This transition can kill you

This video has been going around. If you are not emotionally reasonably well shored up at the moment, don’t even think about watching it.

Most societies that practice extensive warfare, have a fair amount of violence, etc. often owing to the concentration of resources and vulnerability of those resources and a fair dose of patriarchy also have strong age grading of some kind. Sometimes transitions from one grade to another involve significant and serious dangers, and not everyone survives those dangers. Americans and many others have “grades” in school that serve as age grades, but they can be fairly flexible. But some of these can be very stark. I’ve observed that the transition out of Middle School is one of them, and this kid is experiencing this transition in a fairly dramatic way, but he is not at all unusual. He’s just letting you know about it.

I am not sure that we’ve developed the best possible way of doing things. I think we need to look at the elementary-middle school/junior high school-high school age grading critically and re-evaluate.

What do you think?


  1. #1 Ken
    December 4, 2011

    1. your attention-grabbing headline is awfully insensitive given the video posted which 2. is only tangentially related to your ultimate point about school transitions and 3. you want to tie this back to societies being more prone to warfare???

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 4, 2011

    Ken, 1. what would be the point off an attention averting headline, about 2. a connection I’ve made that you don’t see which relates to 3. an observation that a lot of anthropologists have made that 4. you don’t get.

    I seem to have one-upped you.

  3. #3 John Moeller
    December 4, 2011

    Greg, I agree. Middle school was one of the hardest times in my life. I don’t talk about it much when it comes up.

  4. #4 rturpin
    December 4, 2011

    Random, partly-inebriated thought: Most or our evolutionary history didn’t involve schools and other social institutions that partly separated us from family in early years. Those social institutions create both terrible fear — How the hell is a thirteen year-old supposed to deal with a bunch of strangers absent parental oversight?! — and, well, freedom. The last, precisely because we early on get glimpses of the world not colored by parental vision. Some have their horizons expanded, because of that. Some are traumatized. For most, it’s a combination of both.

  5. #5 Daniel McCoy
    December 5, 2011

    You should check out the kid’s update here:

    The transitions through middle school are hard, no doubt.
    This kid’s was complicated by the struggle of coming out as gay.

  6. #7 Justicar
    December 5, 2011

    Ok, I see the good Harvard graduated anthropologist failed to consider another aspect of known human behavior: people can be dishonest. This is why research is necessary. The video is a fake, and the kid lied about the whole shebang.

    Please see his revelation about it by going here:

  7. #8 The Peak Oil Poet
    December 5, 2011

    Reminds me of the feelings i had at that age

    it’s tough being human

    and school?

    after we watched what happened to our first child after the first 4 hours in school

    we took him out

    and we kept him and the others out of school as much as we could – often for years

    they got no school qualifications at all – none, zip, 0

    but now?

    one is an honours grad geophysicist

    another is a straight-A neuroscience grad who has now completed his med school finals as well

    the other is heading off to be an architect (or maybe he will choose otherwise)


    it’s a disaster – a jungle – a pit of messed up little monsters run by basically useless and helpless “teachers”

    i’d never let a child of mine alone in the jungle with the wild beasts

    how did we do it?

    by not keeping up with the Jones – in any what whatsoever

    by defining quality of life around simple simple things like time with children – doing things – being in the world and talking to them about the world as best we could

    we never gave them lessons ever – never did schoolwork ever

    we just had fun


  8. #9 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2011

    Actually, Justicar, I had wondered about that. Your video doesn’t really address that issue, though, does it?

    I’m glad to see that you still religiously read my site. but I would prefer it if you did not comment here on a regular basis. You are not welcome.

    But thanks for pointing that out. Now run along back to your video games.

  9. #10 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2011

    Oh, and Justicar: If you are not “the justicar” than I apologize for saying you are not welcome here. I suppose there could be more than one person calling themselves that.

