Remember cliques from high school? I went to a high school in the South, complete with fraternities and sororities (really!) to get us thoroughly indoctrinated to the cult of popularity before we tripped off to Duke and UNC (for the boys) or Sweetbriar and U Va. (for the girls).
What puzzled me most about teenage cliques was not the self-referential and self-congratulatory behavior of the BMOCs and Queen Bees. No, what confused me, trouble-making Yankee girl that I am, was the behavior of the average kids. Instead of creating groups of their own, they spent all their time watching and talking about the cool kids the way you’d obsess over your favorite TV show characters.
Get a life! I wanted to say. As you might imagine, I hung out with the geeks, who were a default group rather than a clique. All this pre-dated the era of Dungeons and Dragons, so I think we spent our time playing in Zappa-esque folk-rock combos, making reel-to-reel tapes and videos (video cameras were thirty-pound items worth thousands, and had to be borrowed from the school), putting out an alternative newspaper, and baking brownies.
What’s got me thinking about cliques now?
Search engine optimization, that’s what.
If this blog links to a snarky post from one of the trendy blogorati, my own blog ratings and traffic go up. Ooh, it’s like I’m almost in their clique!
But if I link to something interesting from a normal blogger who doesn’t use self-promotional SEO tactics on his or her blog, what do I get? Bubkes.
My sophomore year in high school, egged on by a close friend who desperately wanted to be popular, I went out for the cheerleading squad and, to everyone’s astonishment, made it. Then I spent a year in a surrealistic environment that was—with the exception of a couple of hours each week during which I bounced around flailing enormous crepe pom-pons and screaming myself hoarse—rathering boring and puzzling. And junior year I went back to the Zappa-esque rock band and baking brownies.
Blogging has made the transition from being a geek activity to being a mainstream one, and I can’t say that I fit in with the digital cheerleaders. Still, it’s nice once in a while to get out there with the pom-pons.