By Boot Bullwinkle:
While pop polls can come across as entertaining and rewarding, the award is actually detrimental to the supportive environment that Gunn tries to build. Each year, as September comes around, seniors are all in a flutter about the Olympian’s pop polls. But what’s the benefit to this excitement?
Gunn fosters a community that is inclusive and respectful of all races, genders and social classes. It certainly does not promote social hierarchy and inequality within the school atmosphere. However, the Olympian’s publishing of pop polls goes against this philosophy, as it elevates an individual to a higher level, leaving others sometimes feeling inferior.
As adolescents, we are in a constant battle to achieve and maintain popularity. Being appreciated is a quality that only a few achieve, but with this constant struggle comes social cruelty.
[pullquote]Pop polls are a form of exclusion that push the winners to the top of popularity charts and the runners-up to the bottom of the barrel. The yearbook should spark happiness for students, not fuel the flame of popularity.[/pullquote]
Pop polls are a form of exclusion that push the winners to the top of popularity charts and the runners-up to the bottom of the barrel. The yearbook should spark happiness for students, not fuel the flame of popularity.
While winners may be deserving of this recognition, Gunn is home to almost 2,000 creative minds and individuals. Every person is deserving of a profile, but sometimes it takes a deeper level of understanding to find the story. Instead of simply looking at the outside cover of an individual, why not use the extra space in the yearbook to share a person’s story? Sure, everyone knows that she is the most attractive girl in the school, but there’s an inner beauty within everyone that is far more enlightening and entertaining to the student body.
Then there are the offensive pop polls—the pop polls that no one wants to win as they highlight an individual’s less desirable qualities. The yearbook is supposed to be a compilation of the best times of the year, not a creator of social pariahs for the school’s amusement. The pop poll can be rejected, but the damage is already done. The school knows who won the “award,” and so does the “winner.”
Because of previous years’ success, the yearbook seems to have been caught up in the commotion without realizing the repercussions. There is no blame in the situation, only a problem—a problem that can be fixed next year if the use of pop polls is properly examined with regards to their necessity to the yearbook.
I do see the fun side of pop polls and how they’re entertaining to the student body. The joy of seeing a friend with their picture at the end of the year is a priceless memory for the reader, and it’s a great way to remember someone years in the future.
However, it’s naïve to think that a superficial form of entertainment is more important than the internal feelings of an exploited or dejected individual. Hopefully the Olympian will be more aware of people’s emotions when designing pop polls in years to come.
Especially at Gunn, where equality and acceptance are fostered throughout all genders, ethnicities, social classes and personalities, there is no reason for a publication to work against those efforts for the amusement and entertainment of the student body. There are much better uses for the space in the yearbook that can be just as exciting, and plenty more beneficial.