Because I rocked the boat too much.
Still do, actually. Seen my homenode on here? Under "mission drive within everything," what have I put? "Turning your sacred cows into inexpensive hamburger meat," that's what. It's a fault I've ever had, still have, and refuse to get out of because the more I think about it, the more it's not a fault, but society as a whole seems to think that it is a fault.
When I was eighteen years old, so around ten years ago now, the school I went to, a state grammar school for boys only ascribed to that wonderful and storied American rite of teenage passage, The Prom. We also subscribed to that time honoured British school tradition of having Head Boy. He's basically the head honcho of all the prefects, although that storied title had been well devalued. The powers that be picked, of a school year of 180 souls, 170 to be considered as prefects, which I didn't figure into (in the words of the headmaster, there were some people who "we do not want as prefects under any circumstances.") and of those, 130 became prefects. This was basically to pad our UCAS forms, now I think about it. Anyhow. The Head Boy was some blond kid called Edward who was smart but, for better or worse, a Kool Aid drinker. Myself and my pals reckoned that he'd been generated in the basement as the replicant yes-man of the powers that be and, having just seen the Rocky Horror Show, noted that he had short blonde hair and reckoned that he therefore had no navel, like Rocky (who had no navel because he was brewed in a tank as opposed to being born like a real person). The fact remained he hadn't an original thought in his head. I could not for the life of me see any logical reason why people liked him so much and thought he was such a cool person and things. I thought he was, well, a bit boring really.
Anyhow. He was trying to sell us The Prom. He did this by reading something he'd written about what it'd be like. It went something like this: "The cool evening breeze shifts the treetops as you approach the hall. Waiting for you is your gorgeously beckeded lady friend, resplendent in her prom dress as she greets you and takes your arm." He carried on in this vein for some time. I began to cringe inwardly. This had to be stopped, I thought. I was also carrying around a massive helping of general bitterness in any event, so I decided to make with the hecklement.
He went on. "Into your hand is placed a crystal flute of that ambrosia of the Gods - "
"ABSINTHE!!!!" I bawled out. "And it'll probably be served in a plastic glass anyhow you lying toerag."
Cue laughs from some people who were thinking exactly what I was thinking. Not all of them I necessarily hung out with, for the record. But there were a lot of hostile glances from other people.
It went on. He started going on about how the hall would find itself "transformed! into - " Ah, that's my cue! "a school hall with badly cut out decorations." By the time he got to the importation of that nauseating seppo custom of Prom King & Queen (which I heckled as "Brown Noser of the Century Award") the head of sixth form stage-whispered to me to shut up, and Ed took the hint and cut the speech before he could get on to driving his date home and I corrected it with some sort of unpleasantness about ploughing her like a particularly stony field until she squeaked like an un-oiled hinge.
Got some sniffy comments from my compatriots after this but I ignored them.
I got a ticket and went to the prom, alone (Mentalist Tsundere Hellbitch was having yet another snit.) It was rotten. I hurt my shoulder attempting to swing dance, ended up being photographed looking like a sex offender, went home, alone, and wondered what the big fuss was. I was right about the plastic glasses though. And the champers that was put in it was a job lot of soon to be out of date Moet that they got cheap off a local offie. Tasted like the armpit of an IRA prisoner on dirty protest. Also as I expected. They didn't do the King and Queen stuff, thankfully, probably because they realised what an idiotic idea it is, but they did rinse me £25.00 for a ticket, so more fool me.
(Yes, for the record, I was being an insufferable wank basket. But frankly, so would you be if you'd been there and listened to Ed's pseudish drivel. Incidentally, now this Ed character is a "Business Development and Digital Marketing Strategist" in New York, so I suppose he bullshits for a living.)
But this wasn't the first time I'd gone out my way to rock the boat. Throughout my teenage years I observed the stuff that teenagers get up to, and although I understood what they were doing, I could never understand WHY they were doing it. People on sports teams were routinely held up as some sort of idol. Why was this. So they ran into each other on a rugby field. This makes them better people, does it? How does this make them worthy of any sort of adulation that one's compatriots pour onto them. Speaking of which, why do I have to pick a football team and support it? What's wrong with not following the Premier League? Aged 14, one person I knew started making a song and dance about my lack of something called "street cred" which was gained by putting product into one's hair and wearing specific varieties of designer jeans. I didn't fall for it, because even at that daft age I was savvy enough to know that as soon as I got into it, the "in" thing would mysteriously change, so what was the bloody point. I said as much to him and he decided that from then on, I was worthy only of derision.
There are various other examples. Being told that the reason people don't like me is because "you never give a straight answer; you always say something smart-arsed." A sentiment echoed by my father later on when trying to explain how I couldn't have broken the optical drive on the home PC by installing or using other software, but that's beside the point. "You need to stop overthinking everything." The above mentioned Ed had previously entered into a rant at me about how I needed to "stop trying to put the world to rights" when I objected to the school pimping out its wall space for advertising. Or trolling up the Monday morning bull sessions in which we all lied about the volume of flange sliding down our poles by saying that it didn't count towards the four hours solid that you boned this girl the three hours fifty six it took you to get it up.
