is being cool, even cool?

in SF, i’ve been hanging out with some friends of friends from work. they are really sweet, we’ve been having a great time. there have been two events i’ve brought them along to, and they have pointed out how everyone is “cool”. i said that i thought they were cooler. and they didn’t seem to fully agree. they didn’t feel like they fit in or related to the culture around us.

at the time, i was feeling like every one was cool; but it dawned on me more that there is a complicated vibe that is tied to how we carry our selves, the energy we put outward, what we look like, and more. these things tie into what we perceive as “cool” in a specific moment, and how we feel relative to our environments.

pulled from the internet:

Coolness, or being cool, is an aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance, and style that is generally admired. Because of the varied and changing interpretation of what is considered cool, as well as its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning

wb cringe tho

one of my friends (and also favorite artists) Kembe posted on instagram today talking a bit about cringe and coolness. i was feeling like these relate to what we experienced at the different events. cringe, in this context, is doing something that isn’t cool. maybe in that moment they were feeling a bit cringe cause they weren’t as cool as they people around them. they may percieve the cool people thinking they are cringe since they are feeling this way as well. perhaps some of this is in our heads or perhaps its all very real.

cool is self perception

so then, anything can be cool, as it’s related to how we perceive the world and then apply ourselves into that vision. i think it’s generally seen that people who invest a lot of time, effort, and money into their fit, style, jewerly, makeup, aesthetic; are cool. whether it’s them being true to themselves, or just being extra; this is a difficult facade to see through. in my opinion, the most COOL you can be is when you are truly yourself. if that’s wearing blue jeans and a red t-shirt; amazing. if it’s wearing 80s vintage carhartt denim with a wacked out blazer; then go for it.

some may say, fitting in with the current trends and homogenizing culture is actually very not COOL. in america, this happens a lot. workwear trend is a great example of this, and the example i mentioned before will commodify the essense of working class culture without benefiting working people.

commodify working culture? who’s she

we may walk into a room of good looking 26 year olds to see everyone in high fashion, work-wear, real-tree, and more. “wow, these people look very cool”. the reality is, they have stolen their clothing trend from working-class people. workwear is created for working class bodies to stay protected from dangerous, hazardous, and gross stuff. it’s really common to see a 100$ pair of jeans with a bunch of paint marks on it, like it was used by a painter. this is low key dark. to wear the pants of someone who sweater, laboured in these clothes and now you upsell them for 3x their cost and that person does not see a penny of it. they probably just got rid of it at thrift because it had paint on it. this is generally what we see as cool.

the point being, oftentimes being “cool” is coming at the sacrifice of someone or something. whether its fast fashion where the environment is harmed and we are wasteful, or whether its high fashion where products are sold for 100x the cost of labor to the detriment of working people around the globe. when you are trying to be cool; and not just being yourself, there could be harm in that.

so why be cool?

much of this culture revolves around being popular and being seen. sacrificing ethics or morals to get more attention is kinda a thing rn, especially as violence and war rages around the globe. it’s much easier to be cool than it is to perceive how our actions and movements impact other parts of the world. and i do this too, im wearing nikes. i have an iPhone. these things at a bare level make me “cool” but probably wouldn’t exist in the same context without the over-arching construct supporting the extraction of labor and resources from the earth.