Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Be a Trendsetter

[Reclaimed from Bubblews. Some people undoubtedly wondered whether a person who frequently writes about not having money can possibly be a trendsetter. Hate to say it but...yes. Not having money may not be marketed as a trend, but it's definitely a trend.]

(Topic credit: BeaShe wrote ; Angterese13 commented that people who consider themselves leaders don't like the idea that any of us can be our own leader; I commented...)

"You can go your own way." Readers of a certain age are familiar with this song lyric. I think the song was about breaking up, but we can choose to "go our own way" in many different ways.

Don't like the garbage you see on TV? Owning a TV set is optional.

Don't like the way you start having to replace parts of a car before you've finished paying for the car? Owning a car is optional.

Don't like the way a friend fails to make it clear whether "I'm heading your way" means "I'm driving straight to your house and will be on your doorstep in ten minutes" or "I'm doing all my weekly errands and may reach your house in four hours"? Obviously this person has something to offer, but if you really can't stand this habit, being his/her friend is optional.

Yes, there are people who truly hate any kind of difference from themselves. I'm not sure whether the most obnoxious people in this category really are leaders. I observe that a lot of them are tragically unattractive females. And I've noticed them mostly in primary school, where it's obvious, at least in hindsight, that the obnoxious brats were kids who hated being in school and couldn't do anything productive about it, but they could try to make other people as miserable as they were. I also suspect that many haters don't digest whatever they eat very well.

So the function of primary school in these United States is not so much to teach us to read (which many of us didn't even learn in primary school) as to teach us about haters. 

"What are you reading? Why are you reading that? You're weird." 

"What have you got for lunch? Ewww, ick, that's a disgusting lunch." 

"Where'd you get those ugly shoes?" 

"You got that problem wrong? You're stupid. You got that high a score? You're a nerd." 

"That's a stupid game! I broke your game box because nobody should be allowed to play that stupid game!"

Leaders? Er, um...the ones who get away with very much of this are bullies. The other ones bring out the bullies within us. (In grade one, I was a normal happy child whose social instincts focussed on my family, so I wasn't interested in other six-year-olds...except the little brat I had to hit, kick, and shove, although I was taller and stronger and would have preferred to ignore him, because if I didn't hit him he'd hit me.) But they *are* quite effective at making us distrust our own preferences about what we want to do. Is something "cool" or is it "too weird"?

Bullies tend to find most writers "weird" surprisingly similar ways. How many Bubblers think the "weirdo" behaviors listed here are actually "cool" and, well, characteristic-of-people-we-actually-like?

Say it loud: "I'm different-from-the-bullies and I'm proud." At first we do tend to attract more harassers than followers. Over time, the harassers lose interest and find easier targets to attack, and the followers become friends.

Some of my lifestyle choices are still considered "weird" in my home town, even though a book called Bobos in Paradise has documented that they are, in fact, mainstream. (Yes, I miss going anywhere in an upscale suburb of Washington and having my clothes and other style choices fit in...not enough to go back to the city though.)

On the other hand, some things that were "weird" when my parents and I were doing them in the 1960s are now trendy. Some are mainstream. And some are actually required by law.

It's such fun, being a trendsetter.