I have to keep this vague so as not to even remotely implicate specific people, but over the weekend I went to my 20th high school reunion. I talked to some people who flabbergasted me with the complimentary things they said; I would have previously guessed that they kinda sorta knew who I was, but that was about it. Also, I talked to other people who were very defensive regarding people from other social circles, attributing motives to them that I knew just weren’t true.
When I stepped back and thought about it, what had happened is that one or two people from a given group had indeed been “jerks” (their critics would have used much stronger terms at the time, calibrated to the gender of the offender in question), and since these people were friends with a bunch of others, the recipient of the injustice/insult assumed the entire group endorsed it and thought the same thing. But no, that’s not really what happened.
I’m mostly bringing this up because I’m curious if any of you would report a similar epiphany. For example, if you vaguely remember, “Oh yeah, those guys were a bunch of a-holes,” is it because every single member of their group did something objectionable? Or if you think about it person by person, is it rather that you had a problem with one or two guys out of 20? And–if your walk down memory lane is like mine–is it that the 18 or 19 out of 20 were actually fine?
In full disclosure, I went to a private (Catholic) school so I realize my high school years were sheltered compared to those of many others. But I’m curious if any of you can change your memory of your teenage years just by thinking through your experiences with a blank slate and holding individuals accountable only for their own actions, not the actions of everybody who sat with them at lunch too.