I hadn’t heard the term “necking” since I was a little girl watching The Fonz get ready for a hot date with Pinky Tuscadero. I never liked the term. The onomatopoeia of it…the slow hum of the “n” followed by the smack of the consonants just sounds gross. So I was pretty confused to hear kids in my area from different schools, elementary and middle, have started talking about necking at school and getting necked. Weird. And gross. What’s this all about?
It turns out necking is a popular new activity among the tween set which goes a little something like this:
Necking or “giving a neck” is what happens when one kid determines that something another kid has said is dumb. Occasions on which someone might get “necked” are answering a question wrong, stating the obvious, questioning something everything else understands, being lazy.
If you are guilty of any of these, someone near you will say “that’s a neck” and then swipe their hand across the back of your neck. Usually, I am told, it doesn’t hurt, although on rare occasions kids do swipe hard. It sounds cruel but it’s more about kids beginning to develop their own social environments and exercising their new powers to limit social behavior that isn’t considered cool by the group. That’s a big part of developing identity and relationship to a group. Being necked is clearly a sign that you’re in, not out. They show you you’re cool enough to be included in this ritual and to be physically touched, and you must show them that you’re cool enough to take a little razzing without falling apart. Bonus points if you’re fast enough to call out “self serve” and swipe your own neck before someone else gets you.
For more insights into the new social world of adolescents, visit Michelle at Michelle in the Middle.