If there is one thing that has not changed amongst the high school crowd since I’ve been gone, it is the relentless pursuit of teens to be accepted by their peers. And acceptance isn’t such a bad quest, but when teens decide popularity should be their goal, things can get a bit messy.
According to the American Psychological Association, popular teens are often more aggressive toward their classmates. But this aggression does not necessarily have to be confrontational. Popular students can remain popular using rumors and snubbing of fellow students to maintain their status. And guess what, girls are more apt to use what is called relational aggression in their attempt to gain and keep their popularity.
Now I’m not trying to say that all popular students are mean, rumor starters, and snobs, but lets face it, some popular kids have a way of making the not-so-popular kids remain that way. It’s been that way for a long time. It shouldn’t be.
In Matthew 23:12 (NIV), Jesus tells us, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” The “pursuit of popularity” is nothing more than exalting oneself. However, popularity that comes from others admiring a person’s character, integrity, and positive attitude should not be considered wrong. The Rev. Billy Graham is one of the world’s most popular Christians, but his fame comes from others admiration of his tireless work and commitment to his faith. I have not heard a single accusation of gossip and snubbing of others where this leader is concerned. We must be careful not to consider all forms of popularity negative.
So the next time you wonder about where you rank on your high school’s popularity chart, remember that there are indeed two different types of popularity. The kind that glorifies God and His commandments, and then there is the kind of popularity that glorifies oneself and one’s own achievements at the expense of others. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Source: Overt and Relational Aggression and Perceived Popularity: Developmental Differences in Concurrent and Prospective Relations. By Rose, Amanda J.; Swenson, Lance P.; Waller, Erika M.
Developmental Psychology. 2004 May Vol 40(3) 378-387 found at http://content.apa.org/journals/dev/40/3