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Cliques And Outsiders Essay, Research Paper
Cliques and Outsiders
Cliques and Outsiders The Emotional Trauma That is Fitting In Be afraid. Be very afraid. Wipe that
goofy smile off your face. Whether you know it or not, that clawing, itching, quaking sensation
seething beneath your skin is the feeling churning inside you every time someone of a superior clique
comes rumbling down the halls, a contemptuous sneer playing on his lips. But whatever you do,
keep that fear under wraps. You do not need to be shoved into your locker or called derisive
names again. Cliques in high schools are a microcosm of a society dominated by hierarchies. Look
around. It is hard to find one fully united school, devoid of the intricate social castes. In the wake of
the now-infamous Columbine High School shooting, society was mercilessly slapped with the harsh
effects of cliques, and temporarily forced to reexamine the complicated social hierarchy that
confronts students during their most formative years. As much of a tragedy as it was, few fail to see
and perhaps, understand it from the point of view of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the two
suspects. Yes, they do have names. They were not entirely the vile, violent, inhuman maniacs that
society has carelessly made them out to be. They were real people. Real people repeatedly called
outcasts in their school, a community of cliques. There are few schools that deviate from the social
moldings of Columbine High School. Columbine is Anyschool in Anytown. This is what Cliques
think of Geeks, Nerds, and Dorks. Just take a look at the clique-infested waters of my school.
Except no one seems to want to admit the existence of these sharp-toothed tribes. Like every other
school, the jocks and cool people are at the top of the food chain – the same stuck-ups who believe
that they are better than everyone else and ironically, the same people that some of us put on a
pedestal and believe that they are worthy of our admiration and emulation. Excuse me while I throw
up. Everybody else is tossed into a stuffy, degrading barrel, miles below this prestigious league.
There are the geeks, nerds and dorks. Pretty much self-explanatory – the teachers’ pets, typically
bespectacled kids who somehow traded in their fashion sense for a bucket of intelligence. There are
the visible minorities who cling fearfully to one another and toss around words you believe to be
insults directed to you in foreign languages. The Pain and Suffering of Not Having Popular Friends is
another object cliques focus on. The lines start blurring for a small percentage of the high school
population. Those swimming in this minority are classified as “whatever”. Seemingly faceless,
personality-less, displaced people teetering at the fringes of various classifications…. I happen to fall
under the latter category. And oh look, my three good friends all sit under the same heading too.
What a coincidence. Yet, I honestly think that the four of us have very little in common. I am the
calm, Caucasian, guy obsessed with trying to make friends; one of my friends is the mature, spiritual,
rational, philosophical and analytical one; yet another thrives on being physical and tomboyish
without knowing it; and another is…. well, we have yet to figure him out but he never fails to surprise
us sometimes. In any case, we do not belong. We are the outcasts of the school, bonded by the
only fact that we are all regarded as different from the segregated clans of so-called normality. The
omnipresent high school cliques are spawned in the labyrinths of a twisted school system. One in
which frivolous values of school spirit and appearances are grossly exalted while the traditional
values of free, nonconformist thinking and curiosity are severely ridiculed. In a sense, the lower
circles of segregation may have formed in response to athletes enforcing the social code in most high
schools. Yet the only thing that all cliques have in common is the way they define high school and
provide a framework for friendship (true or otherwise), prom dates and a consistently-packed
weekend social calendar. Cliques were born with the invention of high school over sixty years ago.
Perhaps as a result, we have grown up with and become so accustomed to the social apartheid that
we have even embraced its power to deny people of an ideal childhood. Some cliques think
popularity is genetic. As in any other school, fitting in or being popular is really a gift. You have to
be blessed with strikingly good looks that will cause massive salivation in the opposite sex or have
the muscle mass to indulge yourself in team sports in order to start wearing the “jock” label. These
traits supposedly shower a sense of elitism upon those who possess them, instantly making them
people with the most clout and giving them the authority to revile those who are different as geeks,
freaks, punks or other unmentionable expletives. The lucky ones slip through the cracks and go
unnoticed (although rarely); the unfortunate are hopelessly harassed, humiliated and assaulted both
literally and socially. In the tyranny of normality, to be different is dangerous. It means succumbing
to belittling and being constantly unhappy. Social cruelty and alienation has set in and high school is
a seemingly-never-ending nightmare of exclusion, cruelty, warped values and anger. I believe school
systems should eliminate popular cliques. No one, except those who endure it insufferably, believes
that peer abuse is real or damaging. To most, including those guilty of torment, the brutal and savage
emotional torture and terror that the elite rain upon the nonconformists merely appears to be part of
a harmless game where no one gets hurt. These same people do not see the deep emotional
markings they have left behind in psychologically fragile adolescents. Years down the road, the
wounds may have closed but the scars remain as a painful memory that high school does not always
give you the best years of your life. Let it be known that brutish savagery is irreversible. Ignorant
school authorities remain ghastly indifferent to the pitless process of clique-formation. In fact, they
do anything but alleviate the problem. They augment it by drizzling their preference onto the
arrogantly elite who sublimely sail over the cowering nerds. Such prejudice merely fuels the
already-intense animosity between cliques or between cliques and outcasts. The non-conventional
deserve freedom from abuse and cruelty as well as the right to attend school in safety. School
authorities have an obligation to establish dignity for everyone, not just the popular and conventional.
Discrimination against nonconformists is like racism and other forms of bigotry; so why is it not
being tackled the same way but sliding away scot-free instead, denying high school of an egalitarian
culture? This is why cliques accept no outsiders. Simply belonging to any of the fabulous diversity of
cliques in schools instantly quashes all individuality, trading it in for power and pride as a group.
Suddenly, all differences are concealed and everyone [in a clique] looks alike. You cannot tell Tom
from Dick or Harry. The suppression does not stop there. Outside social interaction disappears with
such exclusive membership, as members limit their social interaction to, well, other members. Who
else would understand the big zit that erupted on your forehead this morning? Or who else could
you talk about skateboarding with? Definitely not the kid over there with the taped-up glasses.
Everyone else outside the clique is met with a chilly reception. A stare that is frigid enough to freeze
corpses in a mortuary. Such close-mindedness is widespread among the various gangs. The
alienation of different people has begun. In concealing individuality and practically every other flag of
identity, the maze of cliques may allow troubled kids who have fallen in between the cracks, to
mask their loneliness and dissatisfaction. On the same note, these kids who feel that wave of
powerlessness and rejection from social circles are more apt to do the horrible things that humanity
drops its mouth open at. Driven to the point of insanity after being mercilessly taunted, humiliated,
harassed and degraded every single day, it takes just one more little spark to set it all off. After all,
human beings are not wired for abuse. After the Columbine shooting, it has become apparent to
society that in a snap, social lives can be ravagely twisted into a crumpled matter of life and death.
Eric and Dylan rose from their former humiliation and turned the tables on those who ostracized
them. The malicious members of the irked tribes have fallen. Following the April 20 tragedy, there
came a long string of copycat threats in various middle and high schools across North America. To
the culprits of these threats, Eric and Dylan are essentially heroes worthy of their respect. They
opened the doors for these embittered teenage outcasts, as well as the eyes of many, screaming in
the now-trembling faces of their tormentors, “See, we will seek revenge for every injustice you’ve
ever done to us”.
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