When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity. This was easy to do, because kids only ate lunch with others of about the same popularity. We graded them from A to E. A tables were full of football players and cheerleaders and so on. E tables contained the kids with mild cases of Down's Syndrome, what in the language of the time we called "retards."当我们还是初中生的时候,我和好朋友Rich一起做了一张午餐座位图,这个是依据每个学生受欢迎程度的。这个很容易做,因为大家总是和与自己具有相似欢迎度的孩子一起吃午餐。我把他们分为A到E组。A组都是足球健将和拉拉队员之类的。E组都是有轻微程度的唐氏综合征的孩子,用那时候的话来说,我们叫他们“智障”。
We sat at a D table, as low as you could get without looking physically different. We were not being especially candid to grade ourselves as D. It would have taken a deliberate lie to say otherwise. Everyone in the school knew exactly how popular everyone else was, including us.我们坐在D桌,这已经是长得正常的孩子能分到的最低的桌子了。我们并非是想要把自己分到D组,而是我们别无选择。每个人都在学校知道其他人究竟是不是受欢迎的,这当然包括我们。
My stock gradually rose during high school. Puberty finally arrived; I became a decent soccer player; I started a scandalous underground newspaper. So I've seen a good part of the popularity landscape.我的身份在高中逐步提升了,青春期的生活终于到来了:我成为了一个合格的足球运动员,我还做了一个蛮丢人的地下报纸。所以我感受过受欢迎情况下的那种美好的感觉。
I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular.我认识很多当年在学校是书呆子的人,他们都告诉我一样情况:聪明的孩子和书呆子往往是等同的,而比这更明显的是书呆子和受到欢迎几乎毫不相关。似乎聪明就意味着让你自己变得不受欢迎。
Why? To someone in school now, that may seem an odd question to ask. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be any other way. But it could. Being smart doesn't make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why?为什么呢?对于某个中学在校生,这似乎是个很蠢的问题。这一事实已经变得如此正常,以至于如果情况与此不同反而会让我们觉得很奇怪。但这种情况确实是存在的。聪明并不会让你在小学被孤立。它也不会在现实世界里成为问题。而且,据我所知道的,这个问题在大多数其他国家也没有那么糟糕。但是,在一个典型的美国中学,聪明很可能让你的生活变得如此困难。 这到底是为什么?
The key to this mystery is to rephrase the question slightly. Why don't smart kids make themselves popular? If they're so smart, why don't they figure out how popularity works and beat the system, just as they do for standardized tests?若要寻找这一令人困惑的现象的关键,只需稍微改一下这个问题。不聪明的孩子,为什么不想办法让自己受欢迎?如果他们真的那么聪明,他们为什么尝试不弄清楚受欢迎的诀窍,打破这种模式,就像他们参加考试的时候做的那样?
One argument says that this would be impossible, that the smart kids are unpopular because the other kids envy them for being smart, and nothing they could do could make them popular. I wish. If the other kids in junior high school envied me, they did a great job of concealing it. And in any case, if being smart were really an enviable quality, the girls would have broken ranks. The guys that guys envy, girls like.一个观点说这是根本不可能的,因为这些孩子不受欢迎的原因正是其他的孩子嫉妒他们的聪明,所以无论他们做什么他们都无法受到欢迎。我倒是希望我的那些初中同学是在嫉妒我,他们真的把动机隐藏的很深。并且在这种情况下,如果聪明真的值得被嫉妒的话,女孩们早就打破这种等级制度了。越被嫉妒越受女生欢迎嘛。
In the schools I went to, being smart just didn't matter much. Kids didn't admire it or despise it. All other things being equal, they would have preferred to be on the smart side of average rather than the dumb side, but intelligence counted far less than, say, physical appearance, charisma, or athletic ability.在我的学校,聪明真的无关紧要,孩子们不会羡慕他或者渴望得到它。当然如果其他的方面都差不多的话,他们更加倾向于成为比较聪明的那些孩子而不是比较笨的。但是智商真的远没有其他的方面,比如外貌、魄力、体魄等重要。
So if intelligence in itself is not a factor in popularity, why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? The answer, I think, is that they don't really want to be popular.所以既然聪明才智并不是影响受欢迎程度的一个方面,为什么聪明的孩子如此一致的都不受欢迎呢?我认为原因是他们并不想让自己变得受欢迎。
If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn't want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn't want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular.如果某人当时曾这样跟我解释,我肯定会嘲笑他。在学校不受欢迎的话会让一个孩子生活的很悲惨的。有些甚至会悲惨的想要自杀。跟我解释说一个人不想变得受欢迎,就好像是说一个在沙漠里快要渴死的人不想喝水。所以,我当时当然希望自己变得受欢迎啦。
But in fact I didn't, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart. Not simply to do well in school, though that counted for something, but to design beautiful rockets, or to write well, or to understand how to program computers. In general, to make great things.但是事实上,我并没有努力让自己变得受欢迎,至少我做的不够。我还有另一件的非常想要做的事情:变得聪明。而这个愿望不仅仅是指在学校取得好成绩,虽然这个也有一定的意义,除此以外这个愿望更加促使我去设计漂亮的火箭,写出好的文章,理解设计电脑程序的方法。简而言之:做伟大的事情。
At the time I never tried to separate my wants and weigh them against one another. If I had, I would have seen that being smart was more important. If someone had offered me the chance to be the most popular kid in school, but only at the price of being of average intelligence (humor me here), I wouldn't have taken it.在那时我从未尝试把我的想做的分门别类,权衡他们的重要性。如果我做了,我也肯定会发现变得聪明更加重要。如果我有一个机会变成最受欢迎的孩子,但是只能让我拥有平庸的智商(容我自high一下),我也不会接受。
Much as they suffer from their unpopularity, I don't think many nerds would. To them the thought of average intelligence is unbearable. But most kids would take that deal. For half of them, it would be a step up. Even for someone in the eightieth percentile (assuming, as everyone seemed to then, that intelligence is a scalar), who wouldn't drop thirty points in exchange for being loved and admired by everyone?其他的那些忍受着孤立的书呆子,我认为他们的选择会和我相同。对于他们而言平庸的智力简直是噩梦。但是对于大多数孩子,他们会愿意接受这个变得受欢迎的机会。对他们中的一半人而言,这会是一种自我提升。甚至对于那些智商在前20%的人(假设智商是可以量化的,就像那时每个人认为的一样),谁不愿意用30分成绩换来每个人的喜爱和敬仰呢?
