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dmmetler

Social thinking spin off question from DD

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DD wants to know “why do some people get social passes for behavior others cannot get away with, and it be considered funny or “that’s just so and so”-to the point that people who object are considered to be put of the loop, oversensitive, immature, or whatever? “

This is coming out of a situation in her cheer team (where the coach seems to believe that middle school age girls should be able to work out their social issues without any adult intervention whatsoever) where there is one kid who seems to get a complete social pass no matter how offensive what she says is, and DD, who has a natural tendency to stand up for the underdog (and relatively weak social communications skills-she may not technically have the DX, but in that regard, she functions much like someone with ASD1) ends up being the one who looks bad because she’s the one pointing out that “no, it’s not appropriate to call someone a “retard” “ (This one happened yesterday at the team party).

She commented that she just can’t see the piece of the puzzle that gives girl X that “license to be offensive” and can’t quite figure out why this kid seems to be liked, and have her own clique of allies despite a constant patter involving putting individuals and groups down.  

Any books I can hand her? 

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Sorry I don't have any suggestions but I turn 40 next year and still wonder the same thing. As a matter of fact I was just wondering the same thing just before I logged on. I am also suspected to have ASD/Asperger's and have worked on improving social skills and communication but it has always been a mystery to me why some neurotypical people are given a pass. I hope someone has some sort of book or website because I would be interested to know too.

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Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman, might help, in that it describes clique dynamics.  (It's an easy, fairly interesting read - I read it on a whim in my early 20s and it held my attention.)  It occurs to me that the reason could be as simple as higher-status people can get away with stuff that lower-status people can't.

I don't know if this is directly relevant, but it was a huge lightbulb to me wrt social dynamics - both understanding them *and* understanding how they could be a force for *good* (not just a stupid, catty game).  It's "Girl to Girl: Advice on Friendship, Bullying, and Fitting In", by Lisa Iland - a chapter in the book Aspergers and Girls.  It's based on advice that the author, a neurotypical girl, gave to her brother with Aspergers to help him nagivate teen social dynamics.  It revolutionized my understanding of how friendship works. 

Also, there's a difference I think between someone getting away with *transgressing* the usual rules, and someone getting away with overtly *enforcing* the usual rules.  People generally put up with bad behavior more than they do people reminding them to quit behaving badly.  IDK that it's very *fair*, but it seems to be quite consistent.  You see it all the time - the person blowing the whistle gets all the opprobrium, not the person who actually did the wrong thing.  Even the "can do anything" girl might find that reminding people to follow the rules wouldn't go over well even for her.  I think it takes a ridiculous amount of social skill and tact to tell people they are in the wrong and not have them get upset with you for it - that's far more rare than the "can do whatever wrong they want" people.  I think the usual socially-savvy play is to try to get people to quit doing the wrong thing without ever making a point of overtly *saying*, "stop it, 'cause it's wrong".  Often by making the wrong thing seem socially stupid/lowering, to remove the social cachet of being transgressive.

Your dd might just need to accept people don't like wrong stuff being pointed out, and not be surprised when it happens.  The world needs people who will say the hard truths.  Honestly, the more I understand social dynamics, the harder I find it to speak up - *because* I have a better idea of how people will react.  In my younger, less savvy days I spoke up a lot, in part because I was oblivious to the social pressure to not do it.  I inadvertently offended people right and left.  Now I offend less, and am more successful with the speaking up I do, but I do just speak up less.  It's harder to be brave when you truly know what you are up against.

Edited by forty-two
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I think there are a couple concepts to talk about — “in the small” the Queen Bees and Waana Bees” concept is good. When exploring out into larger circles, the concept of privilege helps. 

So, the kid at school who gets away with things because their parent is on the school board and they inherit privilege. And then their peers clue in to this students power and form a clique around him/her to have that power rub off on them.

And of course we can move out to privileges that you carry with you (or not) when out among relative strangers. An adult usually gets more respect than a child. If you seem to be of a certain race, religion, gender, level of wealth, level of education, and so forth, these things can be of benefit to you or not in your interactions in the world. In the workplace, a manager has power and privilege the rank and file do not.  A teacher in a classroom, the pastor in a church, and so on. 

