this is really nerdy again, sorry. it seems like your sense is that cool involves an element of being earned (“interpersonal personal skills”) and unearned (“quality that makes people like you without effort”). this is really interesting because it ties in with american ideas of meritocracy, that power can be earned, and then enjoyed freely bc it was “paid for” with whatever valued contribution was made- for social popularity that valued contribution is usually entertainment of some type, but some people are valued for their genuine friendliness and collaborativity- either way, these take effort. a social popularity meritocracy makes room for the ascension to power this way, but it’s still a hierarchy of power, with influence as the privilege at the top. in theory, a competitive meritocracy is more fair than most systems if the power is allowed to change hands freely, but of course life is pretty good at the top where everyone listens to you and cares about you (this is privilege), and it’s so much easier to put a few obstacles in the way of challengers than to yield fairly and have to work your way back up. in fact, there is a strong theme in american culture that approves of using influence to fight unfairly in the name of being scrappy, and using every tool available to compete at the highest level you can reach. this thinking sees fair play as “not fighting for yourself”. thats a whole other essay ugh sorry why. anyway, my point is that the cool of social popularity, though it might take effort to reach, is the privilege of influence, and influence does get things without effort.
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