And that, I think, is the root of the problem. Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school.这就是我认为的这个问题的根本所在。书呆子们面对一个二选一。他们想要受欢迎,这个他们当然想要,但是他们更想变得更加聪明。而受欢迎度并不是一个你在课余时间做一做就能实现的,毕竟美国中学里面的竞争是如此激烈。
Alberti, arguably the archetype of the Renaissance Man, writes that "no art, however minor, demands less than total dedication if you want to excel in it." I wonder if anyone in the world works harder at anything than American school kids work at popularity. Navy SEALs and neurosurgery residents seem slackers by comparison. They occasionally take vacations; some even have hobbies. An American teenager may work at being popular every waking hour, 365 days a year.文艺复兴时期的代表人物阿尔贝蒂这样写道:“对于任何艺术,无论简单与否,除非投入全部的精力,否则都无法出类拔萃。”我很好奇是否世上有人在某件事情上花费的精力比美国中学学生在使自己受到欢迎上面花的精力还多。海报突击队的士兵和神经外科医生都相形见绌:他们至少还时而不时的放假,或者有其他的爱好,但是美国青少年们一年365天每分每秒都在试图如何让自己变得受欢迎。
I don't mean to suggest they do this consciously. Some of them truly are little Machiavellis, but what I really mean here is that teenagers are always on duty as conformists.我并不是说这些孩子有意识的这么去做。有些人确实有些像马基雅弗利有权谋意识,但是我想说的是每个青少年总是不得不尊崇这样的一种规则。
For example, teenage kids pay a great deal of attention to clothes. They don't consciously dress to be popular. They dress to look good. But to who? To the other kids. Other kids' opinions become their definition of right, not just for clothes, but for almost everything they do, right down to the way they walk. And so every effort they make to do things "right" is also, consciously or not, an effort to be more popular.比如说,青少年总是十分关注服饰。他们并不是有意识的想要穿的时尚,他们只是想要穿的看起来好一些。这个给谁看呢?当然是其他的孩子。其他孩子的观点变成了他们判断事物合理与否的标准。而这个问题不仅仅涉及到青少年的衣着,还涉及到几乎他们做的每一件事,甚至包括他们怎么走路。所以他们努力做的每一件“正确”的事情,同时也有意识或者无意识的使他们变得更加受欢迎。
Nerds don't realize this. They don't realize that it takes work to be popular. In general, people outside some very demanding field don't realize the extent to which success depends on constant (though often unconscious) effort. For example, most people seem to consider the ability to draw as some kind of innate quality, like being tall. In fact, most people who "can draw" like drawing, and have spent many hours doing it; that's why they're good at it. Likewise, popular isn't just something you are or you aren't, but something you make yourself.书呆子们并没有意识到这点,他们并没有意识到需要做这么多去使自己变得受欢迎。很多情况下,在一些高要求领域,局外人意识不到成功是需要在一定程度上的持续的努力(尽管经常是潜意识的努力)。比如说,很多人认为绘画能力是有些孩子与生俱来的能力,就像长得高一样。但事实上,很多会画画的人本身就喜欢绘画,而且他们花费了很多时间练习绘画,这也是他们擅长绘画的原因。同理,受欢迎也不是天生的,是一个人努力的结果。
The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties. They're like someone trying to play soccer while balancing a glass of water on his head. Other players who can focus their whole attention on the game beat them effortlessly, and wonder why they seem so incapable.所以书呆子不受欢迎正是源于他们有其他的需要考虑的事情。他们的注意力集中到了书本或者是自然世界,不是时尚服饰或者派对。他们就像那些头顶水杯踢足球的人,踢足球的同时还在保持头顶水杯中的水不洒出来,而其他踢球者只需要关注如何赢得比赛,自然他们可以轻而易举的赢得比赛,还想不明白对手为何如此无能。
Even if nerds cared as much as other kids about popularity, being popular would be more work for them. The popular kids learned to be popular, and to want to be popular, the same way the nerds learned to be smart, and to want to be smart: from their parents. While the nerds were being trained to get the right answers, the popular kids were being trained to please.即使书呆子们和其他孩子一样关心如何让自己变得受欢迎,对于他们而言变得受欢迎却需要花费多得多的努力。受欢迎的孩子们在学习那些使自己变得受欢迎的方法,并且想变得受欢迎;与此相同,书呆子们在学习变得聪明的方法,并且渴望变得聪明。而这些来源于它们的父母:当父母教育书呆子们寻求真理的时候,受欢迎的孩子们的父母在教它们怎么如何取悦他人。
So far I've been finessing the relationship between smart and nerd, using them as if they were interchangeable. In fact it's only the context that makes them so. A nerd is someone who isn't socially adept enough. But "enough" depends on where you are. In a typical American school, standards for coolness are so high (or at least, so specific) that you don't have to be especially awkward to look awkward by comparison.到目前为止,我一直将聪明和书呆子等价考虑,说的似乎他们是同义词。事实上只有在我上面所述的情况下是这样的。书呆子指得是那种不能很好地进行社交的人,但是否”很好“取决于你处在的环境。在一所典型的美国学校里,玩得酷的标准太高了(或者至少可以说是太具体了),以至于你做并非十分与众不同的事情都会让你比较起来显得与众不同。
Few smart kids can spare the attention that popularity requires. Unless they also happen to be good-looking, natural athletes, or siblings of popular kids, they'll tend to become nerds. And that's why smart people's lives are worst between, say, the ages of eleven and seventeen. Life at that age revolves far more around popularity than before or after.只有很少一部分聪明的孩子可以有富裕的精力尝试变得受欢迎,但这仍然要求他们碰巧拥有好的长相、运动天赋、和很受欢迎的兄弟姐妹,否则他们仍然倾向于变成书呆子。这也就是为什么聪明的人在11到17岁的生活是最糟糕的。这个年龄段的生活比其他任何年龄段的生活更加受到受欢迎度的影响。
Before that, kids' lives are dominated by their parents, not by other kids. Kids do care what their peers think in elementary school, but this isn't their whole life, as it later becomes.在那之前,孩子们的生活受到父母的支配,而不是其他的孩子。小学时孩子们确实在乎他们的小伙伴的想法,但这并非像之后的情况一样,成为他们生活的全部。
Around the age of eleven, though, kids seem to start treating their family as a day job. They create a new world among themselves, and standing in this world is what matters, not standing in their family. Indeed, being in trouble in their family can win them points in the world they care about.但是,在11岁左右,孩子们开始将家庭视为一种日常。他们开始围绕着他们自己创造自己的世界,而且认为在这个世界中的存在感更加重要,而不是他们家中那个世界。事实上,在家中惹事却能在这个新的世界里获得更多的面子,所以确实则这个新世界才是孩子真正想要的。
The problem is, the world these kids create for themselves is at first a very crude one. If you leave a bunch of eleven-year-olds to their own devices, what you get is Lord of the Flies. Like a lot of American kids, I read this book in school. Presumably it was not a coincidence. Presumably someone wanted to point out to us that we were savages, and that we had made ourselves a cruel and stupid world. This was too subtle for me. While the book seemed entirely believable, I didn't get the additional message. I wish they had just told us outright that we were savages and our world was stupid.但是问题在于,这些孩子所创造出来的世界是十分原始的。如果你让一群11岁的孩子自行其是,世界将变得像《蝇王》书中的一样。与很多美国孩子一样,我在学校的时候读过这本书。如果这不是一个巧合的话,也许有人想要告诉我们我们是野蛮人,我们创造的世界是野蛮和愚蠢的。但这对于当时的我而言太隐晦了,尽管这本书看起来挺合理,但是我并没有意识到这个深层含义。我现在真的希望他们当时能直接告诉我,我们是野蛮的,我们的世界是愚蠢的。
Nerds would find their unpopularity more bearable if it merely caused them to be ignored. Unfortunately, to be unpopular in school is to be actively persecuted.如果不受欢迎只是让书呆子们被忽视,那么他们还不会觉得这是无法忍受的。但不幸的是,在学校里不受欢迎还会使他们成为受欺负的对象。
Why? Once again, anyone currently in school might think this a strange question to ask. How could things be any other way? But they could be. Adults don't normally persecute nerds. Why do teenage kids do it?为什么?与上面的问题一样,在校青少年也会觉得这是个愚蠢的问题。事情难道有其他的可能性吗?事实上确实有,通常成年人就不会欺负书呆子。所以为何呢青少年会这么做?
