Popular- A book

Monday, November 18, 2019
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I just picked up this book and read it tonight (it's a fairly short read). It was exactly what I needed at this time. The author, Mitch Prinstein looks at how popularity continues to greatly influence life outcomes, even though the subject is almost taboo. Popularity continues to exert a  huge influence regarding who is listened to, who is taken seriously, and who is ignored or neglected.
Seeing it in book form was both exciting and slightly discouraging, as if you are one of the unpopular, you tend it hope it is all in your head. He also explains how popularity is linked to income, retaining one's job in tough times, getting one's way over others, among other things.

One story he told was how an impassioned mother fought for six months, lobbying, researching, and working towards getting a gifted program in her local school. The school board repeatedly denied her. Then a more popular lady whisked in, and using nothing but her own personal power, persuaded the school board to start a gifted program within 15 minutes. I know many of us can relate to this, and the helplessness we feel when we are on the "unpopular" side of such circumstances.

The author splits people into five groups: the average, the accepted, the rejected, the neglected, and the controversial.
The average make up about 40% of the population, with the accepted being the popular and well liked people. The rejected are the ones who are not liked, although, they may not even know they are rejected or disliked, but they are known. Ouch. The neglected simply tend to be forgotten, and finally the controversial may be high profile or high status, but aren't particularly liked by peers. Of these, of course, the accepted fare best.
Seeing which group one falls into is fascinating, although as stated early, it isn't really a huge surprise. Additionally even among the average in the center, each person has tendencies towards one of the other groups.  Instead, the book takes what is probably experienced day to day, and occasion to occasion, and puts it into terms and words which lend validity to the experience.

The author isn't without hope that people who fall into the less desired corners can change and become more popular. He does, however, note that during times of stress or in new situations, we all have a tendency to revert to the feelings of adolescence, thus making true change difficult (although not impossible).

Personally, I enjoyed this book because the stories told contrasting different people and their outcomes was fascinating. I could find myself and see my own experiences in the five groups of people, and could quickly identify the two I lean towards . If you are slightly on the nerdy side, and want a book which validates your experiences in the world of grown-up cliques and power structures, it's a fun read.

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