“Hey …” I look at my sister cautiously, knowing that I need to phrase my next question carefully even though my little sister is the person least likely to judge me.
“Is it OK to like Dubstep?” She swivels her head to look at me and my heart starts racing. Oh no, I’ve said the wrong thing.
“I guess,” she shrugs. “I like Dubstep.”
“Really?” I breathe a sigh of relief. “OK. Cool.”
I’ve never been one to follow fads and fashions, and fortunately my sister isn’t the only person in my life who doesn’t give a damn what music I listen to and how I style my hair. For years my sister scowled darkly when I drove around with Metallica blasting from the car’s speakers, and then – a couple of years later – she informed me that “they were alright”. Her taste in music has vastly improved since the days when all she would listen to was Ministry of Dance CDs, though I’m not one to judge.
Alas, I get confused about what is cool these days. In fact, more than anything, I get confused about what I’m supposed to like and not like. I’m constantly being bombarded with memes referring to bands I should and shouldn’t like, and status updates that indicate the sentence I just used in my text or the thought process that just skipped through my mind are either outdated, uncool, or only used by a certain type of person who is regularly ridiculed for being that type of person. I’M SO CONFUSED!
This is what I can only describe as a “hater” culture. We take pride in not liking something, even if we secretly do. It’s “uncool” to like Justin Bieber, and yet we talk constantly about how much we don’t want him to be famous that he gets even more famous. I’ve never listened to a single Bieber song and yet I know the chorus to at least three. Seriously.
I think the best example of this is Nickelback. You heard me.
Here is a band that everyone loves to hate. Saying you like Nickelback provides instant ridicule and jostling about your “cool” status. I don’t actually understand why I’m supposed to not like a band who, for years, were actually deemed pretty cool. But this was before the Internet, before the birth of the meme as we know it (and back when the term “meme” referred to a bunch of questions posted on LiveJournal sites in which you were tagged and had to answer on your own site and thus the meme was passed on), and before it became cool to hate.
Yeah. I’m so cool, I hate everything! Nothing is good enough for me!
From what I understand, it’s cool to hate Twilight, Nickelback, Justin Bieber, Hipsters, Instagram, Apple (iPhones in particular), and people who can’t spell or structure Facebook updates in a coherent manner. In fairness, I have a strong preference against two of those things. The rest …
I don’t understand this new aspect of society, this celebration of hating stuff for the sheer thrill of being able to say “Ergh, I hate that.” It’s an aspect of online culture that I find terribly frustrating and fascinating. More than anything, I’m worried about being cool. I’ve never worried about being cool, but I worry about it now because it seems that being “cool” is just so darn hard these days. Can someone just give me a list of who and what we’re hating this week? Please?!
How much is this culture stifling creativity? I admire writers and artists who get their work “out there” because they are exposing themselves to this culture of hate, this culture of trolling.
The thing is, we seem to have lost a sense of ourselves when it comes to online persona and how we present ourselves. It’s like high school all over again, but this time we’re competing over who hates XYZ the most. We have this desperate need to be cool … or is that just me, in my delayed adolescence, yearning for some kind of group I can fit into?
The truth is, I don’t hate Justin Bieber. Kid’s doing pretty well, so who am I to judge? Do I like his music? Well, no. Not what I’ve heard, anyway. But hey, for a while there I loved listening to The Spice Girls, so let’s not be too hasty with our judgements.
Here’s another confession: I like fiddling with photos on Instagram. I appreciate the artistry that photographers put into composing an image, and I have absolute respect for photographers who don’t use digital editing techniques. I, however, am not a photographer. I don’t understand the first thing about filters and … stuff. What I do know is that if I press the button on my camera, an image of the scene before me magically appears on the little screen on my camera. Sometimes my photos turn out looking pretty good. I also know that sometimes using Instagram makes my photos look fun and quirky. So there you have it, I like Instagram.
I’m not sure the world is ready for me to reveal my feelings about Nickelback, but let’s keep in mind that Chad Kroeger has had a few little liaisons with the Santana, so he can’t be all bad, right?
Am I cool? Maybe not. Do I care? Well … The jury’s out on that one. What I am becoming very certain of is the fact that I’m too tired to hate, and I’m too tired to have memes and social media make my descisions about what is cool for me. Maybe I’m not cool, and maybe I never will be. I am, however, happiest when I’m not worrying about what I’m supposed to hate this week.