Sociology 101: Why you’re an unpopular dork

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Have you ever noticed the ones that seem to throw around the labels and insults are the very same ones who blogged about being excluded in school?
– Robyn (“There is NO A-LIST”), of Tampatantrum

I’ve watched Robyn and her friends get very popular over the past few months… and I’ve seen her take more and more crap and criticism because of that popularity. As with Michele, Miz Kitty, Kottke, Zeldman… and any other so-called “A-Lister” that has come by…

I can lend some insight to that.

*screen blurs and squiggles back to 1983*
In high school, when I was transferred to Bushwick H.S., I was placed in the top class because of my grades. This was the same homeroom as the school president, vice-president, jocks, beauty queens (with brains), music majors, drama types…

They were considered “the cool kids”.
Intelligent, good looking, and they ran the school.

Technically, I considered myself “The Outsider”. On the fringe. Able to see both sides of the fence.

But I was new. I had the advantage of getting all my freshman dorkiness out of the way somewhere else… So by association and by default, I became one of the “cool kids” (By most people’s perspective). I related to the jocks, brainiacs, the beauty queens, I hung out with the musicians… I had it going on, baby. :0)

It was all an illusion. A combination of self-esteem and perception.

To the fat chick with glasses in the back, or the skinny nerdy kid with the bad acne, the “cool kids” seemed an elite, snobby pack that were unnaproachable. It was in their insecure minds that they can never be “one of them”. The “nerds” simply had a preconceived notion that they “weren’t good enough”.

They never even tried to approach them. They pre-judged the “cool kids” as snobs, and decided they would never be accepted.

Me? I had no problem talking to “the cool kids”. The cool kids were always nice to me. I also realized that they are just as dorky, and goofy, and had the same problems and insecurities as everyone else.

The difference was social ability, and “the cool kids” were better at concealing their dorkiness.

The “cool kids” also didn’t consider themselves “the cool kids”, or part of some “elite group”. They were popular because they made everyone around them feel good about themselves. They were interesting. They found you interesting. They were active in school, and their names were all over the place.

The “nerds” had such low self-esteem that they billed themselves “nerds” before anyone else did. The walls around them, that kept them from moving about, were built by their own hands. Whatever problems they had were “somebody else’s fault”. (Most likely, the cool kids supposedly “oppressing” them.)

The scorn you see toward the “more popular” bloggers today is a direct reflection of that illusion.

The “popular” people reach out and socialize. The “unpopular” people stay in their little shell, afraid to take a chance.

Everyone is dorky and insecure. Some are better at concealing it than others.
We’ll always be our own “worst enemies”.

We never left high school.
The school bell will never ring….

I’m still “The Outsider”, looking in.
Watching you all.

Eric Brooks

Musician, Programmer, Graphic Designer, Evil Clown - A thorn in the Internet's side since 1997 with no intention of stopping any time soon.

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14 thoughts on “Sociology 101: Why you’re an unpopular dork

  1. Aw, Thanks, Robyn.
    Damn. Somebody left me a link (Chloe, where are you?). It was a rant back in 1997 (a full two years before Blogger was invented) where somebody ranted about “the popular journals”. Called them the A-List and everything.

    Just goes to show you, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  2. Interesting insight into this. I liken this to around the time when i first got online, which will be five years ago this May. (Yes, in a way, that last line made me sound like an old fart. I know.)

    This reminds me a lot of a message board I used to frequent back then. People didn’t IM like they do now and nobody knew what a blog was. On this message board, I was considered to be one of the “in crowd”, so to speak, and yes, I got flamed and attacked because I was “popular”. This thing with the “A-List” and the “in crowd” or whatever label someone wants to use for them is just like that, only the forum has changed. It reminds me of that old MB because instead of it being a forum for a television show I happened to like, it became more than that to a lot of people and some of us even got close away from the board. I met my husband on that MB. There were flame wars and there were times when someone needed someone else’s shoulder for a bit. There were fun times and there was even a scandal on that board. There was the “cool kids” and there were the “outsiders”.

    Just like the world of blogging. And just like real life.

    Even though we log on our computers and we see words and images on our screens, we’re still dealing with people and human nature and it’s easy to forget that.

    I guess there really isn’t a point to this, but it’s more or less and observation.

  3. No. I see your point Kathy. It’s all about social skills. Whether it’s blogs, message boards, newsgroups, or even a high school cafeteria… people communicate on different levels, and their perceived place on the hierarchy has a lot to do with it.

    Though the internet puts us all on a level playing field, in some people’s minds they feel it isn’t. Some kids always bitched about “the popular kids”…unfortunately you can now hear every table in the cafeteria loud and clear.

