2008/03/24 at 12:19

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.