  10. #11 Justicar
    December 5, 2011

    [inappropriate remarks deleted]

    The point of the video was to evoke an emotional response. Granted, it did fail in that regard with me, for the reason I mentioned: it’s a known fake. It didn’t directly address the other major point of your article; namely, you’re gullible and lazy.

    Also, you should entertain the idea of learning the difference than and then, if only to make ‘thoughts’ seem slightly less dimwitted.

    I’ve left comments on all of two posts you’ve written, one here and one at FFTB. Clearly, it’s not my intent to ‘regular[ly]’ post here, or there.

    When you say video games, you should say job. In other words, you’re trying to throw shit my way for being precisely not like you: having a job that pays really good money and lets me be a kid professionally.

    Now, try not to spend my tax money on something stupid. =^_^=

  11. #12 Lotharloo
    December 5, 2011

    I would have imagined as a claimed gay man Justicar would show more sympathy.

  12. #13 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2011

    Why? Isn’t “justicar” a thing you call yourself after you play many hours of a certain video game that is all about war? I’m not entirely certain, but that is what I’ve heard.

  13. #14 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2011

    Justicar, you left no comment at my other blog. You are banned there, and I think the askimet filter probably deletes your comments most places on the internet that you try to post, so your comment was probably just eaten by the world wide web and tossed out, as it probably should be.

  14. #15 john
    December 5, 2011

    another great wonderfull thing that book the bible does to people

  15. #16 meep
    December 5, 2011

    I’m a transsexual. That’s a transition that can kill you.

  16. #17 Myrdinn
    December 10, 2011

    My heart breaks for him (and for anyone in his situation).

    For me, the transition to high school wasn’t bad because Grade 8 was so hellific for me. I was in a new school for Grade 8, and all my friends who had grown up with my idiosyncrasies were gone. By Christmas I was on anti-inflammatories for my stomach, and the doctor wanted to give me tranquilizers as he said I was too uptight (being singled out, ridiculed, bullied, taunted for the way I spoke, walked, dressed, looked will do that to you–but I was a quiet reserved very shy kid who wouldn’t even eat lunch if people were around, and I never told my parents what I was going through). I missed a great deal of school.

    There were a few teachers who were also bullies, and one would berate me in class or single me out even when not berating me (“Did you know that, Andrews?”). One teacher was understanding though, he was young and had the great 70s hair and moustache going, and he was very supportive (thank you, Mr. Richards–you have no idea how far a kind word went with me).

    I was dreading going into high school, and vomited that morning at the bus stop. Grade 9 was bad, but not as bad as Grade 8. More people, better able to hide, and I learned how to blend in so I didn’t stand out. I avoided every single sporting and social event where a crowd would be (because the bullies were always in the middle of sports and social events and took great delight in humiliating me in front of a larger audience when they had a chance).

    Eventually I made it, ended up in a small university where the students were mainly Christians and as such, were very supportive and loving–I must have appeared as pretty damaged goods to them, and they really looked after me. My oldest friends now are some of those people and I will never forget their kindness. It is what probably kept me from going down a much darker road.

    So hang on, Jonah, and others. It is hard, really hard. There’s so much I want to tell you about what is coming though, the things you don’t want to miss, the things that will make you glad to be alive and damn proud of the person you became under all that pressure (let it make you stronger, more compassionate, give you resolve to stand up for others, to stand against the bullies, to not just be a bystander watching things happen to others).

    Sounds so trite. sigh. Things get better. Really, they do. I wouldn’t have believed it. It felt like an eternity. My stomach still is easily inflammed. But things get better.

    I’m gonna post this with another pseudonym since I often post comments around the blogosphere and I don’t want stuff this personal being attached to my regular pseudonym (I value my privacy even if it is privacy of a pseudonym).

  17. #18 Maggie D
    December 12, 2011

    I have heard about this video and watched the ones that come after it, but have never seen the original before. I agree that middle school is one of the roughest parts of life emotionally. You are trying to figure out who you are and some people aren’t very willing to accept you for it. Most times you have to stick it out because as I and many others found, in high school there are all different types of people and everyone has a place.