General Question

Siren's avatar

Is popularity important to you?

Asked by Siren (3404points) January 9th, 2009

Does it make you feel special that many people want to be around you, whether it is online associations or real-life connections? If so, why? Or, are you happy to bask in the glow of a few friends? Have you changed your views since high school regarding popularity, or are they basically the same? And, is popularity an end in itself (philosophically speaking)? I am curious to all responses.

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71 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

It was terribly important to me until I turned 17 and left for college. After that, I never thought about it.

asmonet's avatar

I’m happy either way. At different times in my life my circle of friends has grown to thirty or so and fallen back down to three or four. It’s nice to be the life of the party and get attention but it’s a lot of work. I never cared about being popular in high school, and it didn’t matter. There were the ‘popular kids’ and I had probably as many friends they did, a lot of the same friends too. But, I didn’t like any of the kids with the label smack dab on them.

Since leaving high school my friends list has fluctuated just like when I was in high school, but not for the same reasons, and I haven’t thought about ‘popularity’ since.

Siren's avatar

Nice answers gailcalled and asmonet!

For me: I tended to shy away from popularity in high school. Perhaps it was that tiny aspect of insincerity when everyone wants to be your friend for no apparent reason that bothered me. I just never felt comfortable being very popular. Preferred to just hang out with a nice group of friends. I guess I still have that preference now. Maybe that’s why I wouldn’t make a great politician? among other reasons

augustlan's avatar

In junior high it became so important to me that I ‘dumbed down’ so I wouldn’t be the smart kid! It didn’t last long, I was amazed at the shallowness and cruelty exhibited by the popular group, and ran for the hills. I’ve never looked back :)
I always had plenty of friends, from multiple groups…I just never cared to be in the inner circle again after that experience.

Grisson's avatar

My instant response is ‘of course not’. Then I think about how I felt when a flutherer reacted badly to one of my posts and I guess I’m not so sure it’s not important. I guess it depends on popular with whom?

Vincentt's avatar

I quite like it when people feel comfortable around me, but I’ve also found that most people do that when you don’t put too much effort into that, just being yourself.

Then again, I’m definitely de-emphasizing stuff I don’t think other people would be very interested in or might frown upon. But well, I just left high school, so…

airairariel's avatar

i never was… until i joined youtube.
hahaha, kidding. i never was, and i still am not. i just do as i please and if people think it’s awesome, then i’m stoked.
if they don’t, i don’t care. :)

Siren's avatar

@Grisson: good point. I was also thinking of the popularity aspect on sites like this one, if they are important to you. Perhaps as we get to know one another it’s less about popularity than mutual respect? Or is it still trying to be “one of the gang” mentality?

Grisson's avatar

For me it’s not so much being ‘one of the gang’ as being the joker. If I make someone laugh, then I feel accepted. The risk is that my humor may offend someone, then I fall flat and feel rotten. I seem to take the risk a lot.

Thanks for posting a though-provoking question.

bythebay's avatar

I enjoy my friends company, and I hope they feel the same. My entire life I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by great friends. I’m not so sure that constitutes popular in the typical sense, though. I do think some people view popularity a a goal, but how do you really know when you achieved it? I like being liked; but it’s not my focus. I tend to shoot from the hip and that makes some people very unhappy; but I am what I am. It is rarely my intent though to purposely drive people away or to draw attention to myself.

Siren's avatar

@Grisson: You’re welcome. Thanks yourself too for responding to this post!

@bythebay: It sounds like popularity is not that important to you then.

I would view popularity as being friends with a lot of people, although you may not know them all personally. It’s almost like suddenly everyone wants to be your friend.

Does anyone have another definition, or would like to add to mine?

dynamicduo's avatar

In the traditional meaning of the word popularity, it never was important, and it never will be for me. I’ve seen popular people become slaves to their friends to retain their popularity, and that’s not how I want to live at all.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It’s not important now, but it was desperately important to me in middle and high school, and I tried to pretend it wasn’t. By the end of high school, I realized that what I wanted wasn’t popularity, but a few good friends I could count on and I had those. And I have those today. And they have me!

