Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Social Network Cliques

The jocks. The nerds. The popular girls. Everyone who has ever attended school knows about cliques—social groups that are so often a source of angst and conflict in the lives of children and adolescents. But guess what. When all is said and done, and high school is over, we all still have to deal with cliques. Personally, I think it's ridiculous. I'm in a few closed groups in social networks online, and it's interesting to me to see how different they can be from one another. I'm in them because I choose to be, and I am online friends with many in the groups. But, a couple of the groups are very clique like. Recently two members of a group emailed me regarding certain aspects of those groups, and how hurt they were, or how bothered they were by things being said or leaked to them. My advice was to either leave the group or don't interact with the group because they feel pressured to but to merely interact when they feel they have something to say. Then I started researchig cliques, because like them, I've had different experiences also. Thus, I decided to post this blog about cliques. I hope it helps some of you to understand more about our reactions and interactions with others in the social network groups we mingle with on the internet and how we may appear to others.

A clique is tight knit group that often revolves around people who participate in similar activities. Instead of creating lasting friendships, sometimes people involved in cliques seem to only care about themselves and the things they are interested in. They may also exclude people outside of their group. Members of a clique may be more concerned about their social standing within the group rather than making other friends. This happens a lot in the social networks of the internet such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, etc.

If you've ever had to deal with social network cliques, you already know that it can be mildly annoying to really frustrating, and sometimes very hurtful. Learning ways to cope with cliques will help you realize that you don't need approval from a group to feel good about yourself.

Adults may see a clique as a way to make friends and become popular. For someone who may not be very outgoing on their own in real life situations, social network online cliques may help make it easier to socialize. Social netowrk cliques may be tightly controlled by a leader (or a few leaders) and their close allies just like the school cliques were. Those in control typically have the ability to decide who is cool and who's not, and what behavior is acceptable and what is not. This can feel uncomfortable for those who are left out yet know about the secret group.

Many social network cliques are usually closed to people outside of the group. Clubs are different because they are open to people who share common interests. In cliques there is often a lot of pressure to act the same as the other members. In clubs, people tend to share ideas, and respect the opinions of others. Been there, done that. And I ususally feel left out because I know if I reveal my true opinion I will get either the silent treatment or talked about behind my back.

Speaking of talking behind someone's back. Know also that in every clique there is a so called 'big mouth'. That's the one who, when you open your email, message box or your private messages or direct messages tells you what has been said about you, or what the group said in another secret clique group that is secret to you. How lame is that? Personally I don't care to know, but then people can't seem to keep their mouths closed (or in the case of the social networks, their fingers off the keyboard to spread gossip in hopes to make themselves look appealing.) Group dynamics can lead to what is known in psychology as a "risky shift."

It may feel good to be approached by someone who is in a private social network group. You're not alone most people want to feel accepted, particularly in new social situations, but don't fall for what appears to be a quick way to go from being unnoticed to being cool and popular. Realize that you are interesting and unique just as you are.

Know who you are and don't let others change you - Think about your values and what you believe in, and look for friends you can relate to based on similar interests. NEVER feel pressured to be someone else or act a certain way to get the approval of your peers. The excitement of feeling liked by members of a clique will wear off quickly if you find out that they want you to do things or act in a certain way that's just not you.

Respect yourself - It may sound corny, but we all need to "like" ourselves and feel comfortable in our own skin. Most people get a yucky feeling when they feel pressured into behaving in a way that they normally wouldn't act.

Give yourself a chance to meet different kinds of people - Having diverse friendships and interests makes life much more interesting. By joining an online clique, you might limit yourself to the beliefs and activities of only one group. Learning about different people, their cultures, ethnicity, values, and beliefs is also a way of figuring out what you value. In other words, you shouldn't be influenced or limited by just one group of people, as is often the case with cliques.

Have your own opinion - It's fine to agree with others and share the same opinions, but if you feel strongly about something hold your ground even if it goes against the beliefs of the group, especially when it comes to bashing. One can have an opinion of someone or their abilities without bashing another person. Also, if a friend has a different opinion about something such as the type of music he/she likes or something else they think is cool, respect their opinion too.

Don't be afraid to speak up - You may find out that your social network group of friends has changed into a "clique". Don't be afraid to speak up if you notice that your social network friends are mean to others outside of your group, or if they exclude them from social events. If this happens, you may decide to make new friends or just limit your time with the group..

Last of all, If you realize that you are feeling controlled by other people (in your social network clique(s)), then it's probably time to move on. Find another group or just participate more in open groups. More often than not, you can get out of a social network clique just by spending less and less time with the group when you're online. Sometimes though, it may take courage to stand up for what you believe in, and tell people you don't like what they're saying, and you don't want to hang out with them anymore. The bottom-line is you should only spend time with people that genuinely care about you and allow you to be your own person.

I hope this information helped with regard to social network cliques. Good luck to everyone and remember have fun while you're online and there's no need to feel pressured. We get enough pressure from our real life situations sometimes. We certainly don't need it online.