When “so and so” gets away with things: are they packing some sort of privilege or less obvious power that others lack? 

 

 

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It's complicated, but my first thought is that this girl has been there longer than your daughter, and her friends are used to her. I'd also argue that humans build a lot of social capital via gossip and small talk - two things that I bet this girl does a lot of and your daughter doesn't.

Phrasing is also important. If you don't have the clout there's no particularly good way to say "That word is inappropriate", but there's a whole host of really bad ones. For a group of teens and preteens, a peer saying it just like that is just not going to be heard, because the register is inappropriately formal. (As an autistic individual, I'm convinced that being unable to switch register correctly is an enormous social problem... but not one that many NT adults (or, for that matter, many autistics) seem prepared to recognize. I can expand a bit on this if you like, but most of it is self-evident once people think about it a little.) It would be like suddenly referring to her teammates as Miss Lastname instead of Nickname. It's just weird, and it marks you as part of the out-group, not part of the in-group which I'd guess has defined itself in part by criticizing others, criticizing those who don't correctly adhere to group norms, and using words that are frowned upon by adult society.

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Register can definitely be an issue. DD spends most of her life with college students and grad students, and most of that in the classroom and field research. She’s gotten better at sounding like she swallowed a dictionary, but she kind of comes off like Hermione at the beginning of the series. The fact that she gets paid to teach and leads a local club doesn’t help any with code shifting, because there are times that she is leading a group of kids including some older than she is where it IS her role to state what is and is not appropriate speech. She reminds me a lot of the Cady character at the beginning of “Mean Girls”-trying to analyze and understand the behavior of the kids around her based on her knowledge of animal behavior (her biggest area of interest) and her college psychology classes (she’s getting her AS in psych, mostly because she wants to understand people). We have “Queen Bees and Wannabees” and a few books on middle school psychosocial development designed for teachers, so that gives her a place to start. 

 

I think just accepting that she doesn’t have the social capital/standing to correct anyone, and that she has to leave it to those who do may be the best choice-basically, she’s a lower status animal at the watering hole, so act accordingly. 

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I’d think it’s because the other girls don’t want to get on Miss Bully’s bad side.  It’s all a power game.  Miss Bully is willing to do whatever it takes to take another girl down and they all know it.  So, it’s better to leave Miss Bully alone being a bully than to call her out on it and have her go after you. 

I’m finding that’s how people in true power remain in power.  Think of dictators.  They’re ruthless and will kill you if you get in their way.  So, no one stops the Napoleans and Mussolinis and Stalins of the world because those people will do *anything* to remain in power. If you’re willing to do anything to get power, then people will stay out of your way and let you take it.

Miss Bully is just like that, but on a smaller level.  Standing up to Miss Bully means she will reciprocate in a much more vicious way than you might be willing/able to withstand.

Edited by Garga
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There are a lot of reasons in general that this can happen including all the ones given above, and probably more also. 

Your daughter almost certainly won’t be able to change the people in her group.

 

She may be able to change herself so that she’s happier with the situation.  

 

Charisma can be increased and there are books on doing that, but I don’t have a specific title suggestion for a teen.  The Charisma Myth could be worth looking at, and maybe would bring up more titles.  

The Social Skills Guidebook by Chris McCleod(?) could be worth a look. 

I also don’t know how it would be for a teen, but I saw part of a CreativeLive program called Unf*ck Your Relationships that I thought was excellent, superb.  Language (as you may gather from title) might be an issue for you and her.  

Reading or watching some comedy that doesn’t fit your daughter’s usual ideas of what is funny, and considering how it might be perceived as funny by people who find it so might also help.  

For writing purposes, I’m analyzing a Stephanie Plum mystery with a small writing group. It has a lot of comedy, some of which is not “politically correct” and some of what makes it funny is not being “politically correct.”   And no doubt many people find it very offensive, but enough find it funny to allow them to be best sellers.  One thing I would say is that there is a sense of fun and big heartedness behind the humor.  

Checking her own internal language about the other girls might also be helpful.  She would not call anyone a “retard” in words out loud, but what is she saying in her own mind about the other girls?  “TeA obsessed”? “Unintelligent”? “Offensive “? 

