a peek inside the fishbowl

26 Feb, 2010

The modern day slam book

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Did you ever read Blubber, by Judy Blume?

From what I recall (keeping in mind that I read this story about 25 years ago) the story is generally about the social dynamics of a group of fifth graders, and how one girl (the one who was cruelly nicknamed Blubber) deals with it.

This is where I first heard about the Slam Book. It’s a blank book (or page) that gets passed around the class and everyone writes what they really think of you – anonymously of course. I did this with a small group of friends in fourth grade.

What a weird idea, I mean, didn’t anyone consider that handwriting can be recognized?

On one hand the slam book idea is totally awful and mean, yet on the other hand, if you could remove the vitriol or hatred from the equation, I wonder if it would be valuable to find out if others perceive you in some way that could be altered or softened.

I have a specific situation in mind here. In seventh grade one of the girls in my school told me I was a snob. This is not something I dwell on but I have never forgotten her words.

I was shocked anyone would think I was a snob. I was shocked that anyone even bothered spending the time thinking or talking about me. I was shocked because I was just a regular, shy person and was deeply hurt that my behaviour was being interpreted so wrongly. I knew I wasn’t a snob, why couldn’t the people on my periphery know that too?

You’re probably wondering where this is coming from. Ms.D had an interesting take on it in a recent interview.

So my question to you is this: would you like to know what people think of you or is it better to stay in the dark?

(I’m not even going to touch the modern-day culture of BLOGS. If you have a blog you’ve undoubtedly received an anonymous comment or email telling you what someone REALLY THINKS of you. Not much different from a slam book, is it?)

10 Responses to "The modern day slam book"

1 | Betsy Mae

February 26th, 2010 at 1:26 pm


I have never heard of slam books!

The simple answer is yes, I would like to know what people actually think of me. I have a feeling that I would feel hurt but that I might also feel flattered. You didn’t answer the question, would you?

This post makes me think of what my husband always tells me, that he wishes I could see myself (in terms of appearance) the way other people see me, or through someone else’s eyes. He feels that I see myself too harshly. I would love to see what I look like through someone else’s eyes if this is in fact the truth!

2 | Mary @ Holy Mackerel

February 26th, 2010 at 4:38 pm


Some girls in my daughter’s Gr. 6 or 7 class were involved in creating just such a book, and it really bothered me (and a lot of parents) a lot. It was just really nasty. As if school and kids aren’t difficult enough already…

I am of the mind that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of me, but that’s me.

3 | andrea

February 26th, 2010 at 5:02 pm


It’s one thing when a bevvy of grade 6 girls pass around a slam book – we all know how cruel girls can be – but is there room for honest feedback?

Would you, or would you not want someone to tell you about a chunk of parsley stuck in your teeth? Isn’t this kind of the same? ;)

Wouldn’t you want to know if you have a tendency to interrupt people? Or that someone hates your jokes and finds them annoying? Or that you talk too loud on the phone at work? These are all things you might be embarrassing to hear, but can easily be changed.

I am totally two minded about it. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a comment that might hurt but I also recognize there is probably room for improvement.

4 | Sean

February 27th, 2010 at 6:21 am


I would absolutely want to know what people think of me and honest opinions as well. I know I can take criticism, but not everyone has the fortitude to handle hearing the truth about what people think of them.

Personally I’d prefer to hear it directly from the person in question so I can decide how much value I can put on their opinion. but then again I understand that people may not feel comfortable doing that due to concerns about hurting feelings.

5 | lacoop

February 27th, 2010 at 6:57 am


I would want to know…and then I would tell them to go to h e double hockey sticks!

Just kidding.

I think it depends on the intent of the person making the comment. If somebody is telling me something to help me, then I want to hear what they have to say. If they are doing it to hurt me, then they can kiss my grits.

p.s. you’re not a snob :-)

6 | Hilary

March 1st, 2010 at 5:54 am


I know just how that feels. When I was 22 I had an appraisal at my on-campus job and my supervisor told me that some of the other staff found me “very standoffish” (which is another way of saying snobby and stuck up). I was almost stunned into tears. I was just a shy person who had trouble feeling comfortable in large groups. It hurt, but I’m glad of that feedback because it was the first time I realized how my behaviour might come across to others. As a result I’m much more aware of myself and how I interact with others now.

7 | coffeewithjulie

March 1st, 2010 at 9:47 am


Did I ever read Blubber? What a question! I read every single one of Judy Blume’s books! :)

But I don’t actually remember a slam book. When I think about it, one side of me really wants to know but the other side of me is so thin-skinned that I’d probably be in therapy for years as a result.

8 | Lex

March 3rd, 2010 at 2:51 pm


Excellent question. In fact a topic I’ve been mulling over for the last couple of years. I would certainly like to know what people used to think of me. It would be fascinating to hear how I was perceived “back when”.

I’ve been contemplating the amount and directness of feedback teenagers get on an ongoing basis about their appearance, personality and overall social style. How that feedback can and often does, effect change.

But how, as we get further and further from that microcosm of extreme scrutiny, we get comfortable (which is good), and yet can forget to consider how we are “coming off”.

Sure it’s great not to be obsessively introspective, but will someone tell me if I can’t carry-off pigtails with pink ribbons when I’m 69?

Someone recently replied to one of my standard quips “you sure are full of yourself aren’t you”. It stopped me in my tracks.

So, yes, I’d love to know how I come across now too. But I don’t know if I have the fortitude to hear it. I think maybe if I took slam-or-glam (;->) book about me into a dark corner and read it all by myself.

9 | meenu

March 11th, 2011 at 5:27 am


its just a wow question.

i want to absolutly know wat people says about me……..
its a golden opportunity to know about that

10 | subham

November 26th, 2011 at 12:51 am


Did I ever read Blubber? What a question! I read every single one of Judy Blume’s books! :)

But I don’t actually remember a slam book. When I think about it, one side of me really wants to know but the other side of me is so thin-skinned that I’d probably be in therapy for years as a result.

Read more: http://www.quietfish.com/notebook/?p=6087#ixzz0Ss0hVeAU

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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