This might sound a little too, well, I like to use the word ‘dink-ish’ as in ‘If you start talking about that around the water cooler you’ll sound like a pretentious dink’, but we’re currently living in a state of ‘post-post irony’. What does this mean? You know how nothing is cool anymore, or if it is cool, it has to become cool by an incredibly subtle mechanism of popularity, but that if a thing becomes too popular with too large an audience it’s instantly shunned? Take for example the ‘spinner’. Spinners are for asshats, in my opinion. But I just outlined a cultural paradigm right there. I explicitly stated Spinners are uncouth, but I implied that I have some sort of authority on cool, that I understand what cool really is. That makes me uncool as fuck. To say you can ‘nail down cool’ is precisely the point at which you start to see your coolness begin to unravel. Because I can say “Well that’s just lame” but then, if an appropriately hip enough looking person (and it helps to be young, in good shape, and physically attractive, bonus points for being well tanned) does the thing I just labeled ‘lame’, then I become uncool. Also, the terminology I’ve been using this whole time: ‘cool’ and ‘lame’ now make you uncool and lame. Really the whole problem with the situation is that in order to form a new culture every generation the youth must rebel.
‘Cool’ is probably something your mom said about the crustless cucumber sandwiches she made you as a kid. Maybe, if you’re about 25 like me, you remember the time when the term ‘sick’ was really popular, and almost everyone used it as a stand in for ‘cool’ because ‘cool’ was played out and overused. I’m a member of Generation Y. We didn’t really have that name for it when I was a kid, which is weird to be part of a generation that was named way after it was growing up, but our generation at least had the last gasps of cool to experience. Generation z, all the kids born after 1994 and who are coming up now, they are the ones who are probably going to continue to try and whitewash ‘cool’ from existence. That’s because coolness demands exclusivity. You simply can’t function as ‘cool’ or be cool in any way if you’re not exclusive to some degree. Your mom can’t be into it, otherwise it’s not cool, if your dad actively hates it, that means it’s probably 35% more likely to be cool, and if your friends are jealous, it might just be cool (if you have the right friends, otherwise you’re running the risk of being just another fucking dink).
Why am I talking about this? Why is this important in a ‘path to a better life’ way? Because culture matters. Culture affects the way we act, think, and feel. Nothing you do happens in a vacuum, and if you’re a little bit older you might say ‘eh, I don’t care about what the kids are into’ but usually by the time you hit that age you’re at the exact point in your life where you need a refresher on what it’s like to be a young person. I feel like I’m in a wierd spot though, because I’m basically an old man version of a young person. I’m 25: I know who the smashing pumpkins are. Ask a kid nowadays if they know who the smashing pumpkins are, or rage against the machine. You’ll be surprised at how long it takes to find someone 18 or younger who knows. I think it’s just a product of getting older, and yeah, some people are able to stay current, but here’s the thing: I’m not really sure I want to stay current. If the youth today (jesus christ I sound like a fucking veteran of the war of 1812) is the generation of the future, and the leaders of tomorrow, then maybe we should start paying attention to youth culture. Maybe there needs to be an integration of the new and the old. But don’t count on Gen Y or Gen Z to make the first move. It has to be Gen x and the baby boomers and the older members of Gen Y to show us how to get away from this sludge that Irony surrounds us in. We can’t really make a cultural move anymore without being laughed out of the room, and that makes it really hard for culture to progress. So maybe we need to put down our coolness (or whatever you’d call it if you could call it something without destroying what it is you hope to signify by signifying it).