I believe that no matter where you go, what you achieve, how much money you make, the type of people you hang with or the car you drive this much is certain – you never truly get out of high school.
I think it’s because high school is such an intense time of growth and learning, personally and otherwise, that those things we feel and experience are indelibly inked on our psyche. And now, in case there weren’t enough humiliating, sand-kicked-in-your-face, people-talking-behind-your-back moments, we now have Facebook.
I graduated from Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California almost 30 years ago. In the four years I went there, I desperately wanted to be a cheerleader but two things stood in my way. I was about as flexible as a two by four with the chest to match and I was undeniably a geek of the highest order. But there was one part of the cheer squad, just right for someone with my anemic physique and social standing – the flag team. Not the mini, cute ones, waved by even cuter girls with Farrah Fawcett hair. No these were the big, unwieldy poles with the fluttering flag on the end. But the odds were good for me because there were seven spots and only eight girls trying out. Surely I could snag one of those, right? WRONG! The one and only hopeful to get cut was, well, you guessed it, me!
So I focused on the things I was good at, which happened to be track and field. (Yep that’s me!)
I went to the state meet in the high jump and I ran down my fair share of opponents in the 100-meter hurdles. During track season, I had a taste of what it was like to be part of the “in” crowd where people knew your name in the hallway and wanted you to sit with them at lunchtime. It was a heady time, those couple of months in spring, but when track season was over, I went back to being one of the nameless, pimply-faced youngsters stressed as every part of me grew, except the parts I wanted (see above) and sitting home alone on Friday and Saturday nights. I can count on two fingers of one hand, the number of dances I went to.
Fast-forward 30 years to today or more accurately, a few days ago. Facebook as you know, has implemented these “groups”; they say it’s a reflection of the way we live our lives that like-minded people gather and share the same interests and likes. But there are two flaws to this. Because of technology, our circles are wider now. Instead of organically gravitating toward people with whom you naturally share interests you become “friends” with people who are “friends” of your “friends”. Confusing? Yeah. But truly the part that sends me into orbit is the fact that you can be added to people’s groups without your approval. They don’t ask if you’d like to join; they simply tap you on the shoulder (notification via email) and voila! You’re part of the “in-crowd”. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s like track season all over again.
Those of you who know me know that I have an independent streak a mile long and as wide as the Mississippi; don’t tell me what to do, who to like, what to wear and for Heaven’s sake you’d better not corner me. I have a temper and have been known to cut people off with swift precision. As you can see, I’ve made up for lost time since high school.
When I started getting added to groups I was incensed. I was so pissed I even started my own group, “Don’t Add Rene Syler To Your Group Without Her Permission” and threatened to un-friend anyone who corralled me into their group. Well, a day or so ago, I got added to a group. Why I didn’t remove myself immediately still baffles me. Around the same time I was experimenting with this new TweetDeck in which you can update all your social media simultaneously, perfect for someone like me who’s brand building on a budget. So, as is my job, I wrote and promoted to everyone, including my new “friends”. Then yesterday afternoon, one of my posts wouldn’t go through. The message read, “You are not a member of this group.” After a bit of detective work, I was able to figure out I had been ‘kicked out” of the group. You know, the one I had been added to against my will in the first place.
I am a grown woman, with kids of my own who thought I had exorcised the demons of the Del Campo High School flag team debacle. I guess not because confident, strong, take-no-prisoners Rene, was back to being flat chested, dateless and unpopular, all with one, swift keystroke. Being kicked out wasn’t as much a kick in the teeth as having to find out on my own. No one emailed to say either seriously or in jest, “Hey turn that part of your TweetDeck off” or “ We love you but really?” or “Knock it off!” Suddenly it was the day after track season and my newfound social circle slammed shut faster than the waters of The Red Sea after the Israelites had scrambled to the safety of other side.
I finally did get official notification about why I’d been kicked out of the group I never asked to join in the first place and the truly head-scratching part was why no one said anything before, what I like to call, the direct approach. Of course you know the answer, because we never, really get out of high school. I laugh about it now but truth be told I was 14-year-old Rene, charter and founding member of the “itty-bitty-titty-Committee, dealing with the pangs of unpopularity once again.
That high school experience, like every other thing we go through in life, taught me many things, among them, how to find my voice and use it. It’s what I do on goodenoughmother.com and in real life. It helped me develop an attitude of “I-don’t-care” and what powers me to say this…
(Taking deep breath here) “DON’T ADD ME TO YOUR STUPID, EFFING GROUP WITHOUT ASKING ME EVER AGAIN!”
Have you ever had a moment that transported you right back to high school? What was it and how did you handle it? And what drives you crazy when it comes to Facebook etiquette?