn't have a remotely pleasant school experience until Junior High. Much as you did, I adopted something of a persona, and gradually grew into it in such a way that I not only gained a social circle, but actually found over time that some of the people who hadn't previously given me the time of day suddenly thought I was worth talking to.

What really fascinates me, these days, is that I'm involved in a fairly large organization (the Society for Creative Anachronism's Twin Cities chapter boasts 300+ members), almost all of whom have had similar 'not the in crowd' experiences as children. In short, not unlike many SF fan clubs, it's basically an 'in crowd' for the out crowd.

Except, of course, that such a large group develops its own in crowds and out crowds. Many of us who were ostricised as children don't seem to have any difficulty doing the same thing to others when circumstances present an opportunity. The result is that, despite (or perhaps because of) the group's size, a newcomer can find they have nobody to talk to!

People. Can't live with 'em. Can't eat 'em.
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

My Thoughts (4.75 / 8) (#30)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 06:13:43 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

No. I changed schools a few times. In some, I was bullied. In others - where bullying didn't happen - I was just normal. In the secondary school where I ended up, bullying was unfortunately routine.

What do you think makes someone popular?

You don't half ask hard questions. What counts as "popular" is not always very popular. "Popular" kids are often secretly hated. I think what you actually mean is that "what gives someone a high social status ?". Generally speaking, people who act confidently, and remain confident even when challenged, have a high social status.

However, there's a different between having a high status and being a bully, and between having a low status and being bullied. Indeed, the people who actually do bully others, are often only just above them in the social scale. Most importantly: bullying is not a routine event. There are many schools where it does not happen, and it is the fault of the bullies, not their victims.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

Not really. I have always been academically successfuly. Computer stuff just comes naturally. I would like to wave my pay-slips in front of a few people, though.

What can we do you help our children succeed socially?

Give them confidence in themselves. The behaviour of authority figures seems to be crucial. If their parents and teachers are arbitrary and violent, children come to lack self-confidence. If they offer guidance and praise, children become confident.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate

Schoolyard politics (5.00 / 8) (#34)
by fink on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:41:53 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?
No. Definitely not.
What do you think makes someone popular?
This is what made me unpopular. I guess if you take this, and reverse it, you'll be halfway home.
  • I was too "intelligent". By that, I mean that in the junior grades I did really well, and didn't even attempt to conceal it. Kids, particularly where I lived, were very much of the opinion that being smart/intelligent was a Very Very Bad Thing.
  • I was very much not into sport. As with a lot of what I do, I'm either good at (and enjoy) something, or I plainly refuse to do it. If I'm made to do something I don't want to, I do it badly. If you're not into sport, you're fighting an uphill battle in being popular.
  • I was ugly. Still am. Shoot me for my crime.
  • I was unpopular. Unpopularity begets unpopularity. Once you're unpopular, it doesn't take much to stay that way, and a hell of a lot to change it.
  • I wasn't, as far as they were concerned, Australian. Being a New Zealander in itself is a "crime" to a lot of the kids I went to school with. Doesn't matter if you have naturalisation or whatever to back you up, the fact that your accent isn't Australian causes a lot of needling. Needling in turn causes unpopularity; kids don't want to be around when you're being picked on, lest the people doing the needling turn on them. Vicious cycle.
  • I gave up caring about the above - which in turn helps make you more unpopular. Must be some psychological thing - the more one ignores peer pressure, the more peer pressure is exerted...
It didn't really bother me being unpopular. Of course, I would have liked being popular, but it wasn't going to kill me to be unpopular, so I didn't allow myself to be bothered by it.
Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?
No. By the time I got to year ten (about 15 in .qld.au), I didn't care any more what others thought. If I was to succeed in something, it was because I cared to succeed, not because of any petty "I'll show `em" attitude.

Another reason that I'm "successful" where others aren't, is simply because I stuck it out. Anyone could have done what I did, no special talent was required, other than a certain amount of tenacity. By year twelve (17) my grades had become what some would consider "average", mainly because the work I was doing I found harder. And I didn't really know how to study, having never had to study in the junior grades. Those who had always had to study ended up doing just as well as me; by most measures these people are equally successful as I. Anyone could do that.

The "popular" kids, by and large, didn't make it to the end of high school, and didn't make it to uni. The "popular" kids left school at 15 or 16 to go and do labouring work available in the town I grew up in. As a note, only 30% of the initial high school class made it through to senior, and only about 10% made it to uni. My "popularity" increased as time went on, as did everyone else's, simply because the unpopular kids were the only ones left.

Work was (and is) plentiful where I'm from, and most of the "popular" kids think of school as an uncool place to be, and don't think of the long term benefits of it. That's fine, they're happy doing what they're doing, and I'm happy doing what I'm doing.

What can we do to help our children succeed socially?
Very little. Kids will be kids, they'll always pick on the "weakest" in their bunch. What the definition of "weakest" is, will change from time to time. One day, maybe, being the smart ugly kid who hates sport will be popular, but I doubt this will ever come to be.

