On the Popular Crowd, and the Anti-Elitist

This post may seem snarky and negative at first, but that is NOT the message, I promise!  Keep reading.

We all remember her from High School: the cheerleader, we’ll call her Buffy. (The mean one, not the nice one.  I don’t want to categorize all cheerleaders. Lots of my friends were cheerleaders in High School!)

Here’s a story:

Buffy has been buttering up her admirers all year so that they will, well… keep on admiring her.  Eleanor is one of those admirers in whom Buffy has confided in some.  Buffy won’t ever invite Eleanor to a party, but if she sees her at school, she’ll definitely go over and talk to her.  So they’re technically friends, right? Yeah.

So, one day it happens:

Eleanor: BUFFY!  You won’t belief what just happened! I’m so excited! Jimmy Rock just asked me out on a date for Friday night!

Buffy: Um… Jimmy Rock… you mean the quarterback, THAT Jimmy Rock?

Eleanor: Yes!  I never thought he’d notice me, but I helped him study for math, and… well… He wants to go out!!!!! (notice the excessive use of  exclamation points)

Buffy: (pregnant silence) Oh… that’s great, really. But he usually only goes out with Cheerleaders like me.  In fact, I don’t think he has ever dated a, um, non-cheerleader.  (more pregnant silence)  But I’m really happy for you, really, that’s really great. (notice the excessive use of the word “really”)

Buffy immediately finds Jimmy to let him know the bad news.  Sadly, Eleanor has been grounded by her dad, but she’s embarrassed to tell him.  So Eleanor sent Buffy to deliver the news.  “Don’t say anything to Eleanor though, because that would really embarrass her.  Just don’t go to her house Friday”

And Eleanor continues to wonder why Buffy doesn’t talk to her at school anymore.

Too many of us have had these experiences in life. Sadly I think I was more like Buffy than I should have been in High School. To the best of my memory, I never did anything this mean, though.  When I see people at class reunions that I tossed aside as friends because I thought I was better, I am sad.  Not for them, but for me.  I missed out on some great friendships, I’m sure. Thanks to Facebook and social media, I’m enjoying many of them now!

I’d like to think it ends in High School, but sadly, no. It’s part of human nature to put others down so we can rise up.  I’m taught by my faith that it’s part of our sin nature- but human nature, nonetheless. And I do not escape this tendency as a human- but I do try to rise above it.

The Elitist

The Elitist pulls people in around them to help herself get farther.  She needs admirers in order to show herself/others that she’s worth something.  She has few true friends (unless they can do something for her), although most people would say she is “so nice.”  Until they get too close.   If the minions start to encroach on HER opportunities, or if heaven forbid, they create their own, she’ll drop them like Donkey Kong. NO, that’s “It’s on like donkey kong”!* Drop them like a iPhone call.**  NO, I’m sorry… a hot potato; yeah that’s it.   Nevertheless, the elitist is good at what she does, and largely respected by the community. However, she values the social standing more than the people who surround her. (Admirers, if you will)

The Ant-Elitist

The Anti-Elitist gathers people around because she loves connecting with people, hearing their stories.  She is well-known and respected in her circles, but can often be seen sitting by the newbie in a group.  She loves learning from others and teaching what she knows.  Occasionally, she has to fight back the voice that says, “But I should have been chosen for that.”  However, she is truly joyful when she sees others succeed. She has never been featured in Southern Living, but has referred several other people when they were looking for stories.  (AHEM… Just Kidding.  Sort of.)  In order to be an anti-elitist, you have to value people more than your social/business standing. If you continue to innovate and inspire, you’ll stay on top of your game even while pulling OTHERS up to your platform!

The thing is…

Elitism is often a subconscious condition. It’s self preservation, and many times comes from deep insecurity and fear.  The reason I wrote this post is not because I have it all figured it out, but because after spending time with so many people, I know how I WANT to be.  And seeing the goal is 3/4 of what’s needed to get there, right?

BE the Anti-Elitist. You may not have palm fronds waved in your face and chamber maids fawning over you, but you’ll be happier, I promise.

It also helps me to decide whom I should share my successes with! Just like Eleanor, sharing with the wrong people can cost you opportunities.  Find those you really trust, with a track record of lifting others up.  Look for those whose friends succeed as much as they themselves. Confide in them.

I am really curious to hear your thoughts on this.  What do you think?  Do you think this is even something worth addressing?

