The Harbinger Online

Breaking Boundaries Over Breakfast

By now you’ve probably seen it. The weird camera angles. The barely-audible interview. The awkward homecoming proposal. Yeah, I’m the guy from the video announcements. The “social barriers” guy. Yeah, my interview was pretty awkward, and yes, I asked a girl to homecoming with a cheesy line and an unintentionally creepy smile, but I really don’t want to be known for that. I’d much rather you know me for the club I was trying to promote.

Unfortunately though, my appearance on the video announcements didn’t do a very good job of promoting it. In fact, if you heard about the Breakfast Club for the first time on the announcements, you likely still have no clue what it’s about. So let me explain:

For those of you who have never heard of it, or just don’t know what it is, the Breakfast Club is a club devoted to the promotion of social tolerance and understanding and dedicated to the elimination of the unspoken social barriers that exist at East. In layman’s terms, it’s a club that encourages everyone to be friends with everyone and fights against unofficial social rules that divide everyone.

You might contend that such a club is unnecessary here at Shawnee Mission Wonderful. That our school isn’t the same as high schools depicted in movies and TV shows. That here at East we don’t have a clique problem. That Lancers don’t bully other Lancers. But you’d be wrong. Sure, East may have less problems with social divisions and intolerance than other schools, but it still faces such problems.

My therapist parents have always described their clients’ frustrations with unspoken rules, or norms, which serve to divide people, perpetuate existing cliques and limit social activity. As a kid, whenever I would voice my frustrations about social cliques or restrictions, my parents would remind me that there were others who felt the same way.

For years I didn’t believe them, but my experience on the staff of the Harbinger opened my eyes. The Harbinger showed me a group of people from all different social groups that coalesced so well my parents’ words suddenly seemed believable. But the question remained: if these kids got along so well on staff, why weren’t they friends in the first place? Why were they each in separate social groups? With these questions on my mind, I began to examine the whole problem of social cliques from a sociological perspective.

I decided that social division isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it’s necessary. You’re never gonna fit the whole school at your lunch table or have everyone you know over after the football game Friday night. You can try, but it’s not gonna end well. We have to divide sometimes because total inclusion is a logistical impossibility. It is only when we repeatedly divide by the same lines that social division becomes a problem. And that’s exactly what we do. After all, we’re creatures of habit. We don’t mix it up as much as we like to think we do.

So we divide, and we divide the same way at every given opportunity, and eventually we become enclosed within our own divisions, our social groups. Through these groups, we trap ourselves in and shut others out. It comes by naturally. Want proof? Just try sitting with a different table at lunch sometime. Your presence would be more than awkward. It would be almost unwelcome. Although there isn’t any real reason you can’t sit with a group of friends outside your own, it’s still a social faux pas to do so. Why? Because such an act is random, it’s uncommon and most importantly, it defies the unspoken social code.

And once I realized all of this, I made a decision that has completely altered my course at East. I decided I was going to break that social code. I realized that that unspoken social code — that set of rules, of social norms, of do’s and do-not’s — never does any real good.

So I decided to break that social code. I couldn’t do it alone. I can’t do it alone. No one can. The only way to generate social change is through the application of group-think. That’s what the Breakfast Club is for. Inspired by the movie of the same name and its anti-clique message, it’s a club for anyone who’s ever wished they could break free of social restrictions. It’s a club for anyone who’s always struggled to make friends. It’s a club that gives like-minded people the chance to come forward and admit they want things to change.

Most importantly, it’s a club for all of the above and more. The Breakfast Club, true to its nature, is a club for everyone. So although we are currently looking for a new sponsor, I extend to all my readers an official invite to join our cause. Just look for our group page on Facebook and request to join.

I like to tell my members that breaking social barriers is a lot like dancing. No one wants to do it alone with all eyes on them. But one lone dancer can start a snowball effect of dancing. I’m trying to be that lone dancer, but I need people to follow me for this dance to begin. So join me. Join the Breakfast Club.

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