Partly because teenagers are still half children, and many children are just intrinsically cruel. Some torture nerds for the same reason they pull the legs off spiders. Before you develop a conscience, torture is amusing.一部分原因在于青少年仍然是孩子,很多孩子是十分残忍的。很多孩子折磨书呆子的原因和他们拔掉蜘蛛的腿的原因一样,如果一个人还没有形成道德感的话,折磨本身就是一种乐趣。
Another reason kids persecute nerds is to make themselves feel better. When you tread water, you lift yourself up by pushing water down. Likewise, in any social hierarchy, people unsure of their own position will try to emphasize it by maltreating those they think rank below. I've read that this is why poor whites in the United States are the group most hostile to blacks.青少年伤害书呆子的另一个原因就是想让自己好受一些。当你踩水的时候,水向下,你向上。同样的道理,在社会阶级里,那些对自己位置没有信心的人会通过虐待他们认定的下层阶级来突显自己存在的位置。我也从书中了解到,这也是美国的底层白人更倾向于歧视黑人的原因。
But I think the main reason other kids persecute nerds is that it's part of the mechanism of popularity. Popularity is only partially about individual attractiveness. It's much more about alliances. To become more popular, you need to be constantly doing things that bring you close to other popular people, and nothing brings people closer than a common enemy.但我认为其他的孩子伤害书呆子的主要原因就在于欺负书呆子成为了受欢迎程度的一部分。受欢迎程度只有一部分是关于个人魅力的,更大的一部分是关于构建同盟。要变得更加受欢迎,你必须持续做那些能拉近你与受欢迎孩子之间距离的事情,恐怕没有什么比一个共同的敌人更能使一群人团结了。
Like a politician who wants to distract voters from bad times at home, you can create an enemy if there isn't a real one. By singling out and persecuting a nerd, a group of kids from higher in the hierarchy create bonds between themselves. Attacking an outsider makes them all insiders. This is why the worst cases of bullying happen with groups. Ask any nerd: you get much worse treatment from a group of kids than from any individual bully, however sadistic.就像在国内状况不好的时候,政客通过创造一个并非真实的敌人来转移选民视线一样。通过挑出那些书呆子,欺负他们,一群处在高阶层的孩子就这样创造了相互之间的精神纽带。攻击一个外人让他们变成自己人,这就是为什么最严重的那些欺凌事件往往是群体事件。随便问一个书呆子,他都会告诉你群体欺凌要比个人欺凌要严重的多,哪怕那个人是个虐待狂。
If it's any consolation to the nerds, it's nothing personal. The group of kids who band together to pick on you are doing the same thing, and for the same reason, as a bunch of guys who get together to go hunting. They don't actually hate you. They just need something to chase.这么说也许能安慰书呆子们,其实这些都不是针对个人的。这群孩子联合到起来欺负你,和一群人去狩猎是一回事,有着一样的原因:他们并不是憎恨你,他们需要的只不过是一个猎物。
Because they're at the bottom of the scale, nerds are a safe target for the entire school. If I remember correctly, the most popular kids don't persecute nerds; they don't need to stoop to such things. Most of the persecution comes from kids lower down, the nervous middle classes.因为书呆子处在学校这个社会的底层,他们成为了整个学校最易得的猎物。如果我记得没错的话,最受欢迎的孩子并不欺负书呆子:他们才不用屈身做这种事。绝大多数的伤害来自比他们低阶级的——那些焦虑的中间阶级。
The trouble is, there are a lot of them. The distribution of popularity is not a pyramid, but tapers at the bottom like a pear. The least popular group is quite small. (I believe we were the only D table in our cafeteria map.) So there are more people who want to pick on nerds than there are nerds.可怕的是,这样的人太多了。受欢迎程度的分布可不像一个金字塔,而是一个尖角向下的梨,最不受欢迎的群体十分小。(我认为我们D组中的唯一一桌。)所以想要伤害书呆子的人远比书呆子的数量要多。
As well as gaining points by distancing oneself from unpopular kids, one loses points by being close to them. A woman I know says that in high school she liked nerds, but was afraid to be seen talking to them because the other girls would make fun of her. Unpopularity is a communicable disease; kids too nice to pick on nerds will still ostracize them in self-defense.远离不受欢迎的孩子是一个加分项,那么和不受欢迎的孩子接触就是一个减分项。我认识的一位女性说他曾经在高中喜欢书呆子,但是她深怕被看见和他们聊天,因为这样做的话,其他的女孩会取笑他。不受欢迎成为了一个传染病,那些善良的孩子纵然不会去欺负书呆子,但是仍然会远离他们以自保。
It's no wonder, then, that smart kids tend to be unhappy in middle school and high school. Their other interests leave them little attention to spare for popularity, and since popularity resembles a zero-sum game, this in turn makes them targets for the whole school. And the strange thing is, this nightmare scenario happens without any conscious malice, merely because of the shape of the situation.毫无疑问,聪明的孩子在初中和高中的生活是不开心的。他们其他的兴趣爱好给几乎没有他们留下了其他的精力让自己变得受欢迎,然而受欢迎度是一种零和游戏,结果就是他们成为了整个学校孩子的目标。奇怪的是,这种噩梦般的场景竟然并非蓄意而然,仅仅是因为这个环境如此。
For me the worst stretch was junior high, when kid culture was new and harsh, and the specialization that would later gradually separate the smarter kids had barely begun. Nearly everyone I've talked to agrees: the nadir is somewhere between eleven and fourteen.对于我来说最差的生活是在初中,这正是青少年的文化环境刚刚形成并且很原始的时候,青少年开始意识到人与人之间的差异化的时候,而这种差异化最终演变成疏远聪明孩子的行为。几乎所有和我聊过这个问题的人都认为人生最低点在11岁到14岁之间。
In our school it was eighth grade, which was ages twelve and thirteen for me. There was a brief sensation that year when one of our teachers overheard a group of girls waiting for the school bus, and was so shocked that the next day she devoted the whole class to an eloquent plea not to be so cruel to one another.在我们的学校,八年级正值我12岁到13岁,记得当时有件事引起了一番轰动,那年我们的一个老师我无疑中听到了一群在等校车的女生谈论书呆子受欺负的事情,她十分震惊,第二天就强烈要求整个班级不要如此残忍的对待其他同学。
It didn't have any noticeable effect. What struck me at the time was that she was surprised. You mean she doesn't know the kind of things they say to one another? You mean this isn't normal?然而这并没有任何可见的作用。我当时还十分惊奇竟然她会感到如此意外。难道说她之前根本不知道这种学生中口口相传的事情?她还认为这不是正常的?
