Our perception of cool constantly changes

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February 18, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle

What is cool?

by Brittany H.
What do you define as cool? Is it the same things that I would define cool? I think that cool can be used in a few different ways. The first way is what you personally, without mass influence, find appealing and interesting. Secondly, cool can be a socially radioconstructed idea of what is pleasing to the mass population. An example would be when you’re listening to radio stations that play the current most popular music. Most of the songs sound fairly similar – a consistent beat, (usually) a rap component, a chorus that’s catchy and repetitive, etc. So why are all those similar songs the best selling? It’s because people like them, because it’s cool. And the last way of applying cool, is an image of “coolness”. Leather jackets, cigarettes. Tall, mysterious people. That’s a way that media portrays “cool” people.

I think that cool is a mixture of these three ideas, but what is really cool, is ultimately up to you.

Our perception of what is cool changes all the time, as we change and grow ourselves. What I thought was cool ten years ago obviously doesn’t fully apply today. We accumulate new interests and things that we like every day. In addition to that, the glamourmedia changes what is considered cool over time as well (which has a factor in our changing ideas of what is cool). Fashion trends, makeup, hairstyles, and slang are just a few of the things that change over time in the media, which then tells us what is cool. Compare clothes from the 70’s to today, for example. Back then, a particular style was considered cool, but isn’t so much anymore.
The media’s portrayal of what is cool can be harmful to people. We’re bombarded with hundreds of images every day on unrealistic perceptions of reality. A couple years ago, pin straight hair was everywhere. Having long, straight hair was cool. But how does that make the girls with super thick, curly hair feel? On top of that, smoking is something that has always been associated with the “cool kids” – these badass personas in movies, TV shows, everywhere. In reality, that’s not true, but it encourages kids to smoke, or to see smoking as cool and sexy, which can subconsciously make the idea of smoking easier.
So, what is cool? Cool is a mixture of three things; what personally attracts you, a socially constructed idea of what the mass population is attracted to, and a perception of “coolness” that can be applied to people, places, and/or things. It can be harmful when what is viewed as cool is unattainable and unhealthy. Just remember, that you hold the power in deciding what is cool, and if you love everything mainstream, or walk a different path, that’s up to you.

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