Are You KIDDING Me With This???

Saturday, June 24, 2006

High School

Two things happened today that made me think of high school and all its attendant drama. First, I watched Mean Girls with Snark's Mistress. In addition to sporting some truly hilarious moments, it was such a brilliant study of the social caste system you will find in just about every high school across the country. God, how I hated that system. Of course, as a self-professed geek, I suppose it stands to reason that I wouldn't be fond of a structure that punishes you for having interests outside the norm. There was no way I was going to fit in. That deck was already stacked against me.

The sad thing is, we may all be out of high school, but that doesn't mean the rules have changed. Because the second thing that made me think of high school today was my stumbling upon a disagreement being played out over the web among some different bloggers. It occurred to me, as I was reading these vague outlines of who wronged whom and why and "You disgust me!" and "Oh YEAH? Well YOU disgust ME!" backing and forthing, that no matter how old we get, these cliques are still alive and well and the disagreements between them are being played out all over the online world.

I don't know why this didn't occur to me before. I mean, it makes sense. When I started looking for blogs to read, I started with subject matters that interested me. Pretty soon, my bookmark list was full of bloggers who all linked back and forth to each other. Every one of these bloggers knows the others, and they each comment on the others' blogs, offering support and solidarity, and many have become genuine friends. They share similar backgrounds, similar lifestyles and similar points of view. I had found a clique, in a sense, although the nicer word for it would be community.

It sounds great until you look a little further and start following links to links to links. Then you find out there are all sorts of these "communities" and some are nicer than others. Some are warm and welcoming and others are bitchy and judgmental. Some accept newcomers with open arms and some eviscerate you for having an individual (or different) point of view. Looking at my bookmarks now, they are very clearly divided, not just by subject matter, but also by the cliques to which they belong.

I can easily tell you who on my list would be open to a new person posting a comment and who would roll his eyes at the idea of anyone else having something to say that even slightly deviates from the party line. I can tell you whose posts will be from the heart and honest and whose will be smug and self-satisfied and superficial, at best. I can tell you who would have been my friends, had we met back in high school, 10+ years ago, and who wouldn't have given me the time of day. And it's not just the bloggers. Read some of the comments, and you find that not everyone is above leaving petty, anonymous barbs about how Blogger X is a big, fat, smelly skank. Seriously, people, have we not learned anything since leaving high school?

I don't really like the idea that we still seem to be living in this adolescent world, but on the other hand, it's nice that the same old rules still apply so I know what to expect when I'm trolling the internet. It helps me shortcut my surfing, because when I want to be treated like a grown-up; when I want to be able to converse with like-minded people, without feeling like the lowly nerd that all the popular kids make fun of at lunchtime; when I want to have real discussions about real issues and not feel like I'm constantly being judged or harassed or ridiculed? I know where to go.


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