Our collective obsession with sportspeople knows no bounds, and this is reflected by our kids' collective attitudes to sport.

Likewise, we as a society put a lot of pressure on looks, so kids reflect this too.

Envy is the last in this group. By nature, humans are envious of anything which they percieve as "better" than them, and will do a lot to ensure that the betterness is removed. Kids therefore tend to dislike those who they see as intelligent, and do a lot to bring them down. This in turn causes all kids to avoid the intelligent ones like the plague, for fear of getting picked on themselves.

Besides, popularity when mixed with a desire to remain popular can be a bad thing. Imagine a kid with a lot of potential who decides that since (s)he's popular, (s)he is going to do the "cool" thing of not doing too well in class. Deliberately. I've seen this happen. That kid is potentially excluding themselves from later 'success' simply by not trying to do well. They might miss That Uni Course, or later, That Job simply because they didn't apply themselves enough when they needed it.


Answering the questions. (4.66 / 6) (#35)
by UncleMikey on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:43:51 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

I suppose that depends on how you define 'popular', and also on when you take the snapshot. Elementary school? Definitely not, by any standard. Junior High? Not really, but I at least had friends (including friends of the opposite sex, if not legitimate girlfriends yet).

High School is when things started changing for me, even tho' I was never in any of the stereotypical categories for popularity. Athletic? Not at all -- I was, and remain, a sedentary creature, more prone to sitting in front of my computer screen than anything remotely athletic. Stature? Nope again -- 5'6" and round. Humour? There I get some points, but my sense of humour is so geeky that not all my peers got it.

I never thought of myself as popular in High School, even when individual members of the in-crowd started deciding I was worth talking to. It wasn't until the end of my senior year, when the 'popularity polls' in the yearbook turned up my name in several categories, that it occurred to me that a large fraction of the student body knew who I was!

These days, I do consider myself popular, within my own geeky crowd, but I'm damned if I can figure out how or why. And of course, as Lee Malatesta points out in his response, all of the trials and tribulations of an 'out-crowd' childhood are past-tense. I'm 32.5 years old. I've now been out of public school for longer than I was ever in it. It did make a difference to who I am today, but it doesn't dominate my life.

What do you think makes someone popular?

See above :-) I've no idea. There are times when I think it has nothing to do with looks or personality, and is just a random matter of pheremones or something.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

Not really. I was driven to succeed by a desire not to suck :-) Still am.

What can we do you help our children succeed socially?

G-d, I dunno, honestly. Each generation is so different from the next that it's extremely difficult, I think for one's parents to understand the exact environment kids are in at any given time. However, I think the best hope kids have is to have their parents support. I survived my less popular days because I knew that there was always someone who thought I was worthwhile. The kids who have it hardest are undoubtedly those whose parents give no evidence of valuing their children.
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]

Successful People (3.11 / 9) (#38)
by Double Dave Deluxe on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:49:04 PM EST

Many successful people were not popular and this has been a driving factor to succeed.

It's called compensating for an inferiority complex. It isn't really a good thing. People who suffer from this have a tendency to take out their frustrations on others, given the chance. They are the bosses who behave like jerks to demonstrate their power over their underlings. When deprived of the success they crave, they can even become as violent as the bullies who tormented them.

Their drive to succeed is at heart a dishonest one, fueled purely by a desire to be perceived as a winner. It compounds the problems with socialization they developed in school, and can make them quite unpleasant to be around. You certainly don't want to find yourself in the company of one of these people when they are failing at life.

It's called armchair psychology (2.00 / 2) (#39)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 07:54:09 PM EST

Actually it's called armchair psychology, you're doing it, and it's pointless. People are complicated - you can't boil someone down into an 'inferiority complex.'

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Now it's called denial (2.00 / 2) (#45)
by Double Dave Deluxe on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:14:41 PM EST

Allowing early social problems to dominate your life isn't healthy. I'm sorry. People who are mistreated in high school emerge with very deep emotional scars. Pretending that they can profit from this isn't productive. You don't overcome your problems by building your life around them.

Of course, it might just be easier to bleat "people are wonderful, complicated and endlessly varied". That way you don't have to consider the very logical assumption that people who suffer the same poor treatment from their peers often develop similar problems as a result of that treatment. To pretend otherwise is worse than armchair psychology. It's obscurantism.

[ Parent ]

What's wrpng with being a winner? (1.25 / 12) (#43)
by m0rzo on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:09:01 PM EST

You fucking defeatist. You're not fit to walk this sacred earth, you feeble minded pleb. I aspire to be elite, there's nothing wrong with that. Give your life purpose, because otherwise you're just another somebody. Useless.

My last sig was just plain offensive.
[ Parent ]

What's wrong with reading? (2.00 / 2) (#46)
by Double Dave Deluxe on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:16:55 PM EST

I never said there was anything wrong with being a winner. Read the post again, this time for comprehension.

[ Parent ]
When I was growing up (3.57 / 7) (#49)
by freakie on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 08:35:14 PM EST

Where you one of the popular kids?

