Ben’s View: Popularity Explained

by Ben J.

To begin, there is really no point in denying it. Even the most rational intelligent outcast cannot truthfully say that they’ve never wanted to be “Cool”. But exactly what does “Cool” mean?

Judging from my own experience, popularity is generally determined by such things as “What clothes does said person wear?”, “What are their tastes in art, music, etc.?”, or even “Do they disobey rules, swear, ignore teachers or otherwise make an idiot of themselves?”

And, for whatever reason, this poorly disguised bandwagon appeals to almost all of the children taking residence in the walls of our magnificent school. Easily 75% of the students follow through with this, selling their beliefs for free, changing their opinions to fit those of the general public, and thus make themselves average.

For this is cool.

Nevertheless, one has to wonder about this. Those of us who overcome the natural instinct to be part of the largest group tend to be unmercifully shunned, sworn at and otherwise made quite uncomfortable. Group psychology IS inbred in popular culture, but nonetheless should be questioned.

Personally, I believe that to be part of the largest group, that of the “Cool” kids, is somewhat akin to shouting to the world “I am so very starved for attention, and wish to be publicly acknowledged SO much, I am willing to sacrifice my every sacred piece of culture that I uphold and change my every opinion just to be part of a group! Yeah!” This is not an intelligent thing to say.

And no matter how unpopular being intelligent is, I can promise you that paying attention to your teachers is worth it. But I am not here to discuss why school is a wonderful place, why we should stay in school, etc. Rather, I am here to, as the title suggests, explain popularity. Now, however much I would like to take several pages to fully explain group psychology, I shall restrain myself for the time being. Instead I will use the remaining space in this article to provide a mundane, simplistic and otherwise easy to understand explanation of why this happens (with as little space as possible devoted to neuron-transmission).

Sociology mainly consists of the study of social structure, social inequality, and other fascinating subjects. But for the most part, this particular branch can be summarized to this paragraph: It is fact that humans, an extremely social species, will tend to gravitate to the largest and most powerful group, for example the nation with the largest army, the group with the most members, etc. As such, even at a young age, humans are subjected to extreme pressure to join whatever group they deem to be the most adequate, typically the ones with the most members, strongest members, etc.

As more people join, there is greater pressure for all others to join, until almost every person is part of the same group, which then disbands for lack of an opponent. At this point, people begin to form more groups, ultimately repeating the same process for an indefinite period of time. As you can see, this entire process is futile, time consuming, and taxing upon those who wish to express their own opinions.

So I urge you to resist natural instinct, and truly express yourself. Don’t worry about what others will think, worry about your own opinion. In short, just be yourself. People should like you for what you are, not what you pretend to be.

Leave the group of ‘cool’ people who encourage a thought with which you disagree. Rather, act like yourself, and hope that people will enjoy your company even if you don’t agree with everything they say. Originality, though sometimes frowned upon by large groups, can be a blessing beyond your dreams.

Thank You.

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5 thoughts on “Ben’s View: Popularity Explained

  1. Very good job Ben, very good job. I especially liked how accurately you described the natural human attraction to power and size.

  2. I also like how you accurately describe what makes somebody “cool” or “popular” as it pertains to our own Jefferson Middle School.

  3. Hmmmm
    I don’t really think in the 8th grade personally that there is a certian “popular” group, but i do think that most of the people in my grade just go along with the majority of the people’s beliefs, if that makes any sense. For example, a few people were saying they disliked Bush, and then a ton of other people immediatly joined in on agreeing, but when questioned why, had absolutely no reason…
    thats what really bugs me

  4. Pingback: Ben’s World: The Death of a Book « The Jeffersonian

  5. Thank you very much Ben for this enlightening article. Perhaps it will make some people not strive to be popular. I met someone1 and when another one of my friends2 was talking about George W. Bush and this person 1 said a string of extremely descriptive profanity.I asked him why and all he could say, and to the best description of why he felt that way was “Bush just sucks”

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