This New York TImes article about school bullying and the corresponding discussion on MetaFilter brings back a lot of memories from high school.
I was picked on a lot in high school, and I spent many years trying to figure out why. After 25 years, I agree with the MeFi posters who say that bullying is all about enforcing social conformity. I think I was threatening to a lot of people–not because I was different, but because I was different and either didn’t know it or didn’t think anything of it.
For instance, I was tall and generally fit but not interested in sports. I realize now that I was fairly good looking but didn’t realize it (judge for yourself); I was smart but took it for granted; and I was ambitious, taking part and excelling in a variety of non-sporting school activities: band, choir, German club, and speech.
One particular provocation always comes to mind, and I think it’s a perfect example. My sophomore year, my assigned locker was in some out-of-the-way place, so my band friend Walter, a senior, offered to let me share his locker which was centrally located. Walter and I got constant hassling for sharing a locker, mostly by the ‘jocks’ and of the homophobic sort. Looking back at it, to have two band guys sharing a locker and not thinking anything of it must have been terribly threatening to the more narrow-minded and insecure among my high school peers. But at the time, that didn’t occur to me, that I remember.

Categories: Personal

1 Comment

Phil Vaughan · 2008/04/17 at 16:24

Been reading your blog for a while, and this is my first comment. Very good insight regarding your own bullying experiences. My son is dealing with some of the same things, and your thoughts have helped us understand his situation a little better. Keep writing.

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