It's important to realize that, no, the adults don't know what the kids are doing to one another. They know, in the abstract, that kids are monstrously cruel to one another, just as we know in the abstract that people get tortured in poorer countries. But, like us, they don't like to dwell on this depressing fact, and they don't see evidence of specific abuses unless they go looking for it.没错,成年人并不知道孩子们在对别人做些什么,意识到这点很重要。他们也许能抽象化地理解孩子有些时候在极度残酷的对待他人,就像我们会抽象化的理解平穷国家的人生活十分困难。但是,和我们一样,他们并不想将事实想象得这么残酷令人窒息。除非他们看到具体的受伤害的案例,他们是不会深究实情的。
Public school teachers are in much the same position as prison wardens. Wardens' main concern is to keep the prisoners on the premises. They also need to keep them fed, and as far as possible prevent them from killing one another. Beyond that, they want to have as little to do with the prisoners as possible, so they leave them to create whatever social organization they want. From what I've read, the society that the prisoners create is warped, savage, and pervasive, and it is no fun to be at the bottom of it.公立学校的老师其实很监狱狱卒的身份差不多。狱卒关心的问题是如何让犯人呆在该呆的地方,给犯人饭吃,并且要尽一切可能避免他们杀了别人。除此以外,他们希望越少操心犯人越好,所以他们让犯人们随心所欲的创造社会群体。我从书中了解到,犯人们创造的社会是畸形的、野蛮的、无孔不入的,而且处在这个社会的底层是悲惨的。
In outline, it was the same at the schools I went to. The most important thing was to stay on the premises. While there, the authorities fed you, prevented overt violence, and made some effort to teach you something. But beyond that they didn't want to have too much to do with the kids. Like prison wardens, the teachers mostly left us to ourselves. And, like prisoners, the culture we created was barbaric.总的来讲,我去的学校情况差不多。老师最重要的事情是让学生呆在该呆的地方,还有让学生有东西吃,避免过度的暴力事件,最后花点心思去教你一些东西,除此以外他们毫不在意学生的其他问题。就像狱卒,老师让我们随心所欲。由此以来,像监狱一样,野蛮的文明生根发芽。
Why is the real world more hospitable to nerds? It might seem that the answer is simply that it's populated by adults, who are too mature to pick on one another. But I don't think this is true. Adults in prison certainly pick on one another. And so, apparently, do society wives; in some parts of Manhattan, life for women sounds like a continuation of high school, with all the same petty intrigues.但是为什么现实世界对书呆子要更加友好?答案似乎很简单:现实世界是由成人组成的,他们很成熟不会傻傻的挑出一个敌人进行攻击。但是我并不认同这个观点:监狱里面的成人就会树立敌人;并且,显然曼哈顿的那些贵妇人们也像是在延续她们高中生活一样,沉迷于钩心斗角。
I think the important thing about the real world is not that it's populated by adults, but that it's very large, and the things you do have real effects. That's what school, prison, and ladies-who-lunch all lack. The inhabitants of all those worlds are trapped in little bubbles where nothing they do can have more than a local effect. Naturally these societies degenerate into savagery. They have no function for their form to follow.我认为现实世界中最重要的因素并不在于现实世界由成人组成,而是因为社会很大,你做的每件事都会产生真真切切的影响。这是学校、监狱、贵妇的午餐会所欠缺的。这些小世界里面的居民就像在一个个小泡沫里面一样,他们做的事情除了局部影响并无其他。自然而然的这些社会变成原始社会,这些社会没有具体的功能所以也就不会遵循什么形式。
When the things you do have real effects, it's no longer enough just to be pleasing. It starts to be important to get the right answers, and that's where nerds show to advantage. Bill Gates will of course come to mind. Though notoriously lacking in social skills, he gets the right answers, at least as measured in revenue.当事情真的存在影响的时候,这就不仅仅是取悦他人了,寻求正确的答案或者解决方案就变得重要了,这也就是书呆子开始突显优势的时候了。我们当然一下子就能想到比尔盖茨,他欠缺社交能力众所周知,但是他能找到正确答案,至少从他的收入上看确实如此。
The other thing that's different about the real world is that it's much larger. In a large enough pool, even the smallest minorities can achieve a critical mass if they clump together. Out in the real world, nerds collect in certain places and form their own societies where intelligence is the most important thing. Sometimes the current even starts to flow in the other direction: sometimes, particularly in university math and science departments, nerds deliberately exaggerate their awkwardness in order to seem smarter. John Nash so admired Norbert Wiener that he adopted his habit of touching the wall as he walked down a corridor.现实世界的另一个特点就是它非常大。在一个足够大的环境中,哪怕是最小的群体聚集起来都是可观的力量。在现实世界中,书呆子们聚集在特定的地方形成他们自己的社会,而这个社会时 以智力最为最重要的标准的。有些情况下甚至这些社区的形式与高中社会完全相反,尤其是在大学的数学和科学学院,书呆子们甚至会夸大自己的笨拙以突显自己的聪明。就像约翰·纳什十分仰慕诺伯特·维纳,所以他学习了他走楼梯扶墙的行为。
As a thirteen-year-old kid, I didn't have much more experience of the world than what I saw immediately around me. The warped little world we lived in was, I thought, the world. The world seemed cruel and boring, and I'm not sure which was worse.作为一个13岁的孩子,除了那些我看到的包围我的东西,我并没有更多其他的经历。我觉得那个畸形的小世界就是现实世界。这个世界看起来是如此残酷和令人厌倦,我不知道这两个词哪个能让这个世界显得更差。
Because I didn't fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me. I didn't realize that the reason we nerds didn't fit in was that in some ways we were a step ahead. We were already thinking about the kind of things that matter in the real world, instead of spending all our time playing an exacting but mostly pointless game like the others.因为我不能适应这个世界,我曾认为我出现了什么问题,我不知道我们这些书呆子们不能适应的原因其实是因为在某种程度上我们领先于他们。我们已经开始考虑到现实世界所需要考虑的那些事情,而不是像他们一样花费时间在那些费力却毫无意义的游戏。