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Thank you for the quotes:

* “Drop it like ______” …Donkey Kong…wait it’s “On like Donkey Kong.” ~@Musingsfromme

** “Drop it like an iPhone call”  ~@ericfoster

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. OH Sarah, you have no idea how happy I am to read this! I sat on my couch last night with a very similar post in my head. I just couldn’t think of a way to say it without sounding snarky. You said it so beautifully! Now I don’t have to *wink*

    I relate it to blogging in particular because I NEED help and I love finding people who will help me! I strive to pay it forward EVEN if that means I get passed over for something. After all, it’s just a blog. And while there are blogs I don’t “get” that doesn’t meant they shouldn’t exist! Everyone is different! That’s what makes it so much fun.

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  2. Thank you for linking to me!

    Your article is spot on. I have worked/associated with plenty of Elitists in blogging and my previous work life. I had one boss who was the “Idea Stealer.” She would take my idea or my co-worker’s and make it her own. I was very naive/young. I let her get away with it until I set the record straight by sending my idea to her boss first with my boss as a cc:. My boss was furious with me, but I felt better standing up for myself. She really shot herself in the foot, because none of our team (three editors) would give her any ideas or suggestions after that.

    In high school, I was a…I have no idea…my school was a Catholic convent school for girls in England, There were no jocks (a handful of girls played on all the sports teams)…no cheerleaders…no sports games where students watched other students play…no homecoming/prom/school dances. There was really was no bullying. Oh, well I did have someone say something mean to me, but she used a German word, so I never knew what she said. My friends stuck up for me and she didn’t do it again. All in all, I worry about high school for my daughter. School can be a very unfriendly place. The blogosphere is more like high school than I would like.

    The whole convo at #TypeAMom of “Do you know who I am?” is absurd. Anyone who has been around truly intelligent people or entrepreneurial types or out-of-the box thinkers knows that these people don’t need to tell you how intelligent they are. By talking to them you know that they are on top of their game whether their game is business, medicine, law, or social media. I would much rather interact with “real” people, like you, than the “elitists” AKA “how can you help me, but I probably won’t help you” types.

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  3. Chele
    Twitter: CheleChestnut
    says:

    What an awesome post Sarah!!! I absolutely love it… I was always one of those that talked with everyone in high school… geeks to the most popular. I always felt bad for the person that didn’t have many friends. Do unto others!!!! Oh I feel so strongly about this I could go on and on! Even when it comes to us Christians! I want to thank you for everything you have and continue to do for me… I love you friend!!! Hugs!

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  4. Teri Lynne Underwood
    Twitter: TeriLynneU
    says:

    Sarah, you have brilliantly explored a difficult topic … and with such grace. I love this idea of looking to surround myself with people who treasure the success of others instead of being jealous of it. So hard to find those people.

    I’m thankful you are in my life … and I deeply appreciate your honesty. I too was more Buffy-like than I’d like to think but am thankful for the boundless grace that my fellow graduates of 1989 extended to this very changed person last year at our 20th reunion!!

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  5. Sarah I especially liked the grace & truth I saw in this post. “Occasionally, she has to fight back the voice that says, ‘But I should have been chosen for that.'” Thanks for saying that. I was not the Buffy of my high school…not really the Eleanor either…but we all have dreams for ourselves…and if we’re honest, we can be a tad jealous/disappointed that we weren’t picked AND deliriously happy that our friend did at the same time. It’s human nature. The key is in admitting it, fighting it and extending grace for it. Beautiful post friend. I don’t think of you as a Buffy at all.

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    Jendi
    Twitter: vloggingtips
    Reply:

    That statement really resonated with me, too!

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  6. Molly
    Twitter: MollyinMinn
    says:

    Oh this is so very well written and so honestly approached. Thank you for putting it all into words so well.

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  7. You are a joy and a treasure! The end.

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  8. Oh Sarah, thankfully we get to grow out of who we were into who we can be! You are such a light in this world. And yes, this is something we all need to talk about because it’s too easy to get drawn into a narrow focus. Thanks for always reaching out into the world!!

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  9. Good post, girlie! I never could stand the cheerleader types, but only because I’m totally uncool. Geeky and poor–not a winning combination in high school! Some of us never get the chance to be elitist. It’s hard for me to imagine you being an elitist, so you must be working really, really hard on that! 🙂 Love that about you.

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  10. julie
    Twitter: justprecious
    says:

    Great post. When I was teaching, I remember thinking one of the biggest compliments I could give at parent-teacher conferences was “Child’s Name is so popular. Everyone loves him.” Now that I know more about the world, I’ve learned its a much better compliment to say “your child has a beautiful heart. He’s open and friendly and inclusive to everyone.”

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  11. Couldn’t have said it better myself, no seriously you did an excellent job.