I can’t lie, though, when I get a lot of + tags for a comment I make on YouTube, I will smile.

Siren's avatar

@dynamicduo: Well-put! It may start feeling like a job, shaking everyone’s hands or greeting everyone all the time.

bythebay's avatar

@Siren: Do you want to be liked by a large group of people or respected? Maybe that’s the difference, for me anyway.

galileogirl's avatar

I attended 4 different high schools (and 6 schools before that) so it would have been silly to try and be popular socially. I made a few close friends but always was friendly to everyone.

I have continued this way for 45 years. I always seem to have a ‘family’ who work in close proximity. But I don’t think I go much further than being polite and pleasant. If you mean popular as someone charismatic and the center of every party then that’s not me. If you mean the person others turn to for getting things done, I guess that would be me because I like my job. Since I put so little into developing friendships, I am constantly surprised by people who seek me out to talk.

dalepetrie's avatar

For me, authenticity and being myself has always been far more important then what people think about me. I don’t like to be actively disliked, but I’d just as soon not be the center of attention. I have a small circle of close friends and generally people seem to say I’m very likable, but I don’t need affirmation, never have…not even in high school…as long as I didn’t get beat up or wasn’t humiliated in some public fashion, it was a good day. I’d say for me it’s more on a micro level…if I want a particular person to like me, I have a hard time with it if that person doesn’t, but I don’t need 10 people to constantly be seeking my attention. I agree with bythebay, respect is far more important to me than popularity, and I just never understood this whole thing we call image. Fashion eludes me for one thing…I have never followed trends, I’ve just done my own thang, and indeed, I’ve found that it’s easier to get people to like you if you just be yourself than it is if you be what you think they want you to be, not to mention that even if you succeed in putting on airs and making someone like you…they don’t actually like YOU, they like the image you’ve styled for yourself.

Siren's avatar

@bythebay: Sounds good to me (your definition).

Siren's avatar

@dalepetrie: so true, so true. Image goes a long way into popularity, doesn’t it?

Sometimes people are popular by accident, because of the role they play or what they look like. For example, a cheerleader may be well-known, and if she is friendly could easily become quite popular, because she is visible all the time at events, etc.

bythebay's avatar

I know you’re not a child, but this is the advice I give mine:

Worry about you, and how you feel about yourself. Just make sure you’re being honest with yourself. The rest will all fall into place. :)

Siren's avatar

@bythebay: Because, essentially, we can’t control if we become popular, right? Sometimes you just find yourself in that limelight by accident. Whaddya do :)

Darwin's avatar

@dalepetrie – I think I had the same high school experience: “as long as I didn’t get beat up or wasn’t humiliated in some public fashion, it was a good day.” Besides many of my interests and hobbies were rather solitary: writing, reading, music, and art.

@ggirl – I went to 12 schools by the end of 12th grade so I figured there was little point in wasting energy on the popularity game. I generally had one or two friends and that was enough. My brother, OTOH, was always the center of attention in school. But then he was tall, blond, extremely girl crazy, and a musician.

Judi's avatar

This question reminds me of my first day of Jr Hi. My best friends mom dropped us off at school and to this day I think her farewell greeting was odd, and my children have joked about it as they went to school, her mother yelled out the car window, “I hope you’re really popular!”

bythebay's avatar

@Siren: If you find yourself in the limelight…and you enjoy it…open up your arms and take it in!

asmonet's avatar

@Judi: That is….odd. Very strange. I wonder what made her say that?

Darwin's avatar

I did have a job for 18 years where I was popular in spite of myself. I had to go on TV a lot and get quoted in the local paper and I had a title that sounded important – “Museum Curator.” It used to strike me as very strange that people I didn’t even know would come up and fawn over me simply because the 6 o’clock news featured a sound bite of me talking about dinosaurs or Xeriscaping or Selena.