We were a bit like an adult would be if he were thrust back into middle school. He wouldn't know the right clothes to wear, the right music to like, the right slang to use. He'd seem to the kids a complete alien. The thing is, he'd know enough not to care what they thought. We had no such confidence.我们有一点像被重新塞到中学成年人,他们也不会知道该穿什么衣服,该喜欢什么音乐,该用什么合适的俚语。对于孩子们来说,他完全就是一个异类。但不同的是,他会知道大可不必去考虑哪些孩子在想什么,但是我们当时没有那种自信。
A lot of people seem to think it's good for smart kids to be thrown together with "normal" kids at this stage of their lives. Perhaps. But in at least some cases the reason the nerds don't fit in really is that everyone else is crazy. I remember sitting in the audience at a "pep rally" at my high school, watching as the cheerleaders threw an effigy of an opposing player into the audience to be torn to pieces. I felt like an explorer witnessing some bizarre tribal ritual.似乎很多人认为把聪明的孩子和同龄的普通孩子放到一起生活是件好事。也许吧。但是至少在某些情况下,书呆子们无法融入环境其实是在于其他的孩子都疯了。我记得高中时观看学校运动会的时候,拉拉队员们把对方选手的肖像扔向观众席,而观众们把它撕成了碎片。我就像一个探险家一样目睹了这样一个怪诞的部落仪式。
If I could go back and give my thirteen year old self some advice, the main thing I'd tell him would be to stick his head up and look around. I didn't really grasp it at the time, but the whole world we lived in was as fake as a Twinkie. Not just school, but the entire town. Why do people move to suburbia? To have kids! So no wonder it seemed boring and sterile. The whole place was a giant nursery, an artificial town created explicitly for the purpose of breeding children.如果我能够回到13岁给当时的我自己一些意见的话,我想告诉他的最重要的事情就是抬起头来向前看。我当时并没有意识到这点,而我身边的世界又虚假的如同一个奶油面包。不仅仅是学校,整个小镇都是如此。为什么大家搬到郊区去住?为了养孩子呀!怪不得整个小镇看起来如此无趣和贫瘠,整个地方就是一个巨大的幼儿园,一个人为制造的专门用来养育孩子的小镇。
Where I grew up, it felt as if there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do. This was no accident. Suburbs are deliberately designed to exclude the outside world, because it contains things that could endanger children.在我长大的地方,似乎整个世界无处可去,无事可做。这并非偶然,郊区就是为了把外在社会隔离开来而设计的,美其名曰保护孩子免受外面事物的危害。
And as for the schools, they were just holding pens within this fake world. Officially the purpose of schools is to teach kids. In fact their primary purpose is to keep kids locked up in one place for a big chunk of the day so adults can get things done. And I have no problem with this: in a specialized industrial society, it would be a disaster to have kids running around loose.至于学校而言,他们只不过是在这个虚伪的世界里面建起围栏。表面上以教育孩子为目的,实际上只不过是想在一天的大部分时间里把孩子关在一个固定的地方好让大人有空去做自己的事情。我本身对此毫无意见,在一个分工明确的工业化社会里,如果孩子到处乱跑才是灾难。
What bothers me is not that the kids are kept in prisons, but that (a) they aren't told about it, and (b) the prisons are run mostly by the inmates. Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they're called misfits.我困惑的不是把孩子们关到监狱里,而是第一,他们并没有告诉孩子实情;第二,这个监狱几乎是由犯人管理着。孩子们被送去花六年的时间,在那些只会傻傻地追着一个椭圆棕色球跑的小巨人的城堡里(译者注:这里指学生玩橄榄球),记忆那些毫无意义的事实,好像这就是这个世界最自然的事情一样。而如果他们在这个超现实的鸡尾酒晚会畏缩不前,他们就会被称作不适应社会的人。
Life in this twisted world is stressful for the kids. And not just for the nerds. Like any war, it's damaging even to the winners.生活在这样一个扭曲的世界里对孩子们来说是十分压抑的,这不仅仅是对书呆子而言,就像任何一场战争一样,没人是完全的赢家。
Adults can't avoid seeing that teenage kids are tormented. So why don't they do something about it? Because they blame it on puberty. The reason kids are so unhappy, adults tell themselves, is that monstrous new chemicals, hormones, are now coursing through their bloodstream and messing up everything. There's nothing wrong with the system; it's just inevitable that kids will be miserable at that age.成年人当然会看到孩子们在忍受痛苦,那么为什么他们不做些什么呢?因为他们把这叫做青春期。孩子们不高兴了,大人们说这是不过是大量新的化学物质——激素造成的,正是这些流淌在血液中的激素扰乱了一切事情。这并不是体制的问题,那个年纪的孩子们不可避免的要经历那些悲惨的事情。
This idea is so pervasive that even the kids believe it, which probably doesn't help. Someone who thinks his feet naturally hurt is not going to stop to consider the possibility that he is wearing the wrong size shoes.真个想法真的很有说服力,很多孩子都认同了,然而这个做法根本没有起到任何作用。一个认为一直认为自己本身就脚瘸的人是不会考虑自己穿错鞋的可能性的。
I'm suspicious of this theory that thirteen-year-old kids are intrinsically messed up. If it's physiological, it should be universal. Are Mongol nomads all nihilists at thirteen? I've read a lot of history, and I have not seen a single reference to this supposedly universal fact before the twentieth century. Teenage apprentices in the Renaissance seem to have been cheerful and eager. They got in fights and played tricks on one another of course (Michelangelo had his nose broken by a bully), but they weren't crazy.我很怀疑那个说所谓13岁的孩子自身把事情搞砸的理论。如果这是生理学上的问题,那么他必然是普遍存在的。蒙古的游牧民族在13岁的时候也是如此空虚吗?我读过很对史料,没有看到任何一个20世纪以前的证据能佐证这个情况。在文艺复兴时期的十几岁的学徒似乎是乐观和好奇的。他们当然会打架玩计谋(米开朗基罗就曾经被混混打断过鼻子),不过他们并非如此疯狂。
As far as I can tell, the concept of the hormone-crazed teenager is coeval with suburbia. I don't think this is a coincidence. I think teenagers are driven crazy by the life they're made to lead. Teenage apprentices in the Renaissance were working dogs. Teenagers now are neurotic lapdogs. Their craziness is the craziness of the idle everywhere.据我所知,这种激素导致疯狂的理论是随着逆城市化出现的,我不认为这是一个巧合,我认为青少年是做这些疯狂的事情是因为他们被迫这么做。文艺复兴时期的青少年就像兢兢业业的牧羊犬,如今的青少年就像神经质质的哈巴狗,他们的疯狂正是整天无所事事造成的疯狂。
