I blame Twitter.

Years after I strolled across the stage at my high school graduation free from the soul-crushing pressure of cliques, it seems like times haven’t changed as much as I’d hoped.

I should have known. Whenever groups of people share the same space, someone is bound to be left on the outside. But cliques are so high school, right?

As grown ups we are too mature, too cultured, too full of confidence to succumb to the pressure of rolling with a superficial crew—or so we thought—until one day you realize you’re right back where you started from.

People are social creatures. We thrive on interaction with others, and for the most part, we gravitate toward those of like mind and temperament. Sure, loners exist, but even they tend to clique up and be “alone” together, so it makes sense. Our attraction to others like us. But more and more people have become increasingly mean (or perhaps increasingly public with their meanness), and it’s got me wondering what the hell is really going on.

#teamlightskin and #teamdarkskin are just the latest examples of how trying to belong to the cool kids club can go really wrong. Although a lot of people participating in the hashtags were just riding for their respective complexions and saying funny things like, “I know I’m not the only one with a red nose and ears,” others used the hashtags to poke fun of and continue perpetrating divisive behaviors among Black folk.

But it’s not just issues of skin color that have divided people along artificial lines, the Internet, and Twitter especially, lends itself to a special kind of clique, the twitterati.

The twitterati are composed of popular tweeters (or bloggers) and those who love them. I confess, I follow a pretty dope crop of people on Twitter. The conversations I’ve had with many of them have been nothing short of amazing. But I’ve also seen what happens when say, a popular blogger or tweeter, gets a comment they find out of pocket. In one short tweet, a whole slew of their followers will gang up on the (sometimes) unsuspecting commenter and they’ll become the butt of many, many @ reply jokes. No bueno.

Whenever I see someone ‘going in’ on a person they’ve never seen or even know personally, I always wonder….is the Internet turning us all into mean girls (and boys), or is our innate nastiness just now coming to light.

What say you, Clutchettes and Gents?

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