There’s been a lot of talk both on and off orkut about ‘popular kids’ and ‘cliques’ and remarks that it’s like high-school. None of which made much sense to me.
I’ve been vaguely puzzling over this.
And then it dawned on me, not unlike when you wander the house looking for your sunglasses and car-keys to find the glasses are on your head and the keys in your hand.
I never went to high school.
Well, ok, I did. But not like that.
I went to a small school. What we called an ‘Alternative school’ in the 70′s, and what you’d probably hear described today as a ‘free school’ or a ‘hippy school’. My parents were not hippies, they were intellectual educators; a little young to be beatniks, a little old to be hippies, but they fit in with some of the ideas and educational philosophies of the era.
So we didn’t have popular kids or outcasts. There are not enough of us. We were a small crew of mostly the weird; we were long haired kids in boots and down parkas and army jackets. We wore weird hats. We smoked too much pot and listened to weird music and played Risk all night. The kid least liked, the one with no social skills who smelled like something had died in his coat, was still our buddy, and the leaders one day would be the side kicks another. At most this was twenty or thirty kids, at the smallest it was maybe six, ranging in ages over about fours grades. We hung out, hiked, went to classes (sometimes, though maybe not enough), played guitars and listened to music. We did this in a gang. Sure there were sub-groups, but they formed and broke up ad-hoc. Yeah, we fought. yeah people got feelings hurt. But nobody was really in or out, we were more like a tribe.
So when someone says “like high school” I don’t get exactly what you might get. I get – we’re all friends, we’re hanging out, we’re getting’ high and listening to pink floyd and maybe playing Gettysburg. We’re entertaining each other and having a good time.
Sometimes in high-school I was the ring leader. Sometimes I was the brooding loner. I went back and forth. But it went back and forth as I changed, not as the other kids rejected me.
So my experience was a little different. This is also why the phrase ‘popular kids’, which I’ve heard some of my very good friends toss around as a derogatory, mystified me in this context. This is why I was scratching my head and thinking “…and that’s a — bad thing?”
It’s not that I don’t know. Most of my friends went to regular school. Most of my friend’s kids go to regular school, I’ve read about the experience, it pervades popular culture. But it’s not in deep the way one’s own experience is. The outsider, the ostracized, the miserable alienated child; I acted that way because I was a sullen little fucker with a chip on my shoulder, but I wasn’t really that way.
So maybe that’s part of why my experience in a social forum like Orkut is so different than some others. Maybe it is like high school, but that means a very different thing. That means, to me, hanging out and goofing around and making each other laugh, taking turns being funny or stupid. yeah, there are kids who are lame, but you just sort of gamely let them have a turn and pat them on the back, they’re part of the gang. They’re not outsiders, we’re not insiders. We’re all just — us.
So maybe orkut is high school after all. But it’s not your high school. Not for me. It’s my high school. My high school, which was called ‘Daybreak Institute’, and which didn’t really so much have rules, and which let us do things our way as long as we were all smiling and having a good time. So maybe that’s why your orkut isn’t the same as my orkut.