Have you ever wanted to be "popular" on this site called Whyville? Be friends with those people who always whisper to each other at the Sun Roof, while you watch from the background enviously? You know them. You wish you could be friends with them.
After many years - and sometimes, that's all it takes - I have successfully obtained the title "popular". Not only that, I have acquired the skills to be one of the popular people on any website I go on. And now you can too.
Ladies and gents, this is Whyville Popularity: Revealed.
Now, if you are a Newbie, some 4 or 5 days old, this obviously does not apply to you - yet. As I previously said, you need to have some months (if not two or three years) under your belt before you even think about becoming popular. That's all it boils down to in Whyville - how "old" you are and who you know.
First of all, there is a certain personality amongst the popular Whyvillians. It's random but not too random, being able to spit out jokes - FUNNY jokes, mind you - at the drop of a hat. It's all about making people laugh. If you make them laugh, they'll want you around. If they want you around, sooner or later, they'll befriend you. It's simple math.
How are you able to get close enough to even attempt to throw jokes out at them? You write for the Times.
I'm not kidding.
If you have good writing skills, send in articles for the Times. Even then, they have to be not plain, but not controversial articles. You can't be making enemies before you even know them! Add some humor in your articles, because humor is everything in the Popular World. Once they comment, whether giving you criticism or praising you, talk back. Make them have a conversation with you! It gives you an excuse to talk to them in a chatroom.
Which brings me to my next subject: talking to the popular people in a chatroom. You've already made some contact through your HIGH-larious articles, and then you see them in a chatroom. GASP! What do you do? What do you SAY? You're going to choke - you can't think of anything witty!
Bring up something they've previously done, be it a Senate Platform or an article. Whether you thought it was crap or not: SUCK UP. That's it. Suck up and praise them. That gives you an opening to add another topic to talk about. What topic, you ask? How should I know? It depends on the person you're talking to entirely. I've made up my own; you can make up your own, too.
(RULES FOR TALKING: Don't say your age because you might be too young, don't introduce any controversial subjects, don't confess that you really REALLY like them, because that seems weird, don't say anything about yourself, and DON'T continue talking if they seem over it. Try another day.)
So you've talked. It went great! Unfortunately, they have to go - their mommies are calling them for dinner. Don't mail them immediately! That seems stalker-ish. Wait a couple of days, then mail, all the while still sending in appropriate articles. Say good-bye to your old Whyville friends because, heck, you're going to be POPULAR! You can't stand around waiting for those un-cool Newbies.
While you're waiting to become instant BFFs with your popular acquaintances, you can work on these things: Raising your salary, becoming a Newbie Helper, and actively - almost obsessively - playing temporary games (like Nim's and the Wells, for instance). Popular people always love those.
Let's say you are friends now, and they have even introduced you to their other popular friends. Great! But you still can't let go of the restrictions. DON'T start any arguments with ANYBODY you don't like. To them, you are a "Newb-popular". You basically have to play nice until you have seniority or face the beat down. DON'T criticize. Basically, suck up, but not too much.
As you can see, it's all very complicated. All the while, you suck up to people who are sometimes younger than you until you become, officially, "Popular". Then you suck up some more. Being yourself? Don't count on it. It's just the name of the game. If you really want to be popular, that is what it takes.
I've been there, done that. Once you become popular, nothing is the same. Sure, the perks are nice. Everyone knows you; you spend hours chatting with your "cool" friends. People envy you. You might even get fans! But, I've found that, through it all, it's really not all it's cracked up to be. You can't really be yourself, and sometimes you even change to be the person the popular people want you to be. If you have opinions, you had better hold them back. You can't go into a chatroom and talk to people normally anymore, either. That's right - no more "a/s/l?" That might be a "So what?" con, but it really takes a toll once it's been years. When you go into a chatroom you are bombarded with people saying "are you so-and-so?!" (No, I'm not so-and-so, because it's obviously not posted on my face). You have to be up-to-date with the fashions. You can't wear what you want to anymore. You turn into a fake.
So if you want to be popular, go ahead. You have the steps. If I could go back in time, though, I wouldn't.
Editor's Note: This is obviously going to be a very controversial article, but I thought it was an important subject to discuss in the Times. Popularity is something that we all deal with, in and out of Whyville. Can you be yourself and be popular? Is it worth it? How much does being popular affect your choices in life? Those are interesting questions to ask yourself. As always, please remain respectful in the BBS.