A couple of scientists at the University of British Columbia have come up with some interesting [findings] about what kids find cool thesedays.
Apparently nice is the new snark. As described by surprisingly studly study director [Ilan Dar-Nimrod], “Just being nice and friendly and having talent — all the things your mom would love you to be — is the main part of how people perceive coolness now.” Dar-Nimrod sees the origins of the stereotypical cool rebel as arising from disempowered outgroups of the 1950s — blacks and youth — who wanted to resist the culture through personal expression. According to Dar-Nimrod’s colleague Ian Hansen, “open rebellion could get you killed, so a safer way to rebel would be ironic mockery of the dominant culture. Original coolness was a way of feeling like you were resisting oppression without actually doing what was necessary to throw it off.” Kids today are, apparently, not feeling very disgruntled about things and are more than happy to just get along. Exemplars of this trait are “cool”.
Of course, we can chalk a lot of this up to the general conservative vibe in the world and this study was, after all, conducted in Canada (sweet people, those Canadians), but it makes you wonder about who is consuming all the snarky too-ironic-by-half sludge that gets pumped from media outlets. Maybe not the next generation of media consumers. If I was Nick Denton I’d start wondering if I was really on the cutting edge of the next wave in publishing — or just pandering to the aging cynical wheezebags of the last generation.