I was never popular in school - I was catagorized as "above average intelligence" and was placed in the higher level courses. Only the geeks were put in those courses. I did well in school so I would succeed at whatever I chose to do in my later life.

By the time I got to high school, I was 5 feet tall, weighed 94 pounds, wore a size 2, and was already a DD-cup. This apparently made me a slut. The guys hit on me all the time, the girls hated me. I hung around with the geeks and was always accepted for being intelligent and having a rather wicked sense of humor.

At least I finished school, went to university, have a decent job. Most of the kids from my high school days got pregnant by their senior year, or are now in management at McDonalds. If that is what popular gets you - no thanks!

What do you think makes someone popular?

Of that, I have no idea. I'm a super geek by most standards. I live in a different world from the mainstream. In my world - geeks are geeks.

Were you drive to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

No I wasn't. I am driven to succeed in whatever I do simply because I am driven to succeed. To me, doing my ultimate best is what counts.

What can we do to help our children succeed socially?

I haven't any idea on this one!

"Give'm Etch-a-Sketches...they'll never know the difference!"

Tired answers (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by ksandstr on Sat Feb 16, 2002 at 11:00:52 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?
I'm not so sure there was an "in crowd" in our equivalent to middle school (ages 13 to 15 inclusive - maybe this is more like junior high?); from what I remember there was more like a bunch of loosely defined cliques, determined more by who you preferred to hang out with and what grade you were in than by "rank". I suppose there may have been some girls who'd watched foreign movies a bit too closely or had become a subclass of elitist some other way, but as far as I could tell everyone just regarded them a bit odd. Athletics wasn't really emphasized at our school and in a way, being only smart was regarded better than only being good at sports.

What do you think makes someone popular?
I hung out with people who had same kind of interests as I did; I suppose you could call us geeks, although most of us got along pretty well with anyone else from the same class.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?
I never really gave two shits what everyone else thought about me; I'd gotten used to both classmates and teachers regarding me a little weird since third grade (age 9). Since I was among the "tall elite" during most of my school time since before I dropped out, very few dared to try and bully me or anything, especially after seventh grade (age 13).

What can we do you help our children succeed socially?
Damned if I know. Ask again in 15 years.

Who knows (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by m3000 on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 12:54:06 AM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?
I was never really "popular" but I've been in several stages of "un-popularness". Throughout most of elementry school, and especially middle school, I was in the lower 20% that that article talks about. I was ridiculed, ostracized, beat up, bulllied, etc etc. High school was actually better, as kids are usually more mature than in middle school. And the last two years of high school were actually pretty good. I wasn't in the "in" crowd, but I did have some good friends, and no one was beating me up or making fun of me anymore. My brother, who is currently in middle school, is going through a lot of the same stuff that I went through. I think middle school kids are a lot harsher than high school, or at least that's been my experiances. I'm a freshman in college now btw.

What makes someone popular?
Good looks are a big help. Also have to be funny, witty, and be smooth with talking. Confidence is also key, one of the things I noticed in middle school, was that sometimes the difference between the cool kids and the losers like me was just how we would react to stuff. The popular kids were jsut a lot confident about what they did. And a interest in alcohol is also key.

Were you driven to succeed?
No, I don't think my experiances had much to do with how well I'm doing academically. I think I would have done just as well even if I had never been made fun of. However I do think it has affected me. It's taken a long time to get some self-confidence in myself, and to learn how to make friends and just making small talk with people. I think its' also made me nicer towards people, because I know how much it sucks to be made fun of, or gossiped about or whatever. And I still feel like people inherently don't like me when they first meet me, even if there is nothing to suggest that.

What can we do to help our children?
I'm not sure if there is anything. Maybe get teachers to stop bullying in the classrooms, especially PE coaches (PE was the worst). One thing that I LOVED was honors/advanced courses, because (yes, I know this is a big sterotype) smarter kids tend to be more mature, and well I just know I was teased a whole lot less in honors classes than in a "regular" class. And then just being there for your kids, because I know my parents were always supportative and always there for me.

Funny you should mention it... (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by UncleMikey on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 10:57:58 AM EST

One thing that I LOVED was honors/advanced courses, because (yes, I know this is a big sterotype) smarter kids tend to be more mature,

Ironically, I found myself ostricised more by my fellow braniacs (or some of them, anyway) than by some of the middling sort. I was in Advanced classes most of my school career, but all of my enduring friends from High School (and I do have a few) weren't. Rather, they were involved in the creative endeavours (chorus, band, drama). I was part of both crowds, but the latter crowd is where I 'fit in', for the most part. The only fellow Advanced students I got along with were those who also 'crossed over' into the creative activities. The ones who never did anything else must have thought I wasn't really geeky enough or something :-)
[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
[ Parent ]

Schools are prisons! (3.75 / 4) (#60)
by andrewhy on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 01:32:25 AM EST

I've come to the conclusion that the social structure of the typical public school resembles one thing: prison. Both are state-run, compulsory, and very authoritarian. You're subject to a cliquish social structure with a well-defined pecking order. And much like prison, there's an undercurrent of cruelty with the stronger frequently displaying their superiority over the weak or inferior.