When I was in school, suicide was a constant topic among the smarter kids. No one I knew did it, but several planned to, and some may have tried. Mostly this was just a pose. Like other teenagers, we loved the dramatic, and suicide seemed very dramatic. But partly it was because our lives were at times genuinely miserable.当年我在学校的时候,自杀是一个聪明孩子中经常谈论到的话题。虽然我并没有遇到真的这么做了的人,但是很多人确实做了这个计划,甚至也许有些人做了尝试。大多数情况下这就是一个姿态,就像其他的青少年,我们喜欢戏剧感,而自杀很有戏剧感。但是有一部分原因在于我们那时的生活真的很惨。
Bullying was only part of the problem. Another problem, and possibly an even worse one, was that we never had anything real to work on. Humans like to work; in most of the world, your work is your identity. And all the work we did was pointless, or seemed so at the time.欺凌只不过是问题的一部分,另一个也许更严重的问题是我们并没有任何真实的可以做的事情。人是需要事情去做的,在世界上的大部分地方,你的工作就是你的身份象征。而我们当年做的那些事情都是毫无意义的,至少在那时看起来是毫无意义的。
At best it was practice for real work we might do far in the future, so far that we didn't even know at the time what we were practicing for. More often it was just an arbitrary series of hoops to jump through, words without content designed mainly for testability. (The three main causes of the Civil War were.... Test: List the three main causes of the Civil War.)最好不过那些事情也就是作为未来我们从事的真实的工作的演练,但这个目标太遥远了,而我们当时根本不知道我们在演练什么。更多的时候这不过让我们穿过一个个随机选择的环,他们如此空洞,不过是一些为了考试而设计的没有意义的文字罢了。(书上说三个内战的主要诱因是什么……考试中的题目就是:请列出三个造成内战的主要因素。)
And there was no way to opt out. The adults had agreed among themselves that this was to be the route to college. The only way to escape this empty life was to submit to it.而且当时我们没有办法做出其他选择,因为成年人早就相互间敲定好了把这个作为走向大学的唯一道路。唯一的一种逃离这个空虚的生活的办法是接受它。
Teenage kids used to have a more active role in society. In pre-industrial times, they were all apprentices of one sort or another, whether in shops or on farms or even on warships. They weren't left to create their own societies. They were junior members of adult societies.青少年们曾经在社会中扮演一个更加积极的角色。在工业化以前,他们都是各种各样的学徒,在作坊里,在农场中,甚至在舰船上。他们没有被放在一边构建自己的社会,而是成人社会的年轻成员。
Teenagers seem to have respected adults more then, because the adults were the visible experts in the skills they were trying to learn. Now most kids have little idea what their parents do in their distant offices, and see no connection (indeed, there is precious little) between schoolwork and the work they'll do as adults.青少年似乎那个时候更加尊重成年人,因为成年人是可以看到的他们想学习的技术方面的专家。现在大部分孩子并不知道他们的父母在遥远的办公室里做着什么工作,也看不到他们在学校做的事情和他们未来的要从事的工作有任何联系(事实上,确实有一点联系)。
And if teenagers respected adults more, adults also had more use for teenagers. After a couple years' training, an apprentice could be a real help. Even the newest apprentice could be made to carry messages or sweep the workshop.如果青少年更加尊重成年人,成年人和会和青少年更多相处。几年的训练之后,学徒可以成为一个真正的帮手。哪怕是新招来得学徒都能做做信使或者打扫一下店铺。
Now adults have no immediate use for teenagers. They would be in the way in an office. So they drop them off at school on their way to work, much as they might drop the dog off at a kennel if they were going away for the weekend.现在青少年对于成年人来说没有什么直接用处。他们会在办公室工作。所以他们上班的路上顺便把孩子丢在学校里,就像他们周末远游的时候会把狗锁在笼子里一样。
What happened? We're up against a hard one here. The cause of this problem is the same as the cause of so many present ills: specialization. As jobs become more specialized, we have to train longer for them. Kids in pre-industrial times started working at about 14 at the latest; kids on farms, where most people lived, began far earlier. Now kids who go to college don't start working full-time till 21 or 22. With some degrees, like MDs and PhDs, you may not finish your training till 30.到底发生了什么?我们面对的是一个困难的问题。这个问题源于很多现在难题相同的诱因:专业化。当工作变得越来越专业化,我们需要越来越长的时间训练孩子,儿工业化之前的孩子最晚在14岁就开始工作了;那些占人口大多数的农村的孩子开始工作得更早。现在的孩子普遍要去大学,直到21或22岁才开始全职工作。对于某些像博士这样,你的职业训练甚至持续到30岁。
Teenagers now are useless, except as cheap labor in industries like fast food, which evolved to exploit precisely this fact. In almost any other kind of work, they'd be a net loss. But they're also too young to be left unsupervised. Someone has to watch over them, and the most efficient way to do this is to collect them together in one place. Then a few adults can watch all of them.青少年现在除了在快餐店做廉价劳动力以外毫无用处,而快餐店也很好的利用了这个事实。在几乎其他任何一种工作中,他们只能带来损失。但是他们不能无人监管,必须有人看着他们,而最有效的方法是把他们聚集到一个固定的地点,那样几个成年人就够看管他们了。
If you stop there, what you're describing is literally a prison, albeit a part-time one. The problem is, many schools practically do stop there. The stated purpose of schools is to educate the kids. But there is no external pressure to do this well. And so most schools do such a bad job of teaching that the kids don't really take it seriously-- not even the smart kids. Much of the time we were all, students and teachers both, just going through the motions.如果学校到此为止,那么描述的这个东西和监狱别无二致。问题在于,很多学校还真的到此为止了。学校对外说自己的目的在于教书育人,但是他们却对此毫无动力。因此非常多的学校教学做的如此之差,孩子们也都不把这个当回事,甚至包括那些聪明的孩子。大部分的时候我们这些人,包括老师和学生,都不过是照本宣科走走过场。
In my high school French class we were supposed to read Hugo's Les Miserables. I don't think any of us knew French well enough to make our way through this enormous book. Like the rest of the class, I just skimmed the Cliff's Notes. When we were given a test on the book, I noticed that the questions sounded odd. They were full of long words that our teacher wouldn't have used. Where had these questions come from? From the Cliff's Notes, it turned out. The teacher was using them too. We were all just pretending.在我的高中,法语课要求我们读雨果的《悲惨世界》。我当时觉得以我们的法语水平,没有人能够看完这本巨著。和我们班的其他同学一样,我只是浏览了Cliff's Notes的导读本。当时我们还参加了一个关于此书的考试,我记得问题起的都很奇怪。这些问题全都是连我们老师没有用过的长句子。所以这些问题哪来的?结果正是Cliff's Notes。那些老师也在用这个导读本,他们只不过装的很认真罢了。