For the specific situation it could  be useful to have a video and be able to see afterwards whether anything can be identified that can be modified by your daughter other than simply not criticizing what others are doing.

Sometimes shyness can look like standoffishness.  Or trying to stand up for an underdog group can look like bossiness.  

She can’t do anything about disparities in socioeconomic status. And she doesn’t want to dress more like the other girls. But there may be things like a happy smile on social pass girls faces that can be copied, and that she would be willing to change about herself to fit in better.

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5 hours ago, Pen said:

on social pass girls faces that can be copied, and that she would be willing to change about herself to fit in better.

 

It also could be that it just isn’t her “tribe”. 

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On 12/17/2018 at 10:49 AM, forty-two said:

force for *good* (not just a stupid, catty game).  It's "Girl to Girl: Advice on Friendship, Bullying, and Fitting In", by Lisa Iland - a chap

 

This sounds interesting, I could not find it. What is the first letter of last name? i? 

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I still have no clue with this. I actually observed this exact behavior today with a young teen kid that seemed a social leader and he was saying very offensive cruel gossipy things about another kid that was not there and their chosen activity. The coach was there nearby in the room and had to have heard it because it was plenty loud but they do not get involved. The other kids were not really adding to it but not speaking up or disagreeing either. If someone spoke up they would get crap over it. The coach in other ways did not really seem to have the kids behavior under control. I really never understand how that type of behavior is what kids flock around and is so popular. Growing up I was one they gossiped about. I need to read some of the books mentioned in this thread.

Edited by MistyMountain
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6 hours ago, MistyMountain said:

I still have no clue with this. I actually observed this exact behavior today with a young teen kid that seemed a social leader and he was saying very offensive cruel gossipy things about another kid that was not there and their chosen activity. The coach was there nearby in the room and had to have heard it because it was plenty loud but they do not get involved. The other kids were not really adding to it but not speaking up or disagreeing either. If someone spoke up they would get crap over it. The coach in other ways did not really seem to have the kids behavior under control. I really never understand how that type of behavior is what kids flock around and is so popular. Growing up I was one they gossiped about. I need to read some of the books mentioned in this thread.

 

The followers get a sense of power by aligning with the leader and participating in bashing of the leader's competition.  

One way to declare neutrality is to get the leader on the side, and quietly put a stop to it -- use appeal to morality of using cowardly tactics.  "Susie, why are you spending so much time bashing Mary? Mary's parents decide what she wears. She has no choice.  Is that the type of person you really want to be?" then invoke leadership by firmly stating 'Susie, we are team. We need to support each other'.  walk off, no discussion.

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First practice back, and really, really tough. It’s hard enough being a middle school age girl in a cliquey, competitive environment. It’s nearly impossible being one who just doesn’t think the same way-but who definitely gets no “passes”. 

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On 12/17/2018 at 10:19 AM, dmmetler said:

she’s the one pointing out that “no, it’s not appropriate to call someone a “retard” “ (This one happened yesterday at the team party).

 

Was the the girl actually calling someone a "retard"? Whether to their face or not, that's terrible!  Standing up for someone like that as your daughter did is not always rewarded this side of heaven, but it is rewarded eventually!  I have no idea if you are a Christian or not, but the narrow gate and wide gate parable may apply in situations like this.

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On 12/30/2018 at 9:25 PM, dmmetler said:

First practice back, and really, really tough. It’s hard enough being a middle school age girl in a cliquey, competitive environment. It’s nearly impossible being one who just doesn’t think the same way-but who definitely gets no “passes”. 

 

Its a learned skill.  My dc had the same thing in high school sports...they end up learning how to handle jerks and narcissists well enough that their performance isnt sabotaged.

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Well, social pass girl broke her ankle. And perhaps coincidentally, suddenly the team seems to be working together much better. 

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The girl who was making rude comments and generally stirring the pot more than a bit. DD commented that it was kind of the definition of poetic justice, since this girl was very critical about kids who wouldn’t “just throw” skills in team practice  that they were working on in tumbling classes or private lessons-when the tumbling coaches usually advise against “just throwing” skills you do not have solidly without a spot, or throwing skills you have on one surface on a different one without having done it with a coach there initially. (And DD is cautious to the extreme).

 

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