Of course, this is a rather negative comparison. It may be less than true depending on where you went to school and on your place in the social hierarchy. But almost no other experience in adult life compares to the social dynamics of the public school system.

That interesting analogy aside, my experience through much of elementary and high school had been rather negative. The first 3 and last 3 years aside, the years in-between were hell. The main reason was because my family moved around a lot during my childhood. From 4th to 9th grade, I was in 5 different schools. I think that stability is an important part of childhood development. Being the new kid in the class every couple of years is hard, especially when one isn't so well-adjusted to begin with. The theme of moving from place to place is something that has stuck with me even as an adult.

As far as the questions go, what makes someone popular? I think it's the same things that usually make people popular in all spheres of life: good looks, athletic (or even mental) prowess, and even socio-economic standing. It's usually just what you're born with.

And as far as helping children succeed, the programs that the report talked about should be quite helpful. Oftentimes, the social nit-picking is just considered part of childhood, but schools should try to create an atmoshpere where all children feel safe and accepted. Especially after Columbine, it has become apparent that there are negative consequences to bullying.

If "Noise" means uncomfortable sound, then pop music is noise to me -- Masami Akita, aka "Merzbow"

They look like prisons, too (none / 0) (#77)
by rigorist on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 11:58:25 PM EST

I judge high school debate rounds, so I get to make the rounds of local high schools to judge tournaments.

I am also a lawyer, and get to make the rounds of local jails and prisons to see clients.

Modern high schools and modern prisons look exactly the same.

Life is not a fucking Ayn Rand novel.

[ Parent ]
Growing up..... (4.50 / 2) (#63)
by robotic on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 03:53:15 AM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?
At first, absolutely no. In elementry school I was very unpopular. I was regularly made fun of by other kids. I wore glasses, and was in the "gifted" classes, so that didn't help. Plus, I had major anger management problems, and would throw temper tantrums often.... I'm sure that other kids would tease me because they were expecting a response like that.

Middle school was slightly different. I gradually became part of a group, pretty much the crowd that would listen to "alternative-rock", skate, and do various drugs (though I didn't skate or do any drugs.) I had friends, but my only close friend and I had a falling out around 8th grade after he told me he'd only be friends with me if I "changed and became more cool" or something like that. My middle school had far worse problems. There was no discipline what so ever. We got a new fire alarm system installed, and for 3 months we would have 7 false alarms a day. (Eventually our moron of a vice-principal got on the PA and anounced that we could "ignore any fire alarms unless he said over the PA that it was real." I'm sure he could have gotten fired for that. Especially since our school was firebombed 4 years earlier.) We also had major race problems at our school. The school was majority black and asian, and though most people in the school had no problem, a small group of black kids decided that it was their job to "beat up all the white kids" in the school. They would walk around the gym asking everyone "Are you white? And if you answered yes, they would inform you that they would beat you up after school. We had riots for no reason outside the school several times. I was beaten with a shoe in our gym locker, and after I reported it, the person who beat me told the principal "Someone else threw the shoe, and I tried to catch it and it hit him, and it only looked like I was hitting him." Right. And the principal believed this. Anyway, middle school sucked.

High school was better. I went to a very large high school, so there were many cliques, but no real "popular group". I became a member of a few cliques (my main was friends from Jazz Band.) After the jazz band guys graduated, I hung out with the skater-punks for a while, until I got sick of them and spent the rest of the year reading during lunch and breaks, which was very nice. There were no fights at my high school, in general everyone was pretty mature. It was an academic high school, you had to have high scores to get in (it was public though). 96% or the class went to college. This probably had a big part of the reason that high school wasn't too bad.

College is absolutely great. I learned here how to be confidant about myself, and have two groups of friends: FutureTruck friends and Jazz Band friends. I spend more time with the FutureTruck guys, but I party more with the jazz band guys :).

I actually never drank or smoked anything until I came to college, but here I've started partying (in moderation) with my friends. I think the reason that college is so great is that here people finally appreciate you for your skills, not for how you look or act (though that still has a lot to do with it. I know that my friends and I ostracize some people that are particularly annoying or arragant, I feel bad about it, but do it anyway.)

Sorry if that got a bit long, I'm tired and rambling, but I think my point got through somewhere.

Sig: Maybe someday...

Guilt by association (5.00 / 4) (#64)
by Corwin on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 04:01:06 AM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

For the first couple years, yes. Then no for many years, and then yes again, to a lesser degree.

In kindergarten and for the first couple grades everybody knew me. Heck, I was hanging out with some of the 8th graders! That was pretty darn cool.

Then somewhere around grade two or three it fell apart. It was me being a nice guy that did it. I noticed a couple people who were often being ridiculed by the rest of the class, so I tried to be friends with them. All of a sudden my popularity vanished and I was never able to regain it. Those two nerds were my only friends throughout elementary school (we added a third nerd later on). I stayed part of the pariahs until grade seven or eight, when I finally decided that I didn't really care what everybody else thought of me, rewired by behaviour patterns, and stopped trying to be "cool".