There are certainly great public school teachers. The energy and imagination of my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Mihalko, made that year something his students still talk about, thirty years later. But teachers like him were individuals swimming upstream. They couldn't fix the system.当然世上也有很多公立学校的好老师。我四年级时的老师Mihalko就十分有激情和想象力,三十年后作为他的学生的我们仍然对此津津乐道。但是像他这样的老师是老师中的佼佼者,并不能拯救这个体制。
In almost any group of people you'll find hierarchy. When groups of adults form in the real world, it's generally for some common purpose, and the leaders end up being those who are best at it. The problem with most schools is, they have no purpose. But hierarchy there must be. And so the kids make one out of nothing.几乎任何一个由人组成的群体中都存在等级。在现实社会的成人群体通常是有一些共同目标的,而且领导者通常也是这群人中最适合带领大家完成这个目标的人。但是多数学校的问题在于,学生们没有固定的目标,但是等级制度不可缺席,所以孩子们自己无中生有地构建了一个等级。
We have a phrase to describe what happens when rankings have to be created without any meaningful criteria. We say that the situation degenerates into a popularity contest. And that's exactly what happens in most American schools. Instead of depending on some real test, one's rank depends mostly on one's ability to increase one's rank. It's like the court of Louis XIV. There is no external opponent, so the kids become one another's opponents.我们有一个短语用来形容这种由没有意义的分类依据产生的等级秩序,我们管这种情况叫做"退化为人缘比拼"。而这正是大多数美国学校中正在发生的事情。等级不由某些真实的考验决定,而是由某个人直接提升自身等级的能力决定。这就像路易十四世的宫廷一样,因为没有外在的对手,孩子们就相互为敌。
When there is some real external test of skill, it isn't painful to be at the bottom of the hierarchy. A rookie on a football team doesn't resent the skill of the veteran; he hopes to be like him one day and is happy to have the chance to learn from him. The veteran may in turn feel a sense of noblesse oblige. And most importantly, their status depends on how well they do against opponents, not on whether they can push the other down.当真的有某些对个人的外在能力考验的时候,在等级制度的最底层就不会是痛苦的。一个足球队的新手并不会嫉妒老球员的技术,他会希望有一天能和他一样,并且他很希望能有机会向他学习,老手会与此同时会产生一种荣誉感。最重要的是,他们的等级取决于他们在面对机遇时的表现而非是否能打倒对方。
Court hierarchies are another thing entirely. This type of society debases anyone who enters it. There is neither admiration at the bottom, nor noblesse oblige at the top. It's kill or be killed.宫廷中的等级制度就是另一种模式了,这种社会贬低所有加入这个社会的人。这里没有下层向上层的仰慕或者上层对下层的荣誉感,只有干掉对方或者被对方干掉。
This is the sort of society that gets created in American secondary schools. And it happens because these schools have no real purpose beyond keeping the kids all in one place for a certain number of hours each day. What I didn't realize at the time, and in fact didn't realize till very recently, is that the twin horrors of school life, the cruelty and the boredom, both have the same cause.而这种社会正是美国中学中产生的社会。这个社会之所以如此是因为学校除了在每天特定的几个小时中把孩子关在这里例外没有其他真正的目的。一个我当时没有意识到的事情,事实上我知道最近才意识到这个事情,那就是学校的两大恐怖之处——残酷和无聊,有着相同的诱因。
The mediocrity of American public schools has worse consequences than just making kids unhappy for six years. It breeds a rebelliousness that actively drives kids away from the things they're supposed to be learning.美国公立学校的平庸除了让学生度过不开心的六年时间以外还有更可怕的后果,它造成了一种叛逆心理,而这种叛逆使得学生没有学到他们本应该学到的东西。
Like many nerds, probably, it was years after high school before I could bring myself to read anything we'd been assigned then. And I lost more than books. I mistrusted words like "character" and "integrity" because they had been so debased by adults. As they were used then, these words all seemed to mean the same thing: obedience. The kids who got praised for these qualities tended to be at best dull-witted prize bulls, and at worst facile schmoozers. If that was what character and integrity were, I wanted no part of them.也许其他书呆子和我一样,直到高中毕业好几年后才开始读那些我们那时就该读的书。而我损失的不只是书本中的知识,我不在相信像“品性”和“正直”这样的东西,因为成年人是如此瞧不起这些东西。就像他们当时使用的方式一样,这些词似乎都等同于一个东西:听话。那些被称作有品性的或者正直的孩子最好不过蠢得像牛,最差则是巧舌如簧的扯皮者。如果这就是这就是品性和正直所代表的东西,我不想和他们有丝毫关系。
The word I most misunderstood was "tact." As used by adults, it seemed to mean keeping your mouth shut. I assumed it was derived from the same root as "tacit" and "taciturn," and that it literally meant being quiet. I vowed that I would never be tactful; they were never going to shut me up. In fact, it's derived from the same root as "tactile," and what it means is to have a deft touch. Tactful is the opposite of clumsy. I don't think I learned this until college.我误解最深的一个词是“老练”(tact)。按照成年人对这个词的用法似乎他是告诉我们闭上嘴。我甚至认为这个词来源于“缄默”(tacit)或者“沉默寡言”(taciturn),所以他本身就表示不要说话。所以我发誓我永远不要变得老练,他们永远也别想让我闭上嘴巴。事实上,这个词源于“有触觉的”(tactile),它表示熟练地接触,它是笨拙的对立面,而这个我在大学才意识到。
Nerds aren't the only losers in the popularity rat race. Nerds are unpopular because they're distracted. There are other kids who deliberately opt out because they're so disgusted with the whole process.书呆子并非这场人缘比拼中的唯一输家,书呆子不受欢迎的原因是他们没有全身心投入其中,还有一些孩子主动退出了这个竞争,因为他们十分厌恶这个过程。
