(This essay was edited by removing students name for internet privacy reasons)
Thank you to Mr. Heck for these.
Popularity is an idea that can make or break a person, affecting their friends and identity. It’s often considered an uncomfortable topic, due to connotations of both insults and compliments. All sides of the spectrum have a stake in this.
For some, popularity seems to be a big factor in their life-- when asked about social groups in the grade, they assumed that meant popularity, and quickly spoke out about their lack of it.
However, others believe popularity doesn’t exist at this grade and age-- or that it doesn’t affect them, at least. One student, an eighth grade student in the school, holds this opinion. He believes that popularity exists, but has never been a part of his life, saying that he has rarely heard the word.
Yet another group involved is those commonly considered popular, by others and, however reluctantly, by themselves. Such students include students “A” and “B”, who, when interviewed, had similar but differing takes on the subject.
“A” finds herself and her friends “popular”, but clearly struggled with the statement. “I don’t want to seem arrogant,” she says. But a majority of students asked named her as most popular as well.
“B” found it much harder to address the fact that he is categorized as “cool” or “popular” by many peers. After a while, he concluded that he was cool, but stated that it is hard to see yourself as popular, always being taught to focus on liking others, not as much yourself.
Another part of the topic is its effect, and whether it’s positive or negative. There is a difference of opinion on the topic between different social groups.
When asked about the subject, ”B” said, “I don’t think (popularity) is good, because it leads to people striving to be like other people and fit into a mold, which isn’t right. Kids shouldn’t feel pressured to fit an image. But it’s just a part of growing up. It’s inevitable.” This is a recurring theme in parts or in its entirety.
Student “C” also believes that popularity is not beneficial. “I think that popularity and stereotypes are connected, and I think that sometimes people misjudge and can feel bad about themselves because of popularity.”
But those who did not view themselves as popular felt similarly. Student “D” thinks that popularity causes superficiality, and does not consider themself “popular”.
There are other instances in which “B”’s views were repeated. “D”also believes that popularity is always there, in the back of the mind. Student A has a similar opinion, but it comes with another part-- that popularity exists, but is negative.
On “B”s first point, student “E” believes that popular kids can be, and are, “mean”. This goes back to “A’’s original point-- that popularity and stereotypes are connected.
Student B, on the subject, says that, “Being cool is supposedly a good thing, right? But when people use it and single me out as a good thing, right? But when people use it and single me out as a cool kid, it seems almost like an insult.”
Besides being “mean”, there are other stereotypes involved in popularity. Another student believes that those deemed popular don’t acknowledge it-- they just believe they’re normal.
Others mentioned stereotypes that popular people are exclusive or that being popular has to do with certain activities, such as sports. Student “F” holds the opinion that the groups that do sports are considered popular because they get a lot of positive attention.
She, along with “G” and “H”, believe that groups form primarily because of similar interests (sports, games, books, music, etc.). Some students, like “H”, think this is a good thing because people are then happy with their friends. But others, like “Student I”, believe that social groups bring trouble, because it steers people away from being friends with who they want to because groups are already established.
Many have said that as the years increase, popularity becomes less relevant. However, others have shown that it still affects them. At this point, students have proved that the idea of popularity exists, but only agree on that. It affects everybody differently, in a wide range of ways, both positive and negative.