Mitch Prinstein on how to be popular in real-life and online


United By Pop received a free copy of Popular in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World

Author: Mitch Prinstein

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: Fans of Oliver James, Sue Gerhardt and Ed Smith

Themes: Non-fiction, psychology, self-help

Review: The synopsis for this begun:

“No matter how old you are, there’s a good chance that the word “popular” immediately transports you back to your teenage years. Most of us can easily recall the adolescent social cliques, the high school pecking order, and which of our peers stood out as the most or the least popular teens we knew. “

I read this, nodding my head with a shudder, as my mind flooding with every moment of teenage societal awkwardness I had ever inadvertently created or been forced to endure.

“In many ways—some even beyond our conscious awareness—those old dynamics of our youth continue to play out in every business meeting, every social gathering, in our personal relationships, and even how we raise our children.”

This… this does not bode well for me!

“But it’s not always the conventionally popular people who fare the best, for the simple reason that there is more than one type of popularity—and many of us still long for the wrong one.”

This declaration eased my anxiety that my future success, in every area of my life, was to be based solely on what number of students got picked before me when teams were chosen in sports class.

The ideology put forward and explained in this book, is that the desire to be included, and therefore deemed ‘popular’, is an unavoidable part of the human psyche. But this desired popularity is being channelled in the wrong ways. Instead of longing for status, power, influence, and notoriety, we can – and should – be hankering for an alternative source of popularity. The popularity that comes from likeability and not from power.

The reason popularity reminds us of our younger selves is because this is the time where our innate conception of the idea begun. This popularity, however, defines itself by who has the most friends gathered around them during lunch-time. This sort of popularity does not immediately garner happiness for the individual, nor does it necessarily make them likeable to others.

By beginning to understand the distinctions between these two types of popularity, Mitch Prinstein, teaches us how to channel the right source to provide unbounded joy and success in our lives, regardless of where we would place ourselves in the social hierarchy governing each of our lives.

This book is divided into nine easy-to-navigate chapters. Each outlines a function of popularity and is paired with numerous real-life examples of it playing out, that every reader from every walk-of-life could relate to. I also appreciated the focus on the modern preoccupation with social media, and how this filtered reality has impacted and reshaped both society and the traditional structure of popularity.

Can I just say, from the point of view of someone who suffers from social anxiety, this book has already brought me so much confidence! Just by highlighting that I am not at fault for, what I deemed, my personal weakness at being around people went along way to easing my discomfort in public.

As I read this, I began to understand that, whilst how others perceive me might be out of my control, gathering a smaller group of individuals who appreciate me and are attracted by my likeability, and not my status, is both far more beneficial to my happiness and is a far more attainable goal. This might be a different type of popularity but it is also its own source of power. And a more sustainable one, at that!

The knowledge imparted in this book is extensive but putting it into practice is something the reader can instantly begin to do, with little fuss. It also has a great message of self-empowerment that every individual can take away and hold close to them, in the moments when life seems unfair or bad karma seems to be taking an extra special liking to us.

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