To Kill A Lemming

Too many times one asks the question, “What is being ‘cool’, and how does one know when one is ‘cool'?” Today, I make an attempt to answer this inquiry.

Although ‘cool’ is a term correctly defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as neither warm nor very cold; it also means, in English slang, being excellent and first-rate. The latter definition has been overused lately.

However, coming to the brink of the new millennium it seems that, to achieve this ‘cool’ label in personal taste means one has to meet the requirements given by one’s peers. Many times an individual who desires to be ‘cool’ has had to alter his or her real personality and preferences to meet with the peer approval. This is where I have my objection.

Attempting to join the popular elite group, one must fit in with them. This means the actual self is being abandoned and replaced with a clone of a ‘cool’ personality. This is what being like everyone else in that group truly means. Then, people look upon you with a different view. The main idea is to be a follower, a lemming* that jumps off the cliff with the rest, is respectable? What has our society come to?

Individuality is frowned upon. To be different is to be ‘uncool’ or dull. The ‘cool’ clique considers members of the opposite division to be like cheap cafeteria food; untouchable.

This is the price of conformity for the sake of social status and acceptance. It seems that the latest trends will always be changing, making entry requirements one big mess. With the fashionable and constantly changing contemporary styles, today it’s ‘cool’ to be polite, tomorrow to be rude instead. If one is unable to catch up with these new trends, then one will be left stranded by the fast crowd, lost without even oneself. Where do you go from there?

What about all that one has sacrificed just to attain this elite label? Money, values, interests, friends, possibly even one’s identity. You would find that you have gambled away all your valuable assets for nothing.

Think again, for to every trend there is an end. Should you choose to conform, what will happen to you once you're left behind? I wish to remind you of the fact that trends change. The ‘cool’ group that has welcomed you in will have found you boring after a brief moment, and they will cast you aside like a pair of old shoes. Why not defy the trend by being yourself? Be the only lemming to not jump from the edge of the cliff! Stand your ground! Walk back and flaunt you greatness by being alive. Survival is the thing ! Uniqueness is ‘cool!’

You can start by omitting the word ‘cool’ from your vocabulary. Push THAT lemming off the cliff.

* LEMMING: small, cute fuzzball rodent inhabiting N. Europe, America, and parts of Asia. Once a year without logical explanation they would all race to the nearest cliff and simultaneously jump over the edge. This caused their extinction from several parts of the world. Only the lemmings who did not conform survived.

. . .

Copyright (c) 1998 by Gemma Truman
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This was my first serious piece, written late one night when I was in my usual bad mood. I was always against trends, and seeing them among the Thai population can drive me insane. This piece was later submitted to the school newspaper, then called The Bugle, and published, in 1996.