Emily W. Michigan

Teens Strive For Popularity

Popularity amongst teens is resulting in poor behavior choices and not focusing on "the big picture" in life

Dear future Madam or Mr. President,

Hi my name is Emily White and I would like to bring a topic to your attention that is often unrecognized. A problem that I have come to notice is that teenagers are feeling compelled to be “just like” their peers. Aside from striving to be a good friend and classmate, there are other standards that teens are feeling obligated to reach. Not only is this a topic of discussion but it is a problem that needs to be resolved. A generous number of teenagers are focusing more on their looks and social status than the aspects in life that really matter. Being a teenager myself, I personally have a great understanding as to where this obsession comes from; but I firmly believe it is out of hand. What our society doesn’t perceive is that aside from being “popular” or “the coolest kid in school”, teenagers are being impacted in a negative way whether they realize it or not. The problem with popularity is that teenagers are being pressured into poor behavior choices and they are simply focusing too much on the aspect of being “cool” rather than accepting reality.

As a teenager, I can personally relate to the topic of social status in a high school setting. Being a 15 year old girl in a public high school, I am exposed to a wide variety of kids everyday. Some are very similar to me, and some are not. But as a girl who doesn’t necessarily have a great number of friends and isn’t considered the “most popular” in my grade, I understand the pressure my generation is feeling. However, through the accessibility and popularity of social media today, I am able to create an image of what I do not want to be. As mentioned in an article from csmonitor.com, “The popular kids who also tend to be the trend-setters may be acutely aware of the expectations of the "cool" peer group, and may therefore be more susceptible to engaging in behavior that helps them fit in.” From my perspective, I think that making amateur decisions will only hurt you in the long run. I disagree with the popular belief that drinking alcohol at a young age and performing risky behavior will help you become a better person. In the year of 2016, I am exposed to my peer’s poor behavior through the power of social media. Whether it be a photo, video, or tweet, the information is always being exposed to the public. These inconsiderate actions are prone to result in an increase of popularity at the time, but they will not truly benefit you as an individual. Not only can these shameful actions result in punishment, but they can also ruin your reputation. The problem with teenagers becoming involved in unnecessary behavior is that they don’t think of the potential outcome prior to their actions. Becoming the popular and well liked person in your grade is all fun and games until you unexpectedly take a downfall. The poor behavior choices that are made are only one contribution to how popularity affects our society.

Another crucial problem is that teenagers become too obsessed with the idea of being popular that they tend to forget what’s really important in life. Based on my personal knowledge, I know that popularity is a big deal to a majority of teenagers. I go to school everyday, I am surrounded by these people all day long, and I know what they are looking for. They want people to know who they are and they want people to think they are superior. They secretly want people to aspire to be like them, but if they do then they are mean to them. And if they don’t want to be like them, then they’re mean to them for that. My objective is not to give popular people the stereotype of being mean people. However, the point I am trying to get across is that if you’re mean to people because they aren’t as popular as you, then being popular shouldn’t matter. What I want our society to do is open their eyes and really think deep about what should be important in their lives. If being popular is that important, then maybe people should reconsider their actions and be a good influence. Maybe then being popular wouldn’t be such a bad thing. A quote from an article on oureverydaylife.com suports my thoughts exactly, “Popular students may feel compelled to portray themselves in a certain, socially acceptable way rather than engaging in authentic exploration of their identity as a young adult.” This quote is proving that teenagers are too engaged on their popularity status and are choosing not to focus on their future and the image they should be creating. Jennifer Powell, from csmonitor.com, agrees with my statement by saying, “Popularity during youth does not seem to give individuals an advantage in life over those who have a few good friends to see them through both their joys and struggles.” These teenagers are so obsessed with the idea of being popular that they fail to recognize what it actually means. Just because you are the most popular girl in high school does not determine how successful or well liked you will be in the future. If you’re popular but you’re not a positive influence and well mannered, then your popularity is nothing more than an unearned title. Someone’s popularity should be determined by their values and their positive contributions to life.

As the president of the United States, I would like you to make a change with this problem. I have provided you with evidence as to how popularity is affecting teenagers behavior and outlook on life. In most high schools, you more often than not see posters and campaigns advertising many other issues than popularity. How often do you hear or see anything that mentions treating everyone with equal respect and spreading positivity? I would like to see schools promote positive behavior and actions, whether it be through assemblies or vague announcements. One might be surprised as to how much a simple reminder throughout the day can make a difference. It is certainly something to consider but I wholeheartedly believe a change could be made; and that change starts with you.


Emily White