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Why Nerds Are Unpopular

By gralfus ·
http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

I thought this article was well written and hit many of the issues common to life in public school. My favorite quote from the article is "Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits."

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Words are not enough

by Ldyosng In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

to describe how miserable I was in school. From grade 2 through grade 12. I was smart, skinny, underdevloped, freckel-faced with no social skills and poorly fitting, out-of-style, often home-made clothes. Oh, and I was pideon-toed and wore corrective shoes. I was hit, called names, had chairs pulled out from under me, taunted, teased, and shunned. Reading and learning were my refuge. It was the one thing I could get right and be validated for - via report card. School sucked. Information doesn't care what I look like.

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Empathy

by gralfus In reply to Words are not enough

Here is a quote that expresses the heart of what you went through:

"In my childhood, I never fit in with cliques at school. I was not sports oriented, so I didn?t fit in with the jocks. I was not bubbly and cute, so I didn?t fit in with the social butterflies. My family didn?t have wealth, so I didn?t fit in with the rich kids. I wasn?t a druggie or into heavy metal music, so I didn?t fit in there either. There always seemed to be a couple of kids I could play with, who also didn?t fit in. But another aspect of not fitting in was that those who *did* fit in behaved like they came from the novel ?Lord of the Flies? (appropriately named after the devil himself). Shunning, insults, hatred, sneering, vileness, intimidation, and violence were commonly directed at me. Remember, I had not done anything to them, I just didn?t fit in. I was quiet and shy, and that made me an easy target in the Darwinian pecking order. My classmates would go out of their way to make my life **** because they enjoyed doing so.

I could never understand why they wanted to do this to me. I just wanted to be left alone, or to play in peace without having a bunch of trolls harassing me over nothing. ?Where do you get your clothes ? Goodwill?? ?Why don?t you ever talk?? ?Hey zitface, why don?t you take a shower?? ?Ugh, he shooting pus at me!? Phone calls from girls being prompted by their jock boyfriends. I won?t go into what they said. Suffice to say, each day brought new levels of vileness and cruelty. Apparently the kids who murdered their classmates at Columbine went through similar harassment; they just chose to react differently than I did. I became a believer in Jesus around 7th grade, but was not going to any church. I took him at his word when he said ?turn the other cheek?, so I did. Occasionally, the trolls would ask me why I didn?t fight back. I would usually just smile at them, because they should already know why. They?d heard the words of Jesus before. Besides, that wasn?t really the right question. The right question was, ?Why are you harassing me in the first place??

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I thought Columbine was a wake-up call ...

by Too Old For IT In reply to Empathy

... to school administrators across the United States to curb the emotional violence committed by the jock-ocracy ...

(never mind)

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HA!

by jmgarvin In reply to I thought Columbine was a ...

Na, the rich kids and jocks will continue to get a free pass through high school, and then become nothings in "real" life.

It seems the nerds rule the world now, for without our technology, there would be no world.

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Similar experiences myself.

by sjohnson175 In reply to Empathy

But I'm not so kind to the Columbine killers. They're no better than the persecuters because they failed to cope.

My mom's advice of "the best revenge is living well" stuck and has paid dividends.

But I would contend that the same crap from high school described in the article continues in a more distilled form in adult life (think PHB). Particularly in the South and on internet forums.

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Columbine Martyrs

by Too Old For IT In reply to Empathy

There, but for the grace of God (and the opinion at the time that my tormenters were not woth the price of even cheap ammo) ...

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No sense of moderation

by DMambo In reply to Empathy

Today, it seems, there isn't the sense that things might get taken too far. As I said earlier, I sometimes picked on other kids, but it wasn't a day-in, day-out practice, and I did not see that unrelenting bullying go on with others, either. By the same token, when those being picked on were able to extract some measure of revenge, it wasn't extreme. Maybe soaping car windows or posting embarassing material on a locker. Neither case was carried to the extreme. This was in a "typical" middle-class suburb of a medium size city.

Have things changed that much over the past 30 years? Did we have more perspective back then, even at a young age? Or am I being naive?

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A bully sees it as a sport now

by jmgarvin In reply to No sense of moderation

Those that are seen as "weak" or "less" are picked on.

I went to a rich kid school and I wasn't a rich kid. I was a smart, easy going, idealist that found out the rich kids caught the breaks while I was always being shoved into lesser courses because the courses I should have been taking were "full." Guess who got first pick?

The bullies were the worst because they never had any issues. I was jumped on the way to work one day and I was in a fight with 3 bullies. I really hurt one of the bullies during the fight and *I* was pulled for beating them up!! What is that?

My point? The administration doesn't punish those that need to be punished, so they keep on taking it one step futher. Eventually someone will get hurt. What happened is that the kids at Columbine were tortured by the bullies. The big question still hasn't been asked: "Why were the bullies allowed to act in such a manner?"

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Egos

by ozi Eagle In reply to A bully sees it as a spor ...

Hi,

By reprimanding kids, or, heaven forbid, punishing them, we might bruise their overinflated egos. Mustn't do this!!!

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I know what you mean.

by stress junkie In reply to A bully sees it as a spor ...

I didn't have any trouble in high school. The student body were all from mostly blue collar families and I think that we were all treated fairly by the school staff. Everyone got along. Even the freaks and the jocks were buddies.

On the other hand I lived in a generally affluent town, although my family wasn't affluent. One year I was teaching 6th grade Sunday school. One day near the end of the year some of the boys were causing a lot of noise. I could see which one was starting the whole thing. I went over to him, picked him up, and carried him to the front of the class where he sat in a seat facing away from everyone. The next year the church didn't require my services teaching Sunday school. I think that the two things are related.

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