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Archive for May, 2012

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Social Teflon for Teens, Part II: Spin the Wheel

Lucky kids’ popularity cycle

Well, that was kind of rude. I tell you to go feel good about your thing and then I ditch, without a word on how to do it. SOR-ry (to the tune of the doorbell, DING-dong). Well, chopchop. Let’s get on that.

First, some background info on feeling good about yourself. If you’re lucky, you grew up in this, like, recycling symbol of affirmation, above. Go. Read. Now.

Not so lucky? Me either. My recycling symbol was more like this:

1) You’re (choose as many as apply) ignored/resented/abused/belittled at home

2) Your day-1 self-perception: “I’m unlikable”

3) Because you’ve never known “being liked,” you put off a “Please like me, but I know you won’t” vibe

4) Your belief that people can’t like you tells the world, “This kid’s a weird one”

5) You have no friends, which reinforces…

6) Your self-perception: “I’m unlikable”

The problem with recycling symbols? They have no end. Each step in the cycle makes the next one happen, every time. So unless you got Brady Bunch lovin’ as a tiny tot, you’re socially screwed, right? Forever alone. SOR-wait! Stop right there!

There are ways to break the recycling symbol. Jerkoffs toss their 98%-post-consumer-waste water bottles out car windows every day, don’t they? They do. And if jerkoffs can break the chain, so can you. All you’ve got to do is reset your spin cycle.

The start of the loop was “We don’t like you,” and that thing kept on spinning. But jam a wrench in there–a message that contradicts the spin–and it snaps to a halt. It might not be easy; it might not be cute. But you can turn that machinery around.

Okay loudmouth, you’re thinking. It’s impossible to make people like me, and to solve that problem, I’ve gotta…make people like me?

Yeah, I guess I am saying that. And yeah, I know it sounds like psychobabble. But–and here’s where I don my top hat and tails, and jump up on my box–I know it can be done. Because–wait for it–I did it myself! And you can too, for the low, low price of…$0.

Just stick with me. Come back next time, with your mind open and your cynicism in check. We’ll get ya there, you and me. We’ll get ya to the top of the social heap in no time. Just you wait.

 

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Social Teflon for High Schoolers, Part I

He was a high school loser, never made it with a lady.

Those kids who have nobody to sit with at lunch. They still exist, right? Psyche. I know they do, ‘cuz I see their posts on Reddit. I always give them the same 3 lines of advice, but there’s a motherload where that came from. So here ya go. Part I in a series on how to shake your status as a high school loser.

So, this one kid? Frankenstein in Coke bottle glasses. Complete with the shuffle. And every other kid in the room has a cool haircut, if you know what I mean. Before class even starts I’m cringing for the Frankenstein, knowing that he’s the puck, and the cool guys are the sticks.

The computers are in a horseshoe around the room. All the other guys get on them and start their projects, but not weird Frank. Frank wanders around, talking to himself as the rest of the guys talk to each other. Every once in a while Frank stops, leaning in and watching over someone’s shoulder.

I encourage him to find his own computer, because some verbal sniper is about to lay him flat. How long are they going to tolerate the eyeballs on their work, the mumble in their ears? But Frank comes back with an ironclad excuse: “The program’s still loading.” And because I’m the anti-control freak, I can’t command him, “SIT DOWN.” He’s not doing anything wrong. Plus, the worst thing I could do to the kid would be to call more attention to him. So I sit. And I watch. And I learn.

I’m shocked to see that the cool guys don’t mind Frank. I’m extra-shocked that Frank doesn’t mind himself. And that’s his golden ticket.

It dawns on me like this. When I ask Frank to find a computer, he doesn’t freeze. He doesn’t look down. He doesn’t do any of the terrified-kid-in-the-spotlight moves. Instead, he keeps his eyes on some kid’s computer. As in, “I’m fine with what I’m doing. Got nothing to hide.”

Then, when that kid turns to the guy next to him, Frank doesn’t move along, knowing he’s about to get ragged on. And therefore, he’s right. He’s not about to get ragged on. The kid asks the guy how to graph a rhomboid or something.

All through the class, Frank does stuff that gets other kids ridiculed. And all through class, his classmates don’t raise an eyebrow. Because Frank is cool with his weirdness. That shit is armor.

You know the fat kid who’s picked on for being fat? He’s putting out a Damn, I’m fat vibe. Know that other fat kid who’s wicked funny, who everyone wants to be friends with? He’s putting out a Damn, I’m funny! vibe. That’s the only diff.

So here it is, a nice little vitamin pill. The prescription for losing your high school loserdom. Feel fine about your thing. Weird? Fat? Dorky? Loud? Awesome. Fuck what anyone else thinks, in the friendliest way possible. They’ve got their own thing, you’ve got yours. Both are cool. Believe that, and you’re teflon.