I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. And not just because I went to one of those gyms with the walls covered in mirrors. I read a post on Lucy’s Football called “On Wednesdays We Wear Pink.” This is in reference to the movie “Mean Girls”, in case you didn’t know. Last night, I watched the movie again. Ah, the good old days, before Lindsey Lohan’s life went off the deep end – along with her career.
Anyway, I think most people can identify with that movie, because a lot of people hated high school – unless they were one of the Plastics. “Plastics” is the term given to the popular people in the movie. At my school, we called them the Snobs. I went to the same public school from preschool through the 12th grade. The social hierarchy was set early on, and it was nearly impossible to move your way up. A few kids would move in and somehow fit into the cool group. But usually, you stayed right where you were.
I was far from the top of that pyramid, but I don’t think you could classify me any certain way. I wasn’t a goth, or a preppy (everyone at that school was a preppy as I realized later), or a nerd, or anything really. No one could classify me because no one really knew me. It’s hard to pin down someone who is invisible.
Once I hated the ones on top. They hadn’t really done anything to me, but I hated them anyway. And that’s the thing. The farther up you climb the ladder, the more fans you get. You also get more enemies. This hierarchy never really ends, though. It extends into all things: work, social life, and even blogging.
Back in September of 2012 I wrote a post for Canvas of the Minds called “The Cool Table.” In it, I reflected on my struggles in school, and how I had finally been invited in with the “cool” bloggers. I got to sit at their table! I was part of the group. It was a great feeling. But I didn’t realize that just like in high school, you can get ousted from these cool tables just as easily as you can join them.
I’m not blaming anyone here, except perhaps myself. You see, I was the one who put these people on the pedestals. I was the one who tried to gather blog bling, and followers, and likes, and comments anyway I knew how. You have to put yourself out there in order to gain a following. I did, once, and when I got a good response, I did so more and more. But after a while, blogging became as much about the awards (freshly press meeee, meeee!) and the teensy slice of “fame” than it did about the writing. It became about social capital. And after a while, I stepped back and realized I didn’t recognize myself.
There are hierarchies in the blogosphere. Some bloggers have thousands of followers. Some have even made it really big, appearing on national television or in recognized magazines or in their own books. Others are somewhere in the middle, not quite so famous, but with good followings. And then there are the newbies, desperate to fit in, but not sure how the culture works yet. They’ll learn, as I did.
I spent a lot of my life feeling like a victim, like everything just happened to me. Poor Alice. But I wasn’t only the victim. I could be a bully too. And I have a bad tendency to hop right into the middle of stuff that is frankly none of my business. Train wrecks are fun – unless you’re involved in the middle of it. I’ve seen feuds between bloggers. And I’ve had my part in feuds. Sometimes you see fights on blog posts. Other times it takes place on other platforms – email, Facebook, twitter, phone calls. There is backstabbing and nastiness out there, if you scratch the surface.
Yet it’s not all bad. You see, people are people, though they may look like a fish or a squirrel or a bad driver’s license photo in their avatars. Some bloggers may have more followers, but they are still just regular people. They go potty just like the rest of us. So while you should try not to put people down, neither should you raise them up too high. It can be uncomfortable and lonely up on that pedestal, or so I hear. And it’s a long way down at the end.
I am not a victim. And I’m going to try hard not to be an aggressor either. I just want to write a freaking blog. So I’ve created my own table. It’s not that cool, but it’s mine. If someone wants to join me, that’s great. There are puddin’ pops for everyone. If not, that’s also fine. There are many, many tables out there. You don’t have to fit yourself into one group. You don’t have to suck up just to be liked. Just make your own group. And for goodness sakes, just write.