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  12. monica
    Twitter: monicabrand
    says:

    I know how I want to be too. 🙂 Seeing how NOT to be helps. 🙂

    Great meeting you last weekend, Sarah. Take care of NC until I get back.

    m

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  13. Sarah, I loved this post. It’s so true! It pays to be humble. I would definetly fall into the anti-elitist category. I love listening and learning from other people’s stories. But I am human, and I do have an ego. Sometimes I wonder why people “don’t care” about the story I have to tell. It’s a balancing act I suppose. I guess there’s a little Buffy in all of us.

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  14. YES, ma’am! I had no idea who anyone was before the conference (literally NEVER went on Twitter) and I loved the unbiased way I went into the conference. The best conversations were with those who didn’t “name drop” or seem like they had an ulterior motive when talking to you.

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  15. Muthering Heights
    Twitter: MutheringHeight
    says:

    I LOVE this!!! I don’t think many bloggers see thongs in this light. Thanks for highlighting this issue! 🙂

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  16. Click Clack Mom says:

    What a thoughtful, uplifting post!! I love the line, “In order to be an anti-elitist, you have to value people more than your social/business standing.” So true!!

    You handled this sticky topic with a little bit of fun and a little bit of Buffy! Nicely done:)

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  17. This is a very wise post! As a new blogger, I’m feeling my way around still, and sometimes it feel like I’m lost in the dark. Others seem to find all these neat opportunities and subjects, and I feel like I’m missing the bus entirely. Figuring out who to interact with, as opposed to who to simply orbit around, is tough stuff.

    I suppose it’s really as simple as you make it seem. Build relationships and not fanships, and treat others as we’d hope to be treated. I’m looking forward to the day when I can be the “seasoned blogger” helping out the newbie!

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  18. Worth sharing? ABSOLUTELY!! I wish I would have learned this lesson a long time ago and it’s something I am constantly trying to instill in my 13 yr old. On a personal note- SARAH, I am so grateful to be blessed to have you in my life as someone I can share my successes with!

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  19. MommaDJane
    Twitter: MommaDJane
    says:

    Enjoyed reading this. Reminds me of the golden rule ‘actions speak louder than words’. Love it.

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  20. Jendi
    Twitter: vloggingtips
    says:

    Umm – my high school had less than 50 people and my graduating class had 2. So I don’t have personal experience in the high school area. BUT I’ve certainly come across those feelings in the blogosphere. I don’t like them and tend to make a wide circle around the people that even hint at being elitist.

    There are circles of bloggers, virtual assistants, and really smart women that are very supportive and helpful no matter what. Those are the ones I want to have as friends. See, they have made a business for themselves with an actual job and not just a popularity contest.

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  21. Great post Sarah! I think this is always worth the reminder. I’ve seen bloggers from both camps and I truly believe that the more you give and share with others, the more will come back to you.

    Have a great weekend!

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  22. Danielle Smith
    Twitter: DanielleSmithTV
    says:

    Sarah, you are such a true treasure….. I love that your kindness and soul always come shining through. And that you have such an open-hearted way of touching upon a tough issue. I met so many new, wonderful people this past weekend and was able to reconnect with people I have only chatted with briefly. It is important to surround ourselves with people who seek the best for others!

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  23. Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    says:

    I am loving all these awesome comments! I want to find time to respond to them all! I feel like this can apply to all areas of life, and it constantly challenges me to check myself.

    And its also a reminder to me to look around at what awesome friends I have who encourage me every day!

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  24. Sue Robinson
    Twitter: MotherhoodnMe
    says:

    I think it all comes down to character and personality. I never put someone down or do something to push someone out of the way so I can be on top. I can say never, because it is true and I hold my head up high with the ability to say that. I am proud of the fact that I have a good moral ethic and I believe the reason I do is because I am confident in myself and in my character.

    People who act like Buffy, in my opinion, are insecure and have to make sure people are “in their place” and they are on top. Makes them feel better, no matter how it makes others feel.

    I think it is worth addressing because in blogging, I need help all the time and want to learn, but I am confused as to who is authentic and who is not. I am not competitive, by nature, and id someone asks me for help, I help.

    It is confusing and sad, but it is the way it is. (sorry for the novel…)

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  25. Ginger
    Twitter: Here\'s My Cup Lord
    says:

    This is a wonderful post Sarah. I think you made things very clear and have given us a helpful reminder to walk peaceably with one another as Christian women.

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  26. This is awesome. Have you read The Inner Ring by CS Lewis? http://www.lewissociety.org/innerring.php If not, it’s a must. It was so helpful to me! I wish it stopped in HS too, but unfortunately, it doesn’t!

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  27. So well-written. Thank you greatly! Something in which we have always strived for our family to focus upon. You’ve summed it all up so well!

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