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Cool Equity...

Erik (nearly 10) was lamenting to me the other day about how our family just isn't cool. His friends families are cool. His friends parents have travelled to every country on the planet, apparently, and their parents allow them to watch all the Terminator movies and all the Wolvereen movies. Also, the kids with the cool parents buy them Wiis and DS Lites (yeah, saw that coming a mile off)...

I told him that his family was so cool, I mean, after all his mum (me) has lived in the artic circle!

Yeah, but, but, but, the cool families have all this cool stuff. Like Wiis...

Uhuh...

Yes, well, STUFF doesn't make you cool...

I should know, I have an iPhone and I'm STILL NOT cool...

The truth is, either you have it, or you don't, and unfortunately for Erik, we don't...

I explained to him that there are lots of very uncool people, like us, who have lots of cool stuff, and are still not cool, ourselves. We do not hold stakes in Cool Equity. In fact, when we get cool stuff, we DEVALUE the coolness of that stuff, and suddenly it seems a helluva lot less cool, and so then the people who DO have cool equity are forced to go get DIFFERENT stuff to raise the value of that equity again (which they do simply by deeming whatever they buy cool, so the rest of us can be in awe and dream of getting stuff just like them so we too can be cool, which we never actually can be... It's a vicious cycle)...

So, anyway, all this came back to me tonight as I saw people twittering about all this stuff they think is cool that I just don't get, like Wiis (and Pink, and baking, and...). Wiis cost a helluva a lot of money (in my books), and if I'm going to spend a helluva lot of money, I want to get a helluva lot of use out the item I spent the money on. So, if I bought a Wii, I'd want to see it used a LOT. Just like if I bought the boys those DS Lites they so badly lust after. But therein lies the rub... I'm OPPOSED to gaming units that are used a lot because it concerns me particularly when children use them alot. So, I'd buy the things and then be torn because if they weren't used a lot, it'd be a total waste of money, but if they WERE used a lot, I'd worry about my kids sight, and brains, and well, just how unnatural it has to be for children to sit still fidgeting with their fingers for hours while staring at a screen (and don't anybody point out what I do for a living, because that's different, I'm an adult, whose brain is fully grown and on the downward spiral now)...

Anyway, I digress.

The point is, I will never be cool, as much as I love popular culture, there is so much of it - especially the actually cool stuff - that I just don't get (probably because I lack Cool Equity), and if I did get it, and tried to partake of it, it would cease to be cool, anyway...

I understand how Erik feels. I wish I could somehow make it not matter, but being social beings, it kind of does matter to us humans to be cool, even when we claim it doesn't... Even the "alternative types" who eschew popular culture have they own version of Cool Equity, that usually comes with an organic hemp swing tag (and no, I have no Cool Equity with that lot either)... Erik comes for a long line of uncool people, on both sides of the family, and it isn't going to matter if he has the latest "in" thing in his possession because his very DNA will uncool the item at the moment of contact...

It's a hard life...

Comments

katef said…
ROFL.. I just found myself writing a comment to justify my wii purchase and to point out that you have an iphone (the height of net coolness) and a fancy pram (ooh pram coolness LOL) two things I am not really that into...and.. and... and.. ROFL...

It seems everyone has their own currency when it comes to cool-equity.

And I am blushing to admit I reckon it's kind of cool to think that your boys might think I'm cool cause I have a wii... COOL!
Juniper said…
I agree with Katef, I think everyone does have their own currency when it comes to cool-equity...

I am definitely not cool. Grew up feeling the daggy one, never being 'up with' the trends, music, clothes etc..., always cranky with my mum for not helping facilitate my "coolness" by *buying* me stuff (examples I can think of are a walkman, a pair of Doc Martins and before that a pair of Okinuis - does anyone remember them?)

But the thing is, I *like* Pink, not because she is "cool" per say, but because I love her music, and I love her lyrics, and I love how she is kinda "taking the piss" out of popular culture, and if you listen to her closely, you will totally get what I am talking about.

And not sure on the baking one, but I hate cooking but LOVE baking, not because it is cool, but because I have a sugar and carb addiction (just baked a choc layer cake yesterday arvo cause I really want to eat it, and having friends coming over today gave me an excuse LOL).

Not trying to justify any "cool stuff" I have or do LOL, well, maybe I am? But no, really I am not, because IMO, being cool is "a state of mind" not something you own yk?

I think I am cool, cause *I* think so, not cause other people think so - I can tell you now my 12yr old certainly doesn't think I am cool, even though I pointed out I actually do have a pair of Element Skater pants (which of course, he thinks is uncool cause I bought them by accident - surely if I picked something he thinks is cool by *accident*, that makes me even *more* cool yeah? LOL).
Stitch Sista said…
Cool is all relative anyway...and in the eye of the beholder.

The thing is, to me cool is not giving a shit about that stuff. It means you 'opt' out of trying to do what everyone else is. It doesn't mean you can't have cool stuff, but you don't get it because it's cool.

I was discussing this with DH the other day with respect to fashion labels for example. Well the only person who is going to think someone is cool for having brand name clothing, is someone one else who values brand name clothing i.e a wanker...which = not cool.

So yeah anyhoo we all define cool differently. For me, homebirth and extended breastfeeding and being a woman electrical power engineer all make people raise their eyebrows and makes me feel a little bit cool.

