Social Groups and the Animal Kingdom
Every teenage boy or girl, regardless of age, gender, religion, etc can recognize that there is a structure to high school. A “Kingdom, Phylum, Class,” if my 10th grade Bio class has taught me anything, is established upon entrance. To your left, the “Popular” kids, flat brimmed hats, $300 Ugg Boots, Junior Prom spray-on tans, the works.
To your right brawny jocks talking about the Raiders game last night. Two blocks over you have the AP Students, whose pale white complexions, obviously due to lack of sunlight from studying, contrast the “Gangsta” group, or the “Asians” or the “Weird-kids-who-every-one-forgets-goes-to-our-school.” It’s not like on the first day teachers came in for a conference and had a flow chart of who hangs out with who and why. We pick for ourselves, though I might have missed the ballot my first day of high school. Since the beginning of 9th grade I have been considered a “floater,” drifting from on group to another ever so whimsically.
But the concept is foreign to most others, though not to say that everyone is stuck in a group, but circles rarely intertwine. Visiting colleges, where I thought there would be more floaters a muck, I noticed a similar trend in cliques, whether it was the almost never culturally integrated group of international students, the African American groups, the jock groups, the nerdy groups, and so on (contrary to every college brochure I’ve ever read). But why do we subject ourselves to a single typecast, especially in a 21th century society in which the world is not so black and white. As a species, we do not like to break the mold per say. You do not normally see beavers teaming up with deer to discuss the dew on the morning grass.
We are comfortable being surrounded by people like ourselves and as the number of people in said circle rise, the minority falls leaving the strong majorities (jock, pop, insert your own schools group here) and a staggeringly low minorities. As such breaking into other social circles becomes nearly impossible unless you adapt to your surroundings to comfort the majority. So what’s the main problem? Well, for starters, you are creating a “Night of the Living Dead” situation in which a group of diverse characters are stuck surrounded by the undead. As such which seems like a better option, the massive army of similar undead zombies on your lawn, or your best friend stumbling to get the door locked. Most would say bite me now but that leads to my main point, you snuff out the diverse aspect of society in which a minority of students, the artists, writers, dreamers, must conform as a means of protecting from the society as a whole.
Flash forward ten or so years and welcome to a black and white society in which you are either Side A or Side B, Republican or Democrat, Soup or Salad. The high school hierarchy (essentially students teaching students) trains students to conform to one side, or die a floater (Which luckily I played my cards right and had a killer smile.) The failure to intermingling yourself into the soup of life, to stir the pot a little prevents you from not only keeping your identity but to experience all the diversity that can be out there.