Saturday, July 11, 2009

On Being First

I've learned a lot of lessons in the classroom over the years. One of the first was the importance of being first. Kids love to be first, even if it's first to go somewhere they don't really want to go. My third graders prove this continually and no amount of rational argument will dissuade them. There is a good reason why teachers make their students line up in a certain order. I have, on occasion, been reminded of this reason.

"Okay, line up!" I might say, usually when we're late and we've got to get out of the gym and back to class because I have a test to give or something.

The kids sprint to the door, elbowing their best friends out of the way. They then stand not in a line but a cluster, jostling their way in front of others because even if they can't be first it's still better to be sixth than seventh.

"If you can't handle it, you're going to have to get in number order!" I screech. (Because sometimes I like to screech. Makes me feel more like a "real" teacher. You know, those old ones with the ugly sweaters, tote bags, and permanent scowls.)

The kids continue to push and shove and whatnot.

"Okay, that's it! Everyone in order!" I bellow. (Because that what I do when I'm serious. I bellow.)

And then they all blame each other.

It's one thing for third graders to exhibit this type of immature behavior; it's quite another for grown men and women who claim to be writers. In my travels across the Webosphere I have happened upon a disturbing trend. The trend is this:

Readers of popular blogs commenting about being the first to comment.

Kids--I mean, fellow writers--this is unacceptable behavior.

Why This Behavior is Unacceptable:

1. No one cares but you.
2. While #1 is true of most comments left on blogs, we can all at least pretend that we care about something with some actual, you know, substance.
3. What, are you eight years old?
4. You don't win anything for being the first commenter. (At least, not usually. And if you do win something for being first then there is really no need to brag about it because all other commenters will have already recognized your winning ways.)
5. It's stupid.

Oh, and here's evidence of what I'm talking about: Evidence

Steve Fuller, you are the biggest loser.


In other news, Monica has linked to a blogger who is donating a buck for every person who elects to follow her blog. Normally, I don't go in for such shameless bribery, but since it's a good cause I went ahead and followed. (I'm also kind of upset that I didn't think of it first.)


Anita said...

Yay! I may be first or close to it.

My oldest daughter cares nothing about being first. She allows everyone to cut ahead of her in every kind of scenario. We can watch her get on the school bus from our kitchen window and she is always last on, even if she was one of the first kids to show up. I can't let her eat school lunch, because she is always the last kid to get her food and then doesn't have time to eat (plus, I like making her eat what I pack). Buuut, the kid is definitely #1 in her class academically. And there's the whole religious "the last shall be first" thing, so....

Monica said...

dang it, i'm second. Thanks for linking to that link, PMM.

Myra said...

It always bothers the crud out of me when I see that, especially on professional blogs. It's like people asking an agent for a pat on the head as praise for their promptness. Like, don't writers have *other* stuff to do besides blog stalk?

Lily Cate said...

Go to the Onion's AV Club and see what happens to "firsties" there!

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Myra--I get the feeling that the vast majority of commenters on agent blogs honestly believe that their loyalty and frequent comments will somehow lead to a leg up in the search for representation.

Jacqui said...

Much of my parental and teacherly authority rests of the power of "first." As in, "First one upstairs gets to be first ... into the bath!" And voila. My bath-hating two year old barrels over his six year old sister and up the stairs in a flash.