What does hearing the word “popular” do to you? It stirs up a lot of emotions in many people, ranging from anger and sadness to fondnesss and happiness. But what does popularity mean? Is there a price to pay to “be popular”? It is not a trait any of us were born with, and it is not a characteristic anyone can assign to themselves. One must be given the status of popular.
I did a presentation this weekend called “The Price of Popularity”. While there were a lot of parents present wanting to know where their child fit in to all the social cliques at school, it also brings up a lot of memories of how we saw ourselves in elementary, middle and high school. Watching your child go through something so different than what you experienced is confusing and perplexing… and watching your child repeat your childhood can be heartbreaking.
It is inappropriate to discuss popularity without discussing bullying, because both situations require power. Kids bully and it is wrong. It is painful. It can cause so much more damage than the bully ever imagined he/she was causing. And what about adult bullies? There is a book that was reviewed recently by Kelly Valen called “The Twisted Sisterhood” and all the ways women are bullies to their closest allies. There are also more and more articles about adult bullying, whether by a boss or supervisor, or by our own peers. Popular or not, being bullied angers, confuses and hurts at any age.
Whether a child or adult, a parent or a friend, everyone wants to know the right answers. How do I become as liked and respected as I want to be? How can I successfully stop someone who is making my life miserable? What do I say? What do I do? The answers are never clear-cut and of course vary depending on the person and the situation. But they are answers we should continue to seek.