waimea saidSince this topic has the highest chance of turning into a raging flame war, I'm leaving it for now right before I go away for two weeks.
Okay, maybe it's my wrong perception, but do you new guys feel that the KOOL kids, the "IN" crowd, on RJ won't talk to you? Sometimes you'll try to quote them, sometimes you might send them a message, and they either don't quote back or they don't message you back, and it is super frustrating. Then you start by guessing if it's because they haven't read it, or they dunno who you are, or it's because....you're fug!
I want to hear what the new people have to say, and the popular kids, you know who you are, please jump in and defend yourself whenever you feel like!
The OP has asked a serious question here, so I've given it some thought and written a serious answer. It may be TL;DR for some of you, in which case, feel free to not read it. But no need to post just to say "TL;DR."
My perspective so far (though I'm not sure that I qualify as "new" anymore) is that there is a group of people whom I tend to find some combination of mean-spirited, shallow, and/or generally not very bright, yet their approval and attention are highly sought-after, and their posts are given a great deal of attention. It puzzles me, but it doesn't bother me except from a signal-to-noise ratio standpoint.
In other words, it seems very much like high school. There's a core of people considered "popular" but who seem to lack most of the qualities I would want in regular interaction, and even have some qualities that I actively try to stay clear of. There's a middle ring of "wannabes," and an outer ring of sycophants. As in high school, I pretty much noted it as a funny sociological phenomenon and did my own thing. It wasn't sour grapes; I just really didn't care to know them as they didn't have anything to offer me, at least based on what they outwardly displayed. Here, I just hit "Ignore His Posts" when the signal:noise gets too high or someone is so mean-spirited and/or ignorant that I think it better for my blood pressure to not see what he says.
And, as in H.S., there are people who are not that je ne sais quois of "popular" but are so nice/eloquent/funny that they're well-liked by pretty much all the cliques. Meninlove come to mind immediately, though there are quite a few others.
I've tried to interact with a few on here who probably don't fit into the "cool crowd" but whose intellects I admired. When I get a lukewarm response (or none at all), I let it go. The alternative is to waste your precious energy and time on people who have chosen not to know you and will probably be even less inclined to if you pursue them relentlessly!
One final thought: you mentioned the "popular kids" having to "defend" themselves. I don't think there's a need for "defense" necessarily, as I don't see anything wrong per se with popularity. I just don't necessarily understand why this culture values "Jersey Shore" types over those who are thoughtful, deliberate, considerate, etc. But if you grow up in a society that values certain characteristics and rewards such people with money and/or attention, it's not exactly hard to be seduced by it and cultivate those qualities within yourself. And IMO, that's a deep loss for that person, because he may never get to see another way to be, and therefore will miss out on the richness life has to offer.