Oddly enough, doing that started to make me cool again, along with the departure of the people who disliked me the most.

What do you think makes someone popular?

Circumstance, and confidence. The popular people that everybody followed around were confident and willing to take on a leadership role. As I recall, the most popular ones were also good athletes, so I would imagine the ability to potentially put down any threat to their leadership is a factor (not that the situation ever arose, but we're wired to some degree to accept alpha-male/female status). One in particular also had every console platform and game that existed, which I imagine helped a bit.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

Nah, I don't think so. I wanted to succeed for myself. Even at fourteen (and before?) I knew there was no way I was going to take on a job at McDonalds.

What can we do to help out children succeed socially?

Don't have them?

Well, okay, aside from that, I'd suggest enrolling them in extracirricular programs of some sort that gets them socializing with other groups of people. It was pretty interesting when I joined Karate in grade 8 and wound up training in the adult class with 30-year olds who knew just as much as I did about the material being taught.

Note about some physical factors: I'm thin, tall, didn't wear glasses until high school, didn't play sports (but was damn good at volleyball whenever it came up in gym class) and was only in one fight in my entire school career, which I won.

I'm in search of myself. Have you seen me anywhere?
Popular as a punching bad (4.00 / 2) (#67)
by X-Nc on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 10:30:50 AM EST

For as long as I can remember the only popularity I had was as one of the handfull of kids that got the $hit kicked out of them on a daily basis. I've been stuffed in a locker, beaten up, had rocks throwen at me, etc. The effect this had on me was to give me one hell of an infierority complex. It wasn't until I reached my mid to late 30's that I finaly got some real selfesteem. However, it still effects me to this day. I'm not what anyone would call a highly motivated person. Oh well, at least I'm still in the game.

Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
High School (3.00 / 2) (#69)
by Husaria on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 12:10:39 PM EST

I was popular for being a dork. I estientally sold myself out to the bullies in high school to become popular so I would not go insane, (ah, if I was as bad as they and decided to plant trojans in all their computers, I was the one they turned to when their computers broke) In HS, its if you can provide for things, athetlic ability and confidence/ability to do things Yes, everyone had made me feel like I was the lowest piece of shit known to man. They always joked that I'd come back rich as Bill Gates in 10 years. I'm in college now and that is one of my motivations of finish it. If we want to help our children succeed socially in school, eliminate the school-sponsored gangs, the jocks. Quit the damned support and actually care about the students and we might succeed, otherwise, it'll be a vicious cycle.

I dunno... (4.50 / 2) (#70)
by Icehouseman on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 01:22:46 PM EST

1. Were you one of the popular kids?
A little. I played football for 4 years, but I was never a star player or anything; just one of the work horses, I suppose. The most popular kids usually had lots of friends to hang around with at school. Usually I was alone, did my own thing, but at the same time everybody knew my name; said good luck on Friday before the games and stuff. I guess to sum up my summary: People knew me and knew who I was; but didn't hang around with me a lot.

2. What do you think makes someone popular?
The popular kids in high school all had one thing in common. They were all very nice people. They were able to talk to anyone about anything. Everybody liked them because they were nice to everyone. It seems like a lot of movies have a nasty habit of making popular kids look like assholes (Never Been Kissed, not that this a very accurate perception of high school) But I'd like to see on them explain how assholes become the person everybody likes.

3. Where you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?
No, I've always aimed low, that way when something good comes along I can take it as a nice surprise.

4. What can you do to help your child succeed socially?
Personally I'd do nothing. My children will have their own lives to live and they will have to be able to be social themselves. My dad never cared about me being able to socialize with people; he just wanted me to help with the chores.
Bush's $3 trillion state is allegedly a mark of "anti-government bias" on the right. -- Anthony Gregory

Questions... (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by jdtux on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 01:59:09 PM EST

I'm currently in HS, so here goes...

Am/was I one of the popular kids?
nope, don't think so. I was never really one of the nerds that got beat up either, grades 1-3, well, everyone got along back then. 4-6, looking back, I was such a little computer freak, one of those annoying ones who thought they knew everything but really knew nothing(I don't know how anyone put up with me). 7-9, not too bad.. wasn't all that social, but wasn't anti-social either. I went to dances and stuff.

now, my first year of HS.. it's going pretty well. the school is a LOT bigger, and I've met a bunch of new people, made a lot of new friends(mostly people in other cadets squadrons/corps). I'm not one of the REALLY popular people, but a lot of people recognize me cause of my hair(I've got really thick hair that stands up by itself.. everyone likes it)

what makes someone popular:
in my opinion, they're ability to talk to and socialize with other people. confidence also plays a big part

were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated?
dunno... I'm not treated too badly. I do know I want a career in something I enjoy doing(computers somwheres..)

what can we do to help our children succeed socially?
hmmm.. let us do whatever we want? :D just don't be too over protective, and explain reasons for things out to us. sometimes we don't like to think :)

There are in crowds, and then there are in crowds. (5.00 / 2) (#74)
by Apuleius on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 10:49:10 PM EST

Up until high school, I was the kid who often got beat up. High school, however was a totally different scene. My school was a selective admissions public school in Chicago. Almost every student went through school with one question ringing through his head: "how the fsck do I get out of this shithole city without bankrupting my parents?" The jocks, i.e. the in-crowd, had one answer, and they presumed the geeks were acting on the same motives. Also, since crime was a problem, they considered it understandable that geeks would dress sloppily to avoid being mugged. So there never was much of a pecking order. (One football player I knew boasted of having saved a geek from a mugging.)

