For the prompt: Popular
From: Popularity Contest <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: 1 April 2017 23:22
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Congratulations on your successful entry into the Popularity Contest™! We pride ourselves on our 100% approval rating, having never turned anyone down for participation. I imagine you must be wracking your brain, trying to remember when you applied but let me put your mind at ease. You didn’t! Applications are received from the moment you are registered as a human being; however, notification is only communicated once you hit secondary school. Because that’s when it really begins to matter, you see.
Before you scroll down to the bottom of this email for the ‘Unsubscribe’ link, please note that this is not an option. And while you may mark this as Spam and decline to receive further updates from us, please also note that this does not in any way remove you as a participant in the Popularity Contest™.
So what is the Popularity Contest™?
An excellent question! To put it simply, it’s a contest wherein you are judged by a party of your peers – all your peers, in fact – to determine who is the most popular. But here’s the neat little twist…You are able to judge them right back! And to make things even more unpredictable and exciting, there is no set criteria! What you may judge people on may be completely different to how others judge you. Now this may sound somewhat unfair and you may be wondering how exactly you can win this contest without knowing what standards you need to be meeting. But I have good news for you, contestant.
There is no winner!
That’s right, there is no overall winner to the Contest™, that would be impossible. But there certainly can be losers and you don’t want that to be you, do you? So we’ve compiled some helpful advice for you in this first email to aid you in traversing through this contest.
Top Tips to Becoming Popular
- Dress Down Days – Oh boy, these can be a prime opportunity to gain Popularity Points* but also a prime opportunity to lose them. Brush up on what’s fashionable, plan your outfit in advance, if this isn’t the first DDD you’ve had, make sure you don’t wear the same thing you did last time!
- Keep Calm and Carrier On – Sometimes you can’t fit everything in your bag or backpack so you’ll need to utilise a carrier bag. But what is the right carrier bag to use? People are going to be looking and judging. Anything low budget and people will sneer but anything too upmarket and you’re going to alienate the peers you are trying to win over. Really overthink this.
- Fandom Frenzy – You have an interest in something. That’s great! But is it ‘cool’? You don’t want to be walking around wearing some kind of memorabilia for a show or movie that’s out of date or considered unpopular. That’s a sure-fire way of losing points!
- Teacher’s Pet – A tricky one this. There’s the old adage that no-one likes a teacher’s pet. We’ll leave you to do with that what you like.
That should be a good start! You’re well on your way to becoming popular and advancing in this contest. Are there any prizes, I hear you ask? Well, popularity, of course. Is that not enough? What could be more important than acceptance from your peers? You may not know their names but it would be nice if they knew yours, right? And the good news is that they are thinking the exact same thing!
You can, of course, ignore your participation in this Contest™, though it won’t stop others from judging your level of popularity for themselves. And while school is often the most intense period, the Contest™ is a never-ending source of fun to enjoy for the rest of your life!
Be sure to mark all emails from Popularity Contest™ as ‘Not Spam’ to continue receiving our top tips and change up your personality to suit the current trends, ensuring you keep on top of the popularity food chain.
Welcome aboard, contestant! And good luck.
The Popularity Contest™ Team
*Points tally not available to the public.
When I was in school, all of these thoughts went through my head. I wasn’t a popular kid but I also wasn’t unpopular. I had my group of friends and we were a good group. But part of me always wanted acceptance and acknowledgement from the ‘popular’ kids. How did I quantify who the popular kids were? I honestly don’t even know. It’s something you just take for granted. It’s the kids that everyone wants to be friends with. But who’s to say any of those kids weren’t looking over at us and thinking the same thing?
I used to hate dress down days to the point that I’d consider going off sick to avoid it all together. The pressure to be accepted by the majority was too much. I used to have a South Park backpack because it was the ‘popular’ show at the time. I had never watched a single episode of South Park. I used to get mocked for carrying my PE kit around in a Co-op carrier bag but when I used my Disney World carrier bag, I got accused of showing off. It’s almost as if this is a contest that can’t be won…
And the sooner I realised that, the better things were. Because it doesn’t matter what people think. I know it’s easy to say that and there are always – always – going to be situations where you want to impress people and gain their acceptance. But trust me, it’s not worth changing yourself for. Just be yourself and you’ll be popular with the people who matter.
You can’t control what other people think about you, but you also don’t have to care. To hell with the popularity contest. File that straight into your Spam folder.