Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What is cool?

The brilliant (and usually cool) Rob posed this question to himself and the world at large, which sent me to pondering -- just what is this "cool" thing spoen of so much? Why do we aspire to be "cool"? And how does one do it anyway?

I've not tried to be cool since I realized I wasn't and never really would be, as cool is decided by others. You don't get to pick these others, either. In fact, I'm not sure how they get selected to be the arbitrators of "cool". No one ever asks me to vote. I don't drive a "cool" car, live in a "cool" area, wear "cool" clothes, or do anything "cool".

And, honestly, when I consider it, I can't see the attraction.

Obviously, to be "cool" is to be admired by others, often by those you don't really know. Admired almost slavishly, in that those others will try to copy what you do, be where you are, say wht you say, etc. Once they start getting your act down, you must change your act so as to make them "uncool", inasmuch as you are only really "cool" when there are the "uncool" around you, setting off your diamond bright blaze with their cubic zirconia twinkle.

It gets more complicated. You can declare yourself "cool" if you can persuade other people who are "cool" that you are "cool". However, you can lose your status if a group of them back off and cancel it, or if one of them becomes "uncool". I swear, balancing a controlled nuclear reaction is simple compared to this stuff. If a "cool" person has enough cachet, they can be caught doing something "uncool" and convert it to "cool". If not, they are doomed to fall. IT's like playing follow the leader in a circle -- no one is really sure who's leading and everyone eventually looks stupid, unless you want into the circle.

That's what it is, isn't it? Belonging? The whole admiration thing is about acceptance. To be declared cool -- and have it stick -- is the height of acceptance. People who don't know you want to know you. You are confident, you have high self-esteem, you are successful.

Until you move passed the whole thing. It does come to an end, and if you don't have self-confidence that stands beyond what others think, you are doomed to searching out the elusive "cool" forever, until you become a sad, pitiable creature wearing the latest trend on an increasingly support-hose-worthy body.

I've never been cool, and, blessed be, managed to stop worrying and being miserable about it some time back (I found completely new things to worry and be miserable about). I am free of the pretense of coolness, and wallow luxuriantly in my not-giving-a-flying-fuckedness.

So -- how many of YOU are cool?

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