It didn't hurt that the coaches in the school were serious about sportsmanship. From that perspective, picking a fight with someone manifestly unwilling and unable to fight back is the height of cowardice. It also didn't hurt that the administration considered violent incidents to be a police matter, and that few of us had parents who could spring for bail.

I was an outcast until the middle of freshman year when I got my bearings. Then I was with the geek crowd. In my junior year I joined the wrestling team and got to hang with several crowds. I had enough of a chip on my shoulder because of home life, but so did everyone.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Immature (5.00 / 2) (#75)
by labradore on Sun Feb 17, 2002 at 11:01:31 PM EST

The thing I remember most clearly about being young was being surrounded by people who I thought were immature and uninteresting. I daydreamed a lot. My second grade teacher once said, "He spends all day looking out the window. Our classroom doesn't have any windows." I think I didn't figure out that other people had valid thoughts or feelings until 7th or 8th grade. I got picked on a lot. I had no idea how to talk to uninteresting or shallow people and I still don't today.

Shooting the breeze: (none / 0) (#81)
by xj.479 on Mon Feb 18, 2002 at 08:04:33 PM EST

A skill some are born with, others struggle with like a second language. Highly overrated.

[ Parent ]
Schooldays. (5.00 / 2) (#79)
by katie on Mon Feb 18, 2002 at 06:41:14 AM EST

>Were you one of the popular kids?

Not in the slightest. I was "different" and hence a viable target. The UK education system has this lovely tendency to just abandon the different and let them be torn apart.

20 years later, I've actually more or less finished recovering from school. Just some lingering paranoia and depression to cope with.

It really shouldn't take that long. It should happen at all. There is something deeply morally wrong with a system that psychologically damaged significant numbers of people and then refers to that as acceptable casualties.

>What do you think makes someone popular?

From experience, the perfect mix would seem to be "able to play football and shoplift" for the boys and just "able to shoplift" for the girls.

>Were you driven to succeed because of how you >were treated by others?

No. I wanted to "succeed" for myself until I worked out what success ought to mean for me.

>What can we do you help our children succeed >socially?

Teach them to shoplift well.

Actually, giving them a sensibly balanced society might work. One where sports skills are not valued above all else. Where the punishment for gangs beating people up is not "asking them not to do it again".

When people turn up to schools psychologically damaged, they need to be placed where they can't hurt others. If they demonstrate that they're not fit for integration into the general school society, the solution isn't just to place them there anyway and have everyone else suffer. I don't care how you label them or what you do to them, but having them hit me and then call them the victims is Not On.

<grin> (none / 0) (#80)
by katie on Mon Feb 18, 2002 at 06:42:52 AM EST

"It really shouldn't take that long. It should happen at all."


[It's Monday, OK.]

[ Parent ]
Are you kidding? (4.75 / 4) (#82)
by epepke on Tue Feb 19, 2002 at 06:23:00 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

I am reading Kuro5hin. Of course I wasn't one of the popular kids!

I'm interested in what you experienced in school and what effect this had on your life.

Man, where to start? From Robert M. Sapolsky, "Beelzebub's SAT Scores," The Trouble with Testosterone:

A fondness for thinking often carries a cost. Sure, everyone had their adolescent miseries, but there is a characteristic type for the ones who were eggheads. This is the adolescent world of being picked last for sports teams or, worse, being picked first when some displacement aggression was in order. A world of always being a suitable source of answers to homework questions but never a suitable date. The ludicrous array of deflective personality twitches meant to cover up the fact that you were smart and into school or really obsessed with hermit crabs or topology or plate tectonics. And even decades later, even among those who metamorphosed into happy, fulfilled, secure adults, there is often still a necrotic core of anger somewhere down there at how bad it was back when. These are the stigmata of geekdom.

He has it right. The rest of this consists of my experiences that support this. I'll show you my necrotic core of anger. You have been warned.

OK, I was at Pine View, which at the time was the only Federally-funded program for "the gifted" in the United States. In order to get in, you had to pass an upward-modified IQ test with a minimum of 140. My number was 187. Most of the kids were rich; in fact one of them failed the test twice and only managed to get in after his father gave the school a hefty grant. I was lower middle-class.

I don't know if this disclosure has an immediate impact, but think about it. If you think isn't fun to be the smart kid in a school of normal people, try being the really smart kid amongst a bunch of smart kids. Not only do you get to play the same role, but it's amongst kids who are accustomed to thinking of themselves as the smart ones and who actually are smart enough to oppress effectively.