OTOH, I also had quite a following with the under 10 set, especially among kids who liked fossils. It was always fun to have a small child run up and hug my knees in the grocery store because I am the “Dinosaur Lady.” However, once it was a bit life-threatening as the fan nailed me just as I was about to go down a flight of stairs at the public library.

Now that I am retired I find it fascinating both that so many of my adult “fans” have completely forgotten who I was, but that so many others do remember me and love to come up and howdy me. I particularly enjoy it when some of my younger fans, who are now 6’ 2” and grad students in various fields, come up and want to talk about “remember when.”

Grisson's avatar

Interesting that the answers to this question are pointing out a distinction between traditional ‘High School’ popularity, and the popularity of a social site like

I once knew a system admin of a social site called ‘QWest’ (a Muck, for those of you who remember them). His name was Cynbe, and he said that in real life he had like 100+ friends, but on QWest he was known and liked by over 5000 people all over the world. Quite a difference.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Yes and no. I don’t need to be one of the “popular kids”, but I do like to be liked by my friends. In my social circle, yes, I want to be popular. What’s the point of having friends and doing all the work required to keep friends if they don’t like me or want to be my friend back.

When it comes to something like Fluther, I’m fine with being active, but not necessarily popular. If you asked me, I’d probably say I wasn’t popular here—those like, I don’t know, DalePetrie or Gail are way more popular. But I’m definitely established enough in my own way. Fluther’s extremely handy social ranking system tells me I have 4905 lurve. And I’m gonna assume I didn’t get that by lurking and wall-flowering here.

I was just thinking about Lurve as a social ranking system the other day. In a way it does judge popularity because after a while, my BFFJill* can’t give me anymore so having a lot of lurve does imply a lot of people liked at least one of your responses.

*as in “OMG my BFF Jill” from that obnoxious cell phone commercial.

bythebay's avatar

@EmpressPixie : 4910! And my 12yo daughter still cracks up over that commercial!

Jeruba's avatar

My view has been consistent through high school and all the many years since: I never cared about it. In fact, looking at the kids who were popular, I so much did not want to be anything like them that I think I would have been offended by “popularity.”

A few good friends matter to me; being the center of a crowd would make me very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to do all the things you’d have to do to hold your position. I prefer to have more freedom than that.

I do care about my reputation and would want to be thought well of generally by those who know me; that is, I would hope that friends and nonfriends alike see me as honest, intelligent, and open-minded, whether we happen to be among each other’s favorite people or not. But, as ever, there are a few whose regard matters not at all. If I don’t respect a person, nothing could induce me to give a fig for their opinion of me. Right now one of those people is my manager’s boss, which is one reason why I expect to lose my job this year. I was told a very long time ago (by a man I respected) that I suffer fools poorly.

As an interesting footnote, I remember reading a few years ago of a study in which researchers surveyed young people on the subject of popularity. One of the curious findings was that a majority of high schoolers, both the “popular” and the “unpopular” ones, thought popularity was a matter of luck and did not correlate it to behavior, personality, or attitude.

Siren's avatar

I think part of obtaining Lurve is also a validation you are popular, whether you intended that or not. People liked your question/response. The other half is responding right? You get points for participation.

Siren's avatar

Interesting study Jeruba. I think the majority of teenagers have their head on their shoulders, too.

wundayatta's avatar

For me, popularity is having people I like and respect want to spend time with me. It means they call me and invite me to things, instead of the other way around. They want to hang with me, even just doing nothing. It means they value my opinion and seek it out.

Shall I say…. let me put it this way: I have hungered for that throughout my life, and my stomach is still growling.

Jeruba's avatar

@Daloon, I remember feeling that way in high school with respect to a few people: I wanted them to seek me out. Instead I was actively sought after by a few whose company was not such a thrill but whom I treated in a caring way just the same. It took me a long while to figure out that I would have to take a little positive action myself and show some interest in the ones I liked or I would never get to pick my friends; instead I’d be completely dependent on those who picked me.

I was about 20 when I finally learned that nothing is so charming to others as your interest in them.

