The Curse of being cool

Everybody wants to be cool. It makes us irresistibly confident in our blasé-ness concerning contemporary culture.

We are the trendsetters. 

We are the alphas.

We set the agenda.

Right?

Nope.

Lets face it; the premise of cool is bit of a stretch. Its dictates are generally vested in a crushing fear of negative evaluation. What if people don’t approve and I’m thrown out of the club?  Come on. Really!? On that basis being ‘cool’ significantly increases risk-averse behavior, stifles authenticity (an overwhelming desire of every creative I’ve encountered) and curbs our enthusiasm to step out of the established ‘box’ of principles that guide our desperation for validation. 

One things for sure, trying to maintain a lifestyle/culture that adheres to the fluctuating principles of ‘coolness' limits our learning. Coolness is trend orientated. Which means, in essence, to join the club you have to follow the guiding principles of an agenda set by others. It turns off our creative engines and quashes our eagerness to propel ourselves into situations and environments that may be frowned upon by the beard and flannel shirt crowd. In turn we miss opportunities to gravitate in the orbits of new personalities and worldviews, which ultimately shape our own ice experience. Too many companies fall into this trap of self-limitation. What if our audience responds negatively? Well that’s always a possibility, of course. But if you fail to innovate it won’t matter if your audience responds badly, because pretty soon you’ll become irrelevant. And fading out is definitely more demoralizing than going out in a ball of flames.

Trying to maintain the facade of coolness also stops us from trying hard. Similar to the previous point, when we stop trying hard to innovate and provide the most attentive service we can because we’re too cool, we fester in a cynical rut. Pedestalling ourselves strips away our humanism and vulnerability, and we dwell in a cave where image and perception is the overriding concern. 

Finally, and most importantly, it builds an overarching fear of failure, and listens to that fear of failure. Being concerned whether we are perceived as cool or not thrives off our insecurities. What if we try something new and fail? Who cares. Failure is an integral part of personal development. We all need to experience failure to firstly appreciate success, and secondly to understand that failure doesn’t define us. We don’t just fall off the horse and resign ourselves to walking. We take the lessons we’ve learned from that failure and make sure not to piss the horse off again when we hop right back on.

Popularity won’t make us happy. We’re here to create and innovate, not follow.

Following the arbitrary standards of what constitutes contemporary plebeian discourse makes us look like unthinking, amorphous blobs with no personality. We are not the lapdogs of the godless, decadent coterie of facade-carpenters. We are authentic.

Cool isn’t necessarily that.

 

Written by Tomas Coleman, founder of The 25 Mile Supper Club.