What you will have noticed from all this isn't the Powers That Be in schools and suchlike that forced upon me this stuff. It was my fellow teenagers. I think that fundamentally, most teenagers know that the stuff that "normal" and Popular teenagers do is, fundamentally, all bollox. The world of fashion and trends, for instance, is written on water and I think they know it. Which celebrities are in could well be decided by throwing darts, blindfolded, at a rotating board. What to listen to this week. The concept that folks on school sports teams are some sort of ubermensch. I think they all know that there is no good reason for any of this, fundamentally, but wilfully ignore it, because they've invested so much time and effort and ego into it that to climb down now and admit it's all nonsense would be a humiliation. A loss of face. Also, I think the top echelon of popular kids, the alpha teenagers if you will, know that if their underlings realise that their social capital relies upon the admiration of the next row down, then they'll no longer be at the top of the tree and will not reap the benefits of being in their lofty position any more, so they have to try to keep everyone else in line somehow, and they do this by violence and threats of violence to try to dissuade any dissent, or ostracism to stop the rot before it spreads.
Also, ever noticed that it's never the really popular kids that dole out the bullying to the misfits and oddballs and the Not Popular? No, it's the ones in the middle. The really popular kids don't need to dirty their hands in this manner. They know that there'll be legions of middlingly-popular kids who will bully the Not Popular for them in order to have sempai notice them.
So people like me, who rock the boat, who heckle the self-serving idiocy and pointless speechifying of those who are Popular, who see through their bollox, who ask questions and don't accept things because they're told them and who take "it's like that" as the non-answer that it is, are a serious threat, because if people start taking them seriously, then their social standing will crumble like the house built on sand that it is. At the time, I was reading the Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. In it, there's a colony of dwarves who live on the continent of Drevlin and spend their entire lives in an almost religious service to a giant continent-spanning machine called the Kicksey-winsey. Nobody knows what the Kicksey-winsey does, just that it has to be served and maintained, the pressure valves opened, the surfaces wiped, the boilers well stoked with coal, and similar, and that one day, if they are worthy and faithful in their service, their gods will take the people of Drevlin up to heaven. Indeed, so ingrained is the Kicksey-winsey and its maintenance into their society that when one Limbeck Bolttightner asks, "why?" about the Kicksey-winsey, it is considered a capital offence because it might lead others to question why they do this, and their whole society will come crashing down about their ears.
So too is it a capital offence in the mind of a teenager to question why things are, in case they have to re-evaluate their world view and suffer such a massive ego blow. The same reason, incidentally, why the fanboy mentality exists.
Incidentally, you may think leaving school and getting to university will help. You are wrong. University students are just the same. Sorry to prick your balloon, but they are. It's just that there's several different streams of groupthink and popularity food chains within them as opposed to just one monolithic one. The Social Justice Warrior types and the hipster types are just as bad as the braying red trousers crowd.
This then brings me onto the next question. Given that everyone - people my own age, my mother (who once said that the worst thing you can ask anyone is "why?" - an assessment that I'm not sure I agree with, to be fair), my driving instructor (who used to grill me about all this while it was going on), my father (a person who, if he died and I had to work out what to put on his gravestone, I'd plump for "Don't argue" because that was all he said, seemingly), even my grandmother (who still looks at me in a frightened manner from time to time and despairs at how I used to be "lovely" but now am "all argumentative") - has said that I should accept things and not question them all the time if I want to be liked, why don't I do it?
Well, the answer is very simple. Because I am an honest person. Hiding what I really think about something I find unpleasant and not objecting to it gives the impression that I somehow approve of it. If I had a client who came in and wanted me to run a case or argument that was clearly nonsense and unarguable, I'd have to tell them this, or I'd be doing them a disservice. I am also not a brown noser. Brown nosing makes me physically ill, both to do and to watch. I'd rather be known for being someone who can solve problems, not as someone who everyone likes. Men didn't land on the moon by being well liked. Similarly, I don't prevent the local Council from stuffing up homeless people by being fashionable or knowing how to make people like me. I know for a fact that I have a bit of a reputation in my local area as a person who can solve problems.
But then again, I look at what the people who were Popular are doing. One of them is a PR man for a Premiership football club. He makes vast sums of money and seems content with his lot. Incidentally, I spoke to him fairly recently and found him about as welcome in my life as blood on the toilet paper. Constantly crowing about his LOADSAMONEY and how he basically gets paid to go and get drunk and party. He also doesn't have an original thought in his empty head. In short, he is a cunt, he always was a cunt, and he always will be a cunt, and he is too much of a cunt to know how cunty he really is. However he earns stupendous amount of money and is evidently successful in relationships. And it's all because he's good at brown nosing and mouthing insincere platitudes.
Meanwhile, I'm parked up in a house in Devon and terminally short of cash, a place I never intended to be, thanks to my inability to manage a relationship with a drunkorexic. But I tell you this, I am good at what I do in the world of litigation. Although if I can't even have a Maddox-style "that's right, asshole, bag my groceries" moment on account of being so, what does it matter in the real world how good I am at it.
I suppose, though, that if any of the folks who are Popular and used to bully me on account of me being Not Popular come through my door, for whatever reason, I'll have to content myself by suddenly increasing my hourly rate to represent them.
Though I will say this. If you're a teenager and reading this, then you should question things more. Everything should be questioned. Do your own research. And don't just believe the first Google result you get either; check its sources (and if it's Natural News or Mercola or Green Med Central or Get out of debt free arsehole it immediately). Demand sources for everything. And above all, always break the circle jerk. You will be hated. But these are skills that are admirable and useful in adult life.