It also makes me feel like a wanker though because I realise I won't *really* be cool until I stop caring!
Leah said…
Ahhhh love your contaminating DNA!!! too funny :)
Sif said…
Sorry guys, but I'm sitting here PMSLING at the fact that you all had to justify being cool, and then tell me that me not being able to participate in all the "IN" stuff (in my particular circle of friends) was indeed cool, in itself...

That's kind of proposterous unless I can find other people who also aren't into the IN stuff, who are like me, and then I could be part of THAT IN crowd, and um, well, LOL, because I don't have cool equity, I actually CAN'T find people like me - that is what not having cool equity is all about...

I don't really care if you like what you like because you like and not because it's cool - that is the very definition of COOL. Uncool people like cool stuff, cool people just like what they like and then it BECOMES cool...

So, protest all you want, the truth is, in this circle, most everyone seems to like Wiis, Pink and Baking - oh, and sewing, I forgot to mention sewing... And I just can't participate because it would be put on, and that would be very uncool...

It's nobody's "fault" - which I think you guys must be thinking, hence the justifications - it just is... I have to learn to accept it. I'm not cool. I'll never be cool. I have no cool equity... The best I can hope for is "hanger on" status...
Juniper said…
you are never a "hanger on" Sif LOL! And I will never believe that "baking" is cool LOL! Pink, okay maybe, but "baking"??? I wish LOL!
Sif said…
It is when everyone you want to relate to does it and you don't get it, that's what I'm saying... I just don't get what the people in my circle of friends love about all these things, and because I don't get it, I can't participate convincingly in the enthusiasm, so then I can't be cool - which is also E's problem, he's not "getting it", so he tries to fake it...

It's not about being popular, there are cool people who don't have massive fan groups, they're just cool amongst a group of two or three others who also relate... It's when you can never relate that you know you have uncool DNA.

Anyway, I was kind of taking the piss (of myself), but obviously other people are taking it seriously, so I'll cease and disist now...

How did THIS post get more action than my Birth Trauma post???
Juniper said…
Hey, I don't think anyone is taking it too seriously! I reckon it is a great topic of conversation! Having an "almost teen" in the house, this topic comes up a lot, and even your post here prompted some very interesting discussion in our house!

DS likes to think he is "independent of thought" but realises how much being "in the group" (whether it is a popular group or a daggy group or whatever) is important as a teenager. And I totally get that! It really took me back to my own adolescence yk?

And to him, you need to feel "cool' to fit in to a certain extent. And regardless of how much our mothers told us it was "who we were on the inside" that counts, the reality of high school is much more complex than this. So, feeling "cool" (whether you are or not) is important to kids. If my DS thought his DNA prevented him from being cool - he would just die LOL! I know that was a joke BTW LOL!

So all I do is try to remind him that "being cool" isn't the be all and end all of life, so that he remembers that one day when he has passed beyond the teenage years - hopefully!
Sif said…
Ok, going against my better judgement here (better judgement says let it go)...

It's interesting that you make the link to adolescence, and the importance of being cool to teenagers...

I don't believe it's something that is simply an adolescent concern, althought quite often, if a person is concerned with being "cool", they're accused of not having passed out of adolescence.

I think adolescence is simply where this social phenomenon awareness BEGINS...

I think it's a lifelong phenomenon though - throughout our entire lives, human remain consciously or subconsciously aware of the need to fit in. Once again, as with much of what motivates human behaviour, it's about surviving.

In prehistoric, or even historic times, ostracisation meant death, physical death. If the community did not accept you, they were not motivated to protect you from preditors, and therefore it was important to be accepted, to have people who WANTED you around, who would CHOOSE your company...

Social ineptitude is always a threat to social acceptance and voluntary inclusion.

Emotional blackmail works quite well in the short term in ensuring social inclusion, but in the longer term, people find ways around emotional blackmail...

"Cool" isn't about having certain things, or being a certain way. It's about being able to relate to the community you live in. Obviously not everyone is going like everything everyone else likes, so my listing particular things probably wasn't helpful. These things were only examples of from MY local community - yes, obviously baking doesn't hold "cool currency" in other communities...

The thing is - and you really have to have lived with it all you life to under it - some people just don't relate to other people much at all. No, that doesn't mean they're not cool, and I CERTAINLY wasn't saying that *I* don't think I'm cool - I happen to thing I'm very cool. Unfortunately, how the individual feels about him or herself is IRRELEVENT when it comes to "Cool Equity", because it's about how the individual is able to relate to the community, and whether or not the individual has people who would choose to include them (not because of a sense of responsibility, but because they WANT to) in the community.

Even nerds can be cool, if they have other nerds who relate to them, and want to spend time with them.

When you're not the top person on ANYONE'S list, when you're a numbers filler, when people won't choose to be with you because you would like to spend time with them, but will choose to be with you if other people are there too, then you no you have no "Cool Equity" - and not because one person feels that way, but because everyone feels that way...

But make no mistake, *I* think I'm cool, I just don't think I have cool equity because I don't relate to what most people seem to relate to as communities around me. I hang onto the edges of communities... There are other fringe dwellers out here with me, but I don't relate to them either...

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