Teenage kids, even rebels, don't like to be alone, so when kids opt out of the system, they tend to do it as a group. At the schools I went to, the focus of rebellion was drug use, specifically marijuana. The kids in this tribe wore black concert t-shirts and were called "freaks."青少年们并不喜欢孤身一身,哪怕是最叛逆的孩子,所以当孩子要逃离了这个竞争的时候,他们倾向于一起这么做。在我的学校,这种反抗通常意味着使用毒品,尤其是吸食大麻。这帮孩子传着黑色的T恤,我们叫他们“怪胎”。
Freaks and nerds were allies, and there was a good deal of overlap between them. Freaks were on the whole smarter than other kids, though never studying (or at least never appearing to) was an important tribal value. I was more in the nerd camp, but I was friends with a lot of freaks.怪胎和书呆子是盟友,而且很多人两者皆是。怪胎们总体上是比其他的孩子聪明的,尽管学习从来都不是(至少看起来如此)他们重要的群体价值之一。我更多的时候在书呆子小组中,但是我有很多怪胎朋友。
They used drugs, at least at first, for the social bonds they created. It was something to do together, and because the drugs were illegal, it was a shared badge of rebellion.他们通过吸毒构建起他们的社会纽带,至少一开始是这样。这是他们能够一起做的一件事情,同时鉴于吸毒违法,这又成为他们一起反抗的标志。
I'm not claiming that bad schools are the whole reason kids get into trouble with drugs. After a while, drugs have their own momentum. No doubt some of the freaks ultimately used drugs to escape from other problems-- trouble at home, for example. But, in my school at least, the reason most kids started using drugs was rebellion. Fourteen-year-olds didn't start smoking pot because they'd heard it would help them forget their problems. They started because they wanted to join a different tribe.我并不是说不好的学校是孩子们染上毒瘾的全部原因。过一段时间,毒品就成了他们其他行为的动力。毫无疑问有些怪胎最终用毒品逃脱其他问题,比如说家庭问题。但是至少在我的学校,大多说孩子开始吸毒的原因是为了反抗。那些14岁的孩子并非因为听说吸大麻可以让他们忘却烦恼而选择吸大麻的,他们这么做是想加入一个不同的集体。
Misrule breeds rebellion; this is not a new idea. And yet the authorities still for the most part act as if drugs were themselves the cause of the problem.错误的规则是反抗的诱因,这并非一个新颖的观点,但时至今日学校还在大多数情况下摆出一幅毒品本身造成这些孩子的问题的嘴脸。
The real problem is the emptiness of school life. We won't see solutions till adults realize that. The adults who may realize it first are the ones who were themselves nerds in school. Do you want your kids to be as unhappy in eighth grade as you were? I wouldn't. Well, then, is there anything we can do to fix things? Almost certainly. There is nothing inevitable about the current system. It has come about mostly by default.真正的问题在于学校生活的空虚,除非成年人意识到这一点否则这个问题永远无解。而那些最先意识到这个问题的成年人曾经就是学校里的书呆子。你想让你的孩子和你在8年级的时候一样不高兴吗?如果不想,那么我们做些什么弥补这个问题?当然有了。现行体制中没有什么是不可避免的。这不过这种现象是默认出现罢了,我们可以改变。
Adults, though, are busy. Showing up for school plays is one thing. Taking on the educational bureaucracy is another. Perhaps a few will have the energy to try to change things. I suspect the hardest part is realizing that you can.尽管成年人很忙,参加学校的舞台剧是一回事,参与到教育机构进行改革是另一回事。也许,一部分人有能力会去改变这些事情,而我认为最困难的地方是意识到你能改变它。
Nerds still in school should not hold their breath. Maybe one day a heavily armed force of adults will show up in helicopters to rescue you, but they probably won't be coming this month. Any immediate improvement in nerds' lives is probably going to have to come from the nerds themselves.学校里面的书呆子也不应当隐忍,也许有一天一群全副武装的成年人会开着个直升机来拯救你们,但很有可能不是今天。任何能立竿见影改善自身生活的办法都要由书呆子们自己来实现。
Merely understanding the situation they're in should make it less painful. Nerds aren't losers. They're just playing a different game, and a game much closer to the one played in the real world. Adults know this. It's hard to find successful adults now who don't claim to have been nerds in high school.哪怕仅仅是了解到自身的处境也能让书呆子们好受一些。书呆子们不是失败者,他们只不过在玩着另一个游戏罢了,而且这个游戏的规则更加接近于真是世界中的游戏规则。成年人知道如此,很难找到哪个成功的成年人会说自己的当年不是书呆子。
It's important for nerds to realize, too, that school is not life. School is a strange, artificial thing, half sterile and half feral. It's all-encompassing, like life, but it isn't the real thing. It's only temporary, and if you look, you can see beyond it even while you're still in it.对于书呆子们,意识到这一点也很重要,那就是学校并非生活的全部。学校不过是一个人为设计的的奇怪的地方,一方面很平静,用另一方面波涛汹涌,感觉就像生活一样,不过这不是真实的生活,这只是暂时的。如果你认真去观察,你能够在深处其中的同时看穿它的虚伪。
If life seems awful to kids, it's neither because hormones are turning you all into monsters (as your parents believe), nor because life actually is awful (as you believe). It's because the adults, who no longer have any economic use for you, have abandoned you to spend years cooped up together with nothing real to do. Any society of that type is awful to live in. You don't have to look any further to explain why teenage kids are unhappy.如果对于孩子们而言生活如此糟糕,这并非是因为激素将你变成了怪物(就像你的父母想象的一样),也不是生活本身就是如此糟糕(像你想象的一样)。这仅仅是因为你对成年人不在有经济上的用处,他们把你扔到这里关起来打发几年时间做这些虚幻的东西。住在任何这种形式的社会里都是很可怕的,你不需要寻找太多的原因去解释自己的青少年生活为何如此不开心。
I've said some harsh things in this essay, but really the thesis is an optimistic one-- that several problems we take for granted are in fact not insoluble after all. Teenage kids are not inherently unhappy monsters. That should be encouraging news to kids and adults both.这篇文章里面我说了很多不中听的话,但是这个话题还是比较乐观的——毕竟这几个被我们当做必然的问题并非无法解决。青少年们也并非天生的不开心的怪物。我想这对于孩子们和大人们都是好消息。


[1] Why Nerds are Unpopular, Paul Graham, Feb 2003

[2] 为什么书呆子不受欢迎(转载),  尚萌(知乎), Sep 2015