One of the fun games was this. On the rare occasions that any girl decided that she "liked" me, two girls (Carrie Surfus and Amy Currin) went to the target, "befriended" her, and told her that I had an extra Y chromosome and was therefore not male at all. (Of course, this was and is untrue.) They did this so skillfully that I did not find out about it until age 33. They may have been acting under the guidance of a ringleader, but I don't have any conclusive evidence against her, so I won't mention her name.

But anyway, that and other information caused me to go through a rebellion. Instead of believing that things would just get better and if they didn't it was my fault, attitudes ingrained into me starting from when I was too young to defend myself or even be aware of what was being done to me, I threw off the common platitudes and set down methodically to solve the problem of attracting women. I succeded completely, but only about 20 years too late.

I think the term "the gifted" should be stricken from the language, to be replaced with "the cursed." The thing is that everybody feels justified in making their lives a living hell because they're so fucking gifted that they deserve to be kicked at every possible opportunity. What they don't realize or, more likely, don't give a wet slap about is that it doesn't feel like a gift at all when everybody's kicking you. Besides, what gift? The world is run by C students.

Yeah, it's affected my life.

What do you think makes someone popular?

Every human society is defined by the people it excludes. People become popular according to how effectively they keep others unpopular.

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

Good question. No, not at first. I spent about until 1994 trying to Do Good, specifically as a research scientist in an unclassified computational research institute, studying the weather and oil spills and fundamental problems of physics and Alzheimer's disease and quantum chemistry and whatever. Yeah, I know that was naive and stupid. When the institute began its self-destruction, I spent until 1998 trying to accrete and keep a semblance of a family. When that was ruined by my wife running off with a Mayo clinic doc with a security clearance, and I was broke and alone, and had to move in with my mother, who seemed to need me most to change her dressings and give me displacement aggression. Then my only human friend who didn't vanish when I went broke wanted to see me, as long as I would defend her from her ex-boyfriend against whom she had a restraining order, who was only there because she had invited him back after he had been convicted of abusing her, and something snapped in me.

As a result, I spent more than two years in Atlanta doing little but make money, though I did have a girlfriend who, after a couple of months, spent most of her time displaying contempt for me. So, yes, I was driven to success. I was good at making money but not very good at fitting in with the universal plutocratic sociopathy of Atlanta culture, yet determined to grit it out. But then a stray dog adopted me, and all those irritating positive emotions like love and honor and the desire to be decent come flooding out of the recesses of my brain, and I'm now getting out of Atlanta to an insecure future as a consultant. We'll see how that goes.

What can we do to help our children succeed socially?

As the old joke goes, "what you mean 'we,' White Man?" Unless a miracle happens, I don't get to have children. My body is fine, but it is a 40-year-old body. I can have all the divorcees with tubal ligations that I can eat, but that doesn't help me have children. Oh well, money may change that, and if I'm fierce enough, I just might be able to get enough before it's too late.

So, I'll address the question of what can you do to make your children popular. That's easy. Teach them to make other children unpopular. That's how it's done.

Nobody wants to encourage the situations that would make everyone reasonably happy without hurting others. They want the zero-tolerance policy so that the school administrators can pick on the kid that has fewer than average friends. They want schools to hire as counselors the people who have the most empathy with bullies, who are the Real Victims, not that bloody pulp in the schoolyard, who deserved it because he was an egghead. They get the bumper stickers that say "My Child Beat Up Your Honor Student" and think it's a great joke. The only lesson they learned from Columbine is that it's a really good idea to do unto any kid who likes Ramstein first, because they're all a bunch of evil kids.

I can just smell the fingers poised to type responses putting me down for answering your questions. But remember, you were warned.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

Not popular and proud of it (none / 0) (#83)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Feb 21, 2002 at 05:42:56 PM EST

Were you one of the popular kids?

Nope! I fit the classic definition of "4 eyed geek". However I could and did fight back, so I didn't have too much trouble with bullies after the first year.

What do you think makes someone popular?

Sports skill (which I didn't have), Charisma (definatly not me), athletic build (I was tall, but skinny)

Were you driven to succeed because of how you were treated by others?

I don't know if it had much to do with my success, but I learned to armor myself against peer-pressure, and avoided destructive habits (why do drugs just cause everyone else does, besides I'm smarter than these lusers anyway)

What can we do you help our children succeed socially?

I don't have children, and likely never will so I haven't really given that much thought.
Information wants to be beer.

Is popularity all it's cracked up to be? (none / 0) (#84)
by attoret on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 03:04:37 PM EST

First of all, there's a vast gap between not being popular and not being terrorized (as so many people on this board have experienced.) I personally was not in the "in" jock/cheerleader crowd, but then again, I never particularly wanted to be. (I'm missing a sports gene and find them to be excruciatingly boring as a rule.)

On the other hand, I wasn't terrorized. I did have a close circle of friends (drama geeks, as I think someone on this board called them) that offered the social and intellectual link-up I needed.

I don't think my popularity or lack of same has really had a tremendous effect on my drive to succeed. (If that drive isn't inborn and is only created as a type of revenge against those who teased us it's not going to bring any satisfaction anyway.)

