David Brooks: The Op-Ed Page is Like High School (With More Words)

“The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds.” —David Brooks, The Alpha Geeks, The New York Times, May 23, 2008.

“Every society produces its own distinct brand of social misfits, I suppose, but our social structure seems to produce significant numbers of people with rank-link imbalances. That is to say, they have all of the social skills required to improve their social rank, but none of the social skills that lead to genuine bonding. They are good at vertical relationships with mentors and bosses, but bad at horizontal relationships with friends and lovers.

“Perhaps they grow up in homes with an intense success ethos and get fed into the Achievatron, the complex social machine that takes young children and molds them into Ivy League valedictorians.

“They go through the oboe practice, soccer camp, homework marathon childhood. Their parent-teacher conferences are like mini-Hall of Fame enshrinements as all gather to worship at the flame of their incipient success. In high school, they enter their Alpha Geekdom. They rack up great grades and develop that coating of arrogance that forms on those who know that in the long run they will be more successful than the beauties and jocks who get dates.” —ibid, The Rank-Link Imbalance, March 14, 2008.

“The jocks sit here; the nerds sit there; the techies, drama types, skaters, kickers and gangstas sit there, there and there. What you see is not class in the 19th-century sense, but a wide array of lifestyle cliques, some richer, some poorer, but each regarding the others as vaguely pathetic and convinced of its moral superiority… Similarly, when it comes to politics, high school explains most everything you need to know.” —ibid, Lunch Period Poli Sci, April 30, 2006.

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David Brooks: The Op-Ed Page is Like High School (With More Words)