As a person that constitutes a form of life (or so I assume) there are two realities that I’m reasonably sure exist:
- My own (that I’m fairly familiar with)
- All that other shits
Note: If you get lumped in with the latter group please don’t take it personally. I don’t make the rules.
Even with the stark duality of this view, however, I imagine certain explorations into that other realm where y’all live are still possible.
For example, using inference, deduction and other external stimuli, I can attempt to discern what’s going on in that gray matter you recklessly call a brain. Clues might include things like your primitive vocalizations, ritualistic dance and other movements, and how you are adorned.
That plumage on your head in the form of a fedora speaks volumes. I interpret that as a rather pronounced attempt to establish position within your group. Am I right? Judging actual intent of other life forms can be tricky. It’s always murky guesswork. But I’m pretty sure I nailed it.
I mentioned to my wife the other day that I would deliberately do the opposite of what I really wanted if I perceived that it might be perceived by other people as an attempt to be cool. Think about it. That’s a very deep thought. I’d literally do the exact opposite of what I want, which, by definition, is that which I hate.
I’m committed. And now, a brief case study.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I moved into a culture where there was a bleeding edge trend for some inane biologically-based characteristic, like facial hair.
Like everything you learned in elementary school, the process takes the form of a cycle.
Trends Of The Cool Cycle
- The natural formative circumstances germinate in a homogenized group in a state of status quo stagnation.
- A handful of trendsetting outlier individuals within the group define a new radical trait which is so jarringly different that it establishes a new baseline for cool.
- The first iteration of secondary adopters begins deteriorating the cool.
- Each additional iteration of adopters continues to erode cool at a predictable rate.
- Tipping point: A temporary balance within the population between those who have adopted the characteristic and those who have not. From this point on adopters are actually less cool than non-adopters.
- Normalization: The moment the group perceives non adopters as the new outliers.
- Enforcement: The group begins to enforce socialization penalties on non-adopters.
- When status quo stagnation is achieved, the process begins at Step 1 with a new characteristic.
In my case, I recently moved into a population where facial hair is on the upswing. I prefer to remain clean shaven. I like the way shaving makes my face feel just like the wood chipper scene in Fargo. So refreshing. I especially like splashing alcohol-based products directly into fresh cuts.
But now I’m get worried. What if, due to beard overload, the pendulum swings the other way? What if being clean shaven becomes the new cool?
That will be the day I begin growing a beard. Even though I’ll hate it.