I wonder if most of the people on this board *really* would want to be popular in that there are purportedly two types of personalities: people who are energized by having a lot of people around them and people who, though they enjoy a certain amount of personal contact, are stressed by too much of it and are energized by "alone time".

People who are "popular" generally *need* to have people around them and are strongly motivated to make that happen. People who in their heart of hearts really enjoy being alone aren't as motivated to do whatever it takes to be popular (especially if that means acting in ways contrary to their nature.)

There's also no two ways around it. Popular people generally possess that indefinable quality of charisma that makes other people trip over themselves to try to please the charismatic person. Why some people are blessed with it and others are not is hard to say. (Any more than we can explain why some people are blessed with more intelligence than others or are born more beautiful than others.)

I don't think there's any way you can *make* someone popular. You can help a child be successful socially by modeling and molding socially pleasing behavior, by helping children learn to read social and emotional cues, and by encouraging them to participate in activities that interest them.

Just for the record, I think it's wrong to assume that popularity is a guarantee of happiness. My mother was head cheerleader at her school and said she was often very lonely since no one outside her group would ever call her or invite her anywhere because they were too intimidated to call, assuming she'd always have something better to do.

My "popularity experience" (none / 0) (#85)
by the original jht on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 10:02:42 AM EST

To answer these as succinctly as possible:

- No, not at all. I was way ahead of my classes in most areas, and my interests were sufficiently esoteric that the "gifted program" I was enrolled in during elementary school (in Connecticut - I moved there from NYC in 4th grade) wasn't a very good fit, either. I had a very strong early interest in computers, but the school system kinda beat it out of me and I didn't head back that way until college. In elementary school I was a total outcast, in junior high I was still somewhat of an outcast, and by high school I finally moved somewhat into a hierarchy (I was a track athlete and active in theater - I was also into rock climbing and competitive cycling, which passed for "extreme" sports back then and gained me some "cool cred"). Starting in the summer before college, I worked for two summers at a day camp in the next town, where I was not on the "A" list by any means, but made friends easily and was reasonably popular. The best explanation I can give is that I was in an environment where people didn't already know me or have a history with me - and the accumulated social baggage of being a member of the "loser caste" didn't apply. In the right environment, you can often reinvent yourself just by showing up and being yourself. I was lucky there, and a couple of my closest friends today came out of that experience.

Once I went to college, I met most of the people who I remain friends with to this day. That was the best opportunity to find folks with similar natures and inclinations - for the most part a college is self-selecting whereas high school lumps in all the folks from a particular community (a much smaller group). If you fall even slightly outside the mainstream, then community schools will destroy you as best they can. When I cut the strings to home and stayed in Boston full-time is when I really learned to be an adult - and to not really care about those kind of things.

- What makes people popular depends. The qualities that often make adults popular turn children into outcasts. Most adults appreciate humor, varied interests, and things that make you stand out from the mainstream a little. And since adults can congregate fairly freely, they will be able to seek out and find those with similar interests.

Children are much less secure with themselves and their forming identities than adults are. Where adults tend to appreciate individuals, children only really value conformity. Most schooling is not designed to accomodate individualism - and acting differently sets you apart form the herd and makes you a target. So the popular ones tend to be physically attractive, smart but not too smart, skilled enough at sports to participate if not excel (team sports in particular), and get solid, if unspectacular grades without standing out too much in classes. Those people can usually move freely between a couple of groups, while the edgier people are locked fairly tightly into their particular caste.

Once in a while you encounter people who somehow transcend the conventional caste system and are popular and liked by everyone. Most schools seem to have one or two of this type - they may share interests with the outcasts, but they're popular anyways. In practice, the people who fit this description are the ones who got the beatdown early on, but had too much self-confidence to be affected. Kids sense self-confidence and are drawn to it (most of them lack it, so they are drawn to the few who have it) - part of why the star athletes are usually so popular, too.

- Was I driven to succeed because of my school experience? Probably, but I can't say definitively. My life thus far (I'm 35) has had it's share of bad and good formative experiences, but I'd say finding my own self in college was the biggest factor in making me who I am today. I'm also lucky in that I met the right woman shortly after dropping out (I said I learned a lot in college - I didn't say I learned it in the classes...), and eventually married her (10+ years ago). The support system a spouse provides in a healthy relationship is not to be underestimated.

- To help our children succeed, try to not let them become bitter. Teach them the value of self-confidence. Tell them you like them and value them, regardless of what everyone else thinks. Encourage them to follow their interests, and help them explore when they need your help.

- -Josh Turiel
"Someday we'll all look back at this and laugh..."

I asked my daughter what makes someone popular (none / 0) (#86)
by sweetie on Wed Mar 20, 2002 at 01:21:49 AM EST

My daughter is 13 and she said what makes a boy popular in her school is if they date a popular girl, dress gothic, being a good dancer or have an older sister or brother who was popular in school. What makes a girl popular is basically the same but of course dating a popular guy. She said the clothes are not an issue in her school.

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The "In" Crowd | 86 comments (83 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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