In many social settings, there is a tendency to divide in certain camps. You want to connect with the people you feel you have something in common with.
When I was in High School, there was generally 3 categories that people were divided in.
There were the “Bangers”. They were the lovers of the heavy metal music. They were identified by long, and in some cases “mullet” hair. Some wore what I would describe as half t-shirts with the band in the middle and the white shirt. Smoked outside
There was also the “Preps”. They were clean cut. Perfect hair. Polo shirt. Joined all the sports team. They were the most “noted” in my school
Then there were the “Nerds”. And when we talk about nerd, the mindset of the nerd has changed. While we now look at it as a compliment, it wasn’t always the case. The nerds were stuck in a corner and there was no fashion category that they could fit in. Generally, they were insulted and ignored.
And as much as there was some that denied that they belonged to a “category”, the fact is people were putting people in categories. We sized them up and made our own determination on “who they are”. And there was no better example than the High School Dance.
Do you remember the High School Dance? You might have been like me. Well, I’m not sure ANYONE was like me but maybe you were. Here’s an example of my High School Dance adventures.
I looked forward to them. How can you not? Dancing with girls. I spent the night before “practicing” my moves in my room. I was able to generally predict the songs that would be played. And I had moves. If there was an award for “Best Dancer in front of a mirror that no one saw” I would have won hands down.
Unfortunately, my practice did not translate to the dance floor. You see, I was .. how do you say this…” fashion challenged”. I had A LOT of hair. And it went up… and up… and up. I also had some interesting clothing choices. One outfit included a bright ,bright yellow sweater with checkered pants. This was not endearing. Or helpful
There was a time I saw a really pretty girl that I wanted to dance with. I spent a good chunk of the dance observing her. I wanted to talk to her, but I was nervous. So the dance is coming to a close and the time is short. I tempted to ask her the dance.
Me(Awkwardly): Would you like to dance?
Her: (Frightened by the thought): No, you know I’m really tired.
I then turn and go to my seat. I look up and lo and behold, she is up and dancing with another guy. I’m guessing she developed a second wind.
As much as we want to admit that this was just a “High School Thing”, if you observe enough social situations you will note that there is still a social pecking order. Let me give you an example. This might be you.
People walk into a room at a party. You remove your coat, you look around the room and look for the people you know. You naturally gravitate towards them as that is your connection.
Next, you will see someone you don’t. You will analyze if this is a person worthy to talk too. Somewhat instantly you make that decision. It may be yes. In which case you are intrigued by a conversation. Or, it may be no. But this person is still in approach mode and it would be rude to be impolite. Either way, this is how the conversation starts.
You: Hi, I’m……
You: What do you do?
Them: Blah, Blah, Blah. You?
You: Blah, blah blah.
In both cases, you try to make it as interesting as possible what you do. But do you not find it interesting that this is the first question that is generally asked. And is it not interesting the connections and the non-connections that come from a simple elevator speech?
And if you are at the party long enough, you will note who is connected with who. In some cases, who you are connected with can be very valuable. In some cases, you might be in the category of “popular”.
The perception of those that are “popular” is that they get noticed. When they get noticed, they get breaks. When they get noticed, you know them and lots about them. They may not know who you are. Good or bad, they get in the news.
And for those who are not, or have been rejected it’s different. Rejection leads to isolation, which can lead to depression and more.
On this day when we are discussing Bullying Awareness, I think it is important that we bring in the conversation about the “Social Status” and how it fits in this. I would argue that it may not be an obvious bullying tactic, but it can be subtle how we categorize people. This can be a form of bullying.
Whether it’s the awkward kid with the funny hair and odd dress habits, or the beautiful person people want to be around, we were created for community. We long to feel a form of acceptance for who we are. Not rejected for who we are not.
The question is how can we do that better?