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She likes Death Cab and Spinal Tap and comic books and reading. This is quite important, since many verbal bullies first learn to dominate others with words by listening to their parents, and how they interact with others. They create a new world among themselves, teenage suicide essay, and standing in this teenage suicide essay is what matters, not standing in their family. Even the newest apprentice could be made to carry messages or sweep the workshop. Males noted that teenage birth rates closely mapped poverty rates in California: We were already thinking about the kind of things that matter in the real world, instead of spending all our time playing an exacting but mostly pointless game like the others.



February When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of about the same popularity. We graded them from A to E. A tables were full of football players and cheerleaders and so on. We were not being especially candid to grade ourselves as D. It would have taken a deliberate lie to say otherwise.

Everyone in the school knew exactly how popular everyone else was, including us. My stock gradually rose during high school. Puberty finally arrived; I became a decent soccer player; I started a scandalous underground newspaper.

I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: Being smart seems to make you unpopular. To someone in school now, that may seem an odd question to ask. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be any other way. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult.

The key to this mystery is to rephrase the question slightly. One argument says that this would be impossible, that the smart kids are unpopular because the other kids envy them for being smart, and nothing they could do could make them popular. If the other kids in junior high school envied me, they did a great job of concealing it.

And in any case, if being smart were really an enviable quality, the girls would have broken ranks. The guys that guys envy, girls like. All other things being equal, they would have preferred to be on the smart side of average rather than the dumb side, but intelligence counted far less than, say, physical appearance, charisma, or athletic ability. So if intelligence in itself is not a factor in popularity, why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him.

Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Of course I wanted to be popular. There was something else I wanted more: Not simply to do well in school, though that counted for something, but to design beautiful rockets, or to write well, or to understand how to program computers. In general, to make great things. At the time I never tried to separate my wants and weigh them against one another. If I had, I would have seen that being smart was more important.

To them the thought of average intelligence is unbearable. But most kids would take that deal. For half of them, it would be a step up. And that, I think, is the root of the problem. Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school.

Alberti, arguably the archetype of the Renaissance Man, writes that "no art, however minor, demands less than total dedication if you want to excel in it. Navy SEALs and neurosurgery residents seem slackers by comparison.

They occasionally take vacations; some even have hobbies. An American teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, days a year. Some of them truly are little Machiavellis, but what I really mean here is that teenagers are always on duty as conformists. For example, teenage kids pay a great deal of attention to clothes. They dress to look good. To the other kids. And so every effort they make to do things "right" is also, consciously or not, an effort to be more popular.

For example, most people seem to consider the ability to draw as some kind of innate quality, like being tall. The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties. Other players who can focus their whole attention on the game beat them effortlessly, and wonder why they seem so incapable.

Even if nerds cared as much as other kids about popularity, being popular would be more work for them. The popular kids learned to be popular, and to want to be popular, the same way the nerds learned to be smart, and to want to be smart: While the nerds were being trained to get the right answers, the popular kids were being trained to please. But "enough" depends on where you are.

Few smart kids can spare the attention that popularity requires. Life at that age revolves far more around popularity than before or after. Around the age of eleven, though, kids seem to start treating their family as a day job. They create a new world among themselves, and standing in this world is what matters, not standing in their family.

Indeed, being in trouble in their family can win them points in the world they care about. The problem is, the world these kids create for themselves is at first a very crude one. If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies.

Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world.

This was too subtle for me. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid. Nerds would find their unpopularity more bearable if it merely caused them to be ignored. Unfortunately, to be unpopular in school is to be actively persecuted. Once again, anyone currently in school might think this a strange question to ask.

How could things be any other way? But they could be. Why do teenage kids do it? Partly because teenagers are still half children, and many children are just intrinsically cruel. Some torture nerds for the same reason they pull the legs off spiders. Before you develop a conscience, torture is amusing. Another reason kids persecute nerds is to make themselves feel better. When you tread water, you lift yourself up by pushing water down.

Likewise, in any social hierarchy, people unsure of their own position will try to emphasize it by maltreating those they think rank below. Popularity is only partially about individual attractiveness. To become more popular, you need to be constantly doing things that bring you close to other popular people, and nothing brings people closer than a common enemy. By singling out and persecuting a nerd, a group of kids from higher in the hierarchy create bonds between themselves.

Attacking an outsider makes them all insiders. This is why the worst cases of bullying happen with groups. The group of kids who band together to pick on you are doing the same thing, and for the same reason, as a bunch of guys who get together to go hunting.

They just need something to chase. Most of the persecution comes from kids lower down, the nervous middle classes. The trouble is, there are a lot of them. The distribution of popularity is not a pyramid, but tapers at the bottom like a pear. The least popular group is quite small. I believe we were the only D table in our cafeteria map. So there are more people who want to pick on nerds than there are nerds.

As well as gaining points by distancing oneself from unpopular kids, one loses points by being close to them. A woman I know says that in high school she liked nerds, but was afraid to be seen talking to them because the other girls would make fun of her. Unpopularity is a communicable disease; kids too nice to pick on nerds will still ostracize them in self-defense.

Their other interests leave them little attention to spare for popularity, and since popularity resembles a zero-sum game, this in turn makes them targets for the whole school. And the strange thing is, this nightmare scenario happens without any conscious malice, merely because of the shape of the situation.

For me the worst stretch was junior high, when kid culture was new and harsh, and the specialization that would later gradually separate the smarter kids had barely begun. In our school it was eighth grade, which was ages twelve and thirteen for me.



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Total 1 comments.
#1 27.08.2018 00:34 Bbmxjack:
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