Peer Pressure, Still Relevant, Still Not All That Great

Daniel Smith, Humor Columnist

High School is portrayed in movies as either a horrible bullying center where the nerdy boy, the kind-of cute-but-not-cute-enough-to-be-popular girl, the generic 80’s kid and the flighty broad of all ages end up in the same place and get destroyed by “princesses” and jocks. Yes, this happens, don’t get me wrong, but the true problems between kids in High School arise from close friends who don’t give each other “swirlies.”

In groups of friends, the conflicts could be a love triangle or it could be the less noticeable and more insidious peer pressure. Sally, Janet and Barbara are all going to the fair, and while none of their names are used all that much anymore, Sally is afraid of heights. Janet and Barbara forcing her to go on is a form of peer pressure with seemingly no repercussions. If Sally were to be hurt or to blow chunks while on the roller coaster (or those drops that call themselves roller coasters but are really just glorified telephone polls), then her friends forced her into something that ended badly.

Dangerous stunts, moderately dangerous stunts, substances of the illegal kind which are bad and not good, barely dangerous stunts, the list goes on of what people could be hesitant about. Being nervous is fine and not wanting to join in is also fine. Respecting another person’s opinion is important in being a valuable friend and not a jerk. Would you jump off a cliff if your friends did it first? You probably shouldn’t jump off a cliff.

People feel forced to join in on things that their friends are doing, but whether they’re feeling forced or are actually being forced, goading kids into doing something stupid isn’t nice. Egging the person on until they give in, while seemingly harmless, and not threatening can have serious repercussions. Forcing somebody into something uncomfortable makes you the opposite of good. I can’t really impart on anyone a better method of bully-prevention, but if Jimmy doesn’t want to hop the fence, he doesn’t have to. Also, if a Jimmy reading this has hopped a fence, I suppose that’s cool too.