Thursday, May 13, 1999

Cyber Cliques

by Zoe Sanderson

It may show my '80s teenage years a little too forcefully, but I remember watching a sitcom called Square Pegs, which apart from the distinction of having Devo appear, addressed a subject that of late has been a topic on several boards -- cliques (or as you Americans say, clicks).

I'm not going to touch on the reasons for why it's been a topic of discussion because they are too painful for us all. However, the idea that cliques, or tribes, exist seems to be something that makes people uncomfortable. But, guys, these groups appear everywhere -- be it in high school, on the street, in boardrooms, and even on the message boards at The Motley Fool.

I found the Fool when I was researching financial websites and communities for work purposes. And I was delighted to find so many like-minded people in such a place. It didn't take me long to find distinctive personality types on the boards, too -- there are bullies, nurturers, educators, students, leaders, and followers amongst us all. There's even competition between boards and an overwhelming desire to beloved and popular.

People have been accused of various -isms because they have established break-away boards such as Woman's Own. I frequently lurk, and sometimes post on that board, but it doesn't mean I hate men. In fact, anyone who visits La Maison Derri�re d'Amanda will know that's the opposite! But I do enjoy discussing certain things with other women and I am grateful that there is a place for me to do so. There's also a little pocket called the Tag Heuer board where I can discuss art and literature, post poems, or talk philosophically.

Sound familiar? It's not so different from high school really, yet we are of different ages and socio-economic groups; we're males, females, parents, and children with diverse experiences. I am happy that I have a place to visit, to talk, to laugh, to learn, to feel down, or to share a problem. It's a human need, to find somewhere that we belong, where we can be ourselves, where can be different. By rebelling and becoming Punks, Goths, Homies or whatever, teenagers are, in fact, becoming part of something, rejecting those that leave them out.

At school I was never one of the popular girls -- my niche and social group was outside of school. I was more Molly Ringwald than cheerleader (not that we had those in England, but the principle's the same). But I've done well, and here at the Fool I've found a diverse group of people that I would have never met otherwise and I'm thankful. I may not agree with everything posted, or even like everyone, nor will I ever be as popular as IFindKarma, but this is a clique that I am proud to be a part of.

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