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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

One hell of an essay on popularity, high school, and court politics.

Misrule breeds rebellion; this is not a new idea.




Truthfully, it's surprising that such an insightful essay took so long to be written to me. Perhaps it's because I'm one of those outside of the US but this essay simply said what any teen movie in the 80's captured with honesty, if a little too much relish.

I think you can also link the need for popularity with a culture that relies so much on celebrity for its own sake. As Lord of the Flies and Graham points out, high school tends to reflect society, but one missing certain key elements. If parents do no form a child's outlook in conjunction with that's child's intellectual bent, then they tend to pick up what's around them. The urge to please - the rewards inherent in the society for those who are most popular. Parents and society seldom see what someone did to rise to the top, the years of training behind a new singer or actor's popularity. It's instant pop, instant reward if you believe in tabloids.

In my country, popularity was based on smarts in the prestige schools. There are definitely schools where less admirable traits result in popularity. But our lives are given purpose in that, in every teenager's life, there are three major exams to be passed if you intend to eventually graduate with any hope of getting a job. All children know, therefore, that education has a purpose and a goal, and it's not just university (most can't afford it, so that's never the goal). Your life after school depends on learning now.

As a result, I never felt pressured or left out of anything except the ultra smart crowd. My main pressure, at home and at school, was to succeed. We had no illusions about the world outside being unsubstantial or somehow not related to us. We knew what we did now we would pay for later. So in my school, popular was good, but the best way to be popular was to be the smartest person in the class. That person got respect, envy and hierarchy. The nerds were either at the top or unconcerned in the middle. We had not rebels or freaks - what's the point of rebelling against the rest of your life?

Now, I watch my society slowly changing to match the parts of American high school life they watch every day, when parents who would have been home have to now go out and work instead of being around for their kids. We're trying to adjust to a new world, and it's taking it's toll on the good parts of the society we had before. Commercialism, the American gift to the world, has made us much more materialistic than before and we have to deal with that or be crushed under the weight of our own success.

But there's hope for us as long as kids continue to understand that high school ends and nothing you do there can hurt you afterward but your academic performance. And perhaps, despite all that other nations could learn from the US, that's one thing we could teach you.