I interviewed people in Fairview High School about the societal pressures and norms in our high school. The students interviewed vary in age, background, experiences, gender, and general diversities. These interviews have exposed a common thread of a community run by hate, entitlement, personal gain, ego, and ignorance to the world and people in our community.
I remember every second of my first day at Fairview. I remember the chills of excitement running down my skin. I remember the anxiety of wanting to fit in. I remember the worry of not knowing more than five people at Fairview. Mostly, I remember my sister, Kendall, telling me to, “Shut up, calm down, and go find another freshman who is more scared than you,” because that’s what everybody is on their first day of high school, scared. Personally, I was astounded by the vast sea of faces standing out front waiting for the start of what would become the next four years of our lives. There is a certain buzz of excitement that comes with entering the unknown. High expectations radiate off the human brain in a way that is almost visable to the human eye.
As every freshman flooded into the school we were corralled down a single hallway into the auditorium. There were knight crew leaders lining the walls directing all of the confused freshman. I remember wanting to be like them. Everybody envied their stature and ‘rank’ in the hierarchy of high school. As I grew into my own person at Fairview, it became increasingly obvious that the social atmosphere had shifted dramatically. It was a stressed, angry, depressive environment highlighted by students rather than the easygoing, happy, confident vibe displayed by knight crew leaders I saw on my first day. So, what caused Fairview’s social normalcy to shift?
Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and function of human society. It also includes the study of social problems. According to Professor Alan S. Berger, a key component of social behavior is the social grouping. His lecture on Primary and Secondary social groups states that they differ in their main characteristics, the function they serve for group members, and the group members dependence or relationship to one another. Primary groups are small in size as well as area. The membership is limited to a small number and is confined within small limits like in families, friends, and study groups. Secondary social groups are membership is widespread. It may contain thousands of members. People in the same secondary social group tend to have indirect or impersonal contact with other members. It is, usually, unintentionally formed not based on common interest but in the achievement of some recognized goal. Also people in the same secondary group are not connected by the process of achieving said goal, but the acquisition and completion of the goal. At Fairview,the goal is most commonly graduation. Ethnomethodology is the study of the norms that dictate social interaction.
When I asked students what social norms were at Fairview I was met with confused stares and lack of answers, however, when I asked how the social norms have changed there was a very clear answer. “What we think is normal has for sure changed a lot since freshman year. Both good and bad.” said ZB, “I feel we care a lot less about everything. But when drama starts, everyone gets involved and tends to make a bigger deal out of it than necessary.” This seems to be a common opinion in all the interviews conducted. In different terms, within our community there are accepted norms and values with reference to what the group holds as core values. There is a development of accepted penalties when norms are violated within a social group. As people develop their core values can evolve leading to a different social cohesion within a community. When prompted by questions relating what causes a mood shift within their social group the responses we’re all alarmingly similar. To paraphrase EVERY SINGLE interview- there are rules and obligations established within the group and one is expected to behave in a particular way and conform to fit a standard. If they break from the protocol within the group the atmosphere within the group can become standoffish, hostile, and sometimes even hateful.
Fairview, like many other high schools, has different social groups and varying norms and values within. However, there is a huge difference within the response and reactions that are received when one tries to separate from the norm. People do not feel comfortable and, to an extent, are scared to be different. Without an opportunity to stretch from the norm and become your own person it’s impossible to fully integrate successfully into society later in life. Being aware of how normalcy in your direct community affects social interaction is vital to being a fully developed person, and it is something that Fairview students lack.