Grisson's avatar

Hey @daloon, wanna go get a beer?

wundayatta's avatar

@jeruba, I always think that unsolicited attention is undesirable. Like being a stalker or something. It’s like being interested in a woman simply because she’s beautiful. What does that say about a person? (well, more than I used to think it did) Anyway, I assume my attention is unwanted, and so I wait for people to indicate an interest. Part of it is that it’s terribly difficult for me to handle rejection. It really tears me down.

Anyway, in order to make a friend, you have to know something about them first, and they have to know something about you, and you both have to know the other person knows something. Only then can you indicate an interest without those horrible feelings.

Now, I’ve been a salesman of sorts (door-to-door fundraiser) and I have no problem selling something I believe in. However, I must believe in it. Hmmm. I think I’m having a not-so-good day.

I wrote all this before @Grisson posted.

You betcha, Grisson!

Jeruba's avatar

Side note: it appears that the automatic link with the @ hail is case-sensitive.

dalepetrie's avatar

I find lurve to be more of a validation that I know what I’m talking about and can articulate it so that it can be understood, than an indicator of my popularity. At least that’s how I prefer to think of it…I wouldn’t want lurve just because someone likes me…but it’s nice to know that someone found what I said to be of value, makes me feel like I helped someone, but doesn’t swell my ego.

Jeruba's avatar

Lurve for your comment, @dalepetrie.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@dalepetrie That’s true. But I would also say that consistently having well written, knowledgeable comments is a large part of popularity here.

Jeruba's avatar

@daloon, it’s a matter of the quality or character of the attention. Leering attention is never welcome, and hungry attention tends to give off a kind of warning vibe that usually makes others turn away or raise their shields. Genuinely interested benign attention, however, is attractive, even when (or especially when) the people don’t know each other. I myself could never resist “You look like an interesting person, and I thought I’d try to get to know you.”

It’s a double-bind, I know, and not fair. In a way it’s very much like looking for a job when you have been out of work for a long while and are really getting desperate. If you act desperate, and especially if you act desperate and angry (toward all those other people who didn’t hire you, and toward this interviewer who you know is also not going to hire you), you give off an aura that says failure, and no one will want to hire you. You have to act confident without arrogance and humble without obsequiousness. Both things are easiest if they are genuine. (Maybe better practice in front of a mirror.)

GAMBIT's avatar

“To Thine Own Self be True” – William Shakespeare

Jeruba's avatar

P.S. to @daloon:
> I always think that unsolicited attention is undesirable
Think about what the act of soliciting attention might consist of. Tricky, isn’t it? Somebody has to make the first move. It does not always have to be the other person. Always assuming the burden belongs to the other is a poor start, in my opinion.

(In the old days, romantically, at least, this is what ladies’ fans and meaningful glances were for.)

seekingwolf's avatar

No, in fact, I don’t like being popular.
It’s nice to have a few friends, but having too many people like you is annoying…high expectations, never any alone time…and too many gifts to buy. :P

pathfinder's avatar

My theory about this say:as many people as talk about me than bather.Why, because after I died then people will resurect my back among the live.People talking about me in storys in many ways,in,good,bad,worst…...............honest… this is worfit to give it a try for me…....

jlm11f's avatar

Popularity, like many other aspects of life, is a fragile and fickle feeling. Embrace it when you have it, be apathetic when you don’t. As long as I stay true to myself and have my close friends with me, I am happy. And popularity continues to stay meaningless.

Jeruba's avatar

Lurve for Pathfinder.

mea05key's avatar

Good stuffs people. I now believe that popularity mostly depends on luck. Anyone can be popular as long as the environment is suitable for him. I like to be popular when people like me for who i am and not for other motives.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i guess i like to appeal to the people who appeal to me (friends, people i’d like to be friends with, etc). but just to be known widely by a bunch of random people i don’t even know – no. i really couldn’t care less.