    What Molly Ringw… uhm, I mean Robyn, has been experiencing lately is the backlash of her popularity by people who feel they’re on a “lower level”. They *put themselves* on that lower level. Nobody did it to them. It’s the same thing you experienced on the MB’s because of your popularity.

  4. Very well stated -e-, I’ll go with Robyn…Damn that was good.
    I guess I got all this out of my system in 1993 when I shut down my Wildcat BBS and loaned my computer to my friend to keep his BBS running. I even went as far as to move my best contributors entire posting section over to his BBS. Before then, I worked very hard to promote myself, getting on all the BBS lists I could,trying to have all the best stuff. My friend’s BBS became more popular just because he was who he was who he was. I guess what I learned then was that it doesn’t always have to be about me, sometimes it should be about us (the community), and if it becomes about him (her) it’s not necessarily because he is trying to make it that way.

  5. I always considered myself an outsider in HS too. I got along with everyone, heck, I played some of those ‘big’ roles that the popular people had but was always wierd enough to be not-quite-so popular and perfect. My social skills were always good but slightly askew… in other words… I was, and still am a wierdo. ha!

    I knew it was just a short matter of time before you’d give us your take on this topic. Well said!

    I was wondering, who is putting up a stink about all of this? What provoked this topic in the first place? Since you’re -e-, I know you could fill us in.

  6. And all very true. Sadly though, we don’t realize that until we’re out of high school. Good post e.

  7. “most likely, the cool kids supposedly “oppressing” them”

    OMG! I WISH I could have gone to your high school. My husband’s high school sounded very similar to the ones YOU describe. That there’s clique’s and any “unpopularity” or “oppression” is all in your head.

    Yup. There’s high schools like that – and there were high school’s like mine. Trust me – what I saw and endured in MY high school – wasn’t in my head. Things like A CROWD of people taunting you and calling you horrible things TO YOUR FACE throwing shit at you, for no other reason except that it made THEM feel better about THEMSELVES, is not just in your head.

    You know, it’s a longer story than I have time for or want to leave in a comment – but I plan on telling it soon at some point in my own space. I’m glad to hear that not everyone’s high school was like that…

  8. Ok, first what I am going to say doesn’t apply to bloggers. I agree that those who are considered popular bloggers are just as you said… nice to everyone and rather humble. But I think high schools must have changed between the time you went and I went… (I am assuming I am younger than you) At my school I was also someone who was friends with every “group”, inclduding popular kids, dorks and even the bad kids. At my school the popular kids knew dang well that they were popular and they took every adavadantage of that fact… There were groups of popular boys that sat and planned humiliating things to do to some of the unpopular students, there were even plans on how to get rid of popular students some of them were getting sick of…

    I think that the “popular kids” in blogging are so much better than the popular crowd in high school. All my encounters with those who are on this supposed “A-list” have been wonderful. The “popular kids” in the blog world are amazingly kind and always willing to visit a new person’s blog. I have never seen the type of outright vindictivness that I have seen in high school. I think the blogging world may resemble a high school in some ways… but a lot more mature!

  9. Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but I just woke up and the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.

    It’s the old “he/she gets more hits/more people read his/hers/they get more attention than I do” thing. It’s jealousy basically. Everyone wants attention and for some people, when they don’t get it, they lash out at whomever it is that is getting this attention they want.

    My high school was a lot like Deb’s high school and Jennifer’s husband’s high school. It was very cliquish and if you were “different” you were ridiculed. If you didn’t dress like they did or listened to the same music they did, they made fun of you. If you tried to get to know them, and you were “different”, you were (depending on the person) either ignored or openly ridiculed.

    But back to the subject at hand, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I think it’s rather sad that people feel the need to flame and ridiucle someone else because of this other person’s “popularity”.

  10. But I think high schools must have changed between the time you went and I went… (I am assuming I am younger than you)
    *Raises eyebrow @ Deb over the last line…*

    Oh no, Deb & Jennifer… I edited this down to a specific group of people I knew in school. They were honor students, attractive, head of this commitee/that commitee… Ones similar to the “popular bloggers” , just to drive in a point. Believe me, we had the assholes who terrorized people. I find it hard to believe that anyone *but* them saw themselves as popular. I’m sure it was more of a fear ingrained in everyone and they made it “seem” like everyone was okay with it. (or at least that’s the way I saw the bullies operate).

    Oh yeah, we had snobs that were legends in their own minds, Black militants, Cliques of catty bitches, Jesus freaks, “burnouts” stoned every second of the day… you name it.

    I see them (and more) represented in weblogs too. But that’s a rant for another day.

    The “nerds” I described (well we were ALL nerds, weren’t we?) were just very introvert, very bitter people that probably carried that bitterness the rest of their lives. It wasn’t specifically *every* nerd in school.

    That make any sense?

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