As usual, I went into the library, picked a random book off the shelf, and took it home not knowing what to expect. (Well, it wasn’t really the most random book, I’ve already read 4 books by the same author. But I’d never heard of this one before, so it has some randomness to it.) Anyway, that book was So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld.
Basically, it’s about this boy named Hunter who just so happens to be a “cool-hunter” (aka a “trendsetter”), a person who goes around and steals the first appearance of a trend from the “Innovators.” One day he meets this Innovator girl and after a focus group where she opens her mouth with some new idea, Hunter and Jen are told to meet his boss Mandy on a NY street corner the next morning. Except Mandy never shows up. All they find is her cell-phone in a nearby abandoned building and then the adventure is on! They go all over the city trying to find clues to Mandy’s location, all the while realizing truths about advertising campaigns and what “cool” really is. This crazy adventure happens over the course of one weekend and it had enough action, romance, and thought provoking insight to allow me to read the book in one sitting. (Although, I am considering reading it again, just for some of the AWESOME quotes.) It was a great book.
But the thing that really got my attention in this book was what he called, “The Cool Pyramid.” Here’s an excerpt that explains it from the book.
“At the top of the pyramid there are the Innovators. The first kid to keep her wallet on a big chunky chain. The first to wear way-too big pants on purpose, etc. When you meet them, most Innovators don’t look that cool, not in the sense of fashionable, anyway. Except there’s always one thing that stands out on an Innovator. Something new.
Next level down are the Trendsetters. The Trendsetters goal is to be the secondperson in the world to catch the latest disease. Unlike the Innovators, they are cool, so when they pick up an innovation, it becomescool.
Below them are the Early Adopters. They test and tweak the trend, softening the edges. Early Adopters saw their stuff in a magazine first, not on the street.
Further down are the Consumers. The people who have to see a product on TV, placed in two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall before saying, “Hey, that’s pretty cool.” At which point, it’s not.”
Now think about that for a second. I’m thinking that I can be like 99% sure that you who are reading this are a consumer. Not an Innovator, not a Trendsetter, not even an Early Adopter! Just a plain old consumer. And you, my friend, are at the very bottom of the cool pyramid. You, who probably thinks you’re just the bomb with your artistically ripped up jeans and graphic T-shirt. Or your cut-off shorts and cowboy boots. I know I’ve even felt that way a couple times when I’ve successfully emulated an outfit that I’ve seen in about two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall.
Even for me, it was kind of like a slap in the face to see that idea of “what everyone is doing is cool” completely destroyed. I say “even for me” because I’ve questioned that idea to a degree before. But never that much. Never so completely that the idea of imitating that new Disney Channel style I saw yesterday already makes me feel so…un-cool.
So you could imagine I was kind of impressed by the cool pyramid.
As usual, there’s something missing.
I personally do not fit into any of those categories.
I fit in the sense that like an Innovator, my day-to-day fashion sense is in no way considered cool. But, I don’t usually experiment and try to wear my clothes in a new way either. Generally, I have more of a I-don’t-care-what-you-think-I’ll-wear-my-clothes-the-way-I-think-they-look-good kind of attitude. Which fits none of those categories. And I have a feeling that there are a lot of people out there like me that just…well…defy definition.
Still, I find the cool pyramid fascinating because it has turned my thinking about the word cool completely upside down and led me to ask the question, does cool really exist?
And the answer, at least I think, is yes. Cool exists to each individual. Lately with the insane amount of advertisements and social media we’ve been told what is and isn’t cool and it’s just easier to go with the flow than to fight against it. But everyone has their own individual sense of what is cool to them (even if they keep that a secret), which is why the non-fashionable Innovators are at the top of the pyramid. They’re not fashionable, they’re original. Or, as original as you can be in this totally unoriginal world. And just like with any good revolution, if enough people start to buck this trend or unoriginality, then more uniqueness and individuality will begin to rule again….at least for a short while.
But wait. If everyone starts being original, then won't that make being original totally unoriginal?
Wow. Enough with that. My thoughts are starting to blur together. But hey, if you’ve got a comment or an opinion on this feel free to post it below!