Judi's avatar

@asmonet It was a perfect example of their family priorities. Not, “I hope you do well in school,” or “I hope your teachers are the best,” but “I hope you’re really popular.” That was the priority of their family and personally in made me sick at the time.
It turned into a lesson when raising my kids and teaching them about character and what is and isn’t important in life. My kids are the type who will stand up in the face of injustice even if it means sacrificing their “social standing.” In that area I feel I did a pretty good job as a mom.

Knotmyday's avatar

Nope. But I like a lot of people, and I love more than a few. If folks don’t like me, too bad. I’ll still share my lunch with them if they’re hungry.

If your happiness resides in the opinion of others, prepare for disappointment.

I like you guys.

Jack79's avatar

Hard question. I have to explain here that I worked as a professional singer for many years, so of course popularity was part of the job (though I never had the adulation that the famous stars enjoy). I also worked as a teacher (and still do) which in a way I find a very similar type of job, the only difference being that students don’t really have a choice and therefore you don’t need to please them so that they come again. But I dealt with both jobs in exactly the same way.

I think that over the years I’ve developed a very healthy attitude towards public opinion (and you have no idea how much I’ve been bashed by the media). I generally try to do my best, both personally and professionally. I am as kind as I can be, try to help people and do things that, if nothing else, give me a good conscience. After that, I ignore any unfair negative comments but at the same time feel nice about the positive ones. I am in no way craving for applause or recognition. In fact I’m the only singer that never cares if I sing to an empty venue or if nobody buys my CD. But of course it’s always nice to be appreciated.

90s_kid's avatar

Not for me

hectorgonzales123's avatar

i really dont care what other people think of me,
a few years ago it was somewhat in my head but there are other far more important things.
every mind if a different world

asmonet's avatar

@Judi: A damn good lesson. :)

steelmarket's avatar

If it was, I’d have a damn sight more than 1400 lurve !

EmpressPixie's avatar

Psh, you can’t control or hurry lurve. You just have to wait. They say lurve don’t come easy, it’s a game of give and take.

steelmarket's avatar

Momma said there’d be days like this..

Sakata's avatar

I’m, personally, a very selfish person. (I’ve come to terms with it and have learned how to cope with others around me.) I’m also considered to be a “funny” guy.

I’m Mr. “Life-Of-The-Party” ... center of attention. I know hoe to read a group and play to them. (usually) Duh, I need the attention. I feed off of it. Therefor popularity is very important to me.

In general, I hate people but I love attention. Weird I know.

wundayatta's avatar

@Sakata: yeah, I know that feeling. In my case, though, I love playing so much, but get so little opportunity to do so, and I get resentful, and start wondering why people dislike me so. Oh, you probably know the drill.

Sakata's avatar

**points two fingers at his own eyes then points them at daloons eyes**
I’m with ya bro. Eye to eye, bud. Eye to eye.


cornets_01's avatar

nope. if it is is, then you’re outta yer head.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Not a day after highshool.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

What does the content of some of my posts tell you?

Cruiser's avatar

To your first question Yes, otherwise you get a pie in your face. The other ones…no, no, no and yes and you still get the pie in the face to show how much being popular means to me!!!

Siren's avatar

@Cruiser: That’s a lot of pie.

Seriously, thanks for your response. I’m working on figuring out which “yes” and “no” applies to each of my questions.

Cruiser's avatar

@Siren, I am a firm believer that you have to feel secure in who you are, why you are doing what you are doing and with whom you are doing things. There is not much wiggle room for compromise as life is too short to exist to just make other people happy….

Siren's avatar

@Cruiser: So the bottom line for you is that, popularity is at the bottom of your priority list in life? And maintaining popularity in your opinion oftentimes involves compromising ones own values and judgment in order to be liked by others?

Just trying to clarify your viewpoint.

Cruiser's avatar

@Siren Yes, needing to be popular and then having to try to be something you are not to gain that popularity seems so shallow, a sell out and a sad waste of the little precious time we have to live on this planet. Life is too short to waste on pretending….

liliesndaisies's avatar

Sometimes I crave for it.

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