Nov. 2003

Why do we do the things we do? Ask a teenager why he acts the way he does, listens to the music he listens to and hangs out with the people he does. The probability is that he will not be able to give you an answer for any of the questions; he will most likely shrug off the inquiry—"why do you care?"

Why do we do the things we do? Ask a teenager why he acts the way he does, listens to the music he listens to and hangs out with the people he does. The probability is that he will not be able to give you an answer for any of the questions; he will most likely shrug off the inquiry—"why do you care?" We young adults are no different, other than the fact that, when asked, we will probably manufacture some reason, logical or otherwise, for why we do the things we do. After all, at this stage in life, we are expected to know what we're doing and why we're doing it. Most likely, we don't. Sure, we know direct things like why we work—to get money. Why do we get money? To have food and shelter and transportation, of course. So why do we have all those things? Here it gets tricky and this is where the answers stop coming. So someone might say that they have all those things because one must in order to enjoy a healthy life. That is true, one must; but one does not eat just any kind of food or live in any kind of shelter or drive any kind of car. There are specific kinds that are acceptable and those are the kinds that one will pursue. And ask one why he consumes that specific kind; the answer will be nearly universal. All questions asked with resolve will uncover the same ultimate aim: coolness.

Why does one go to Sushi Pupu? Because it's cool. Why does one live in Pacific Beach? Because it's cool. Why does one drive a Jalopy? Because it's cool. Why does one act so bored? To be cool. Why does one listen to Slipknot? Because they're cool. Why does one hang out with Kaytlyn and Mike? Because they are cool. Get wasted? Cool. Smoke? Cool. Disparage the president? Cool. All endeavors lead to coolness. The same goes for why we avoid things: Homework? It's not cool. Speak clearly? Not cool. Display respect? Uncool. Even though the teenager won't be able to answer those questions, his response proves that coolness is his intent. "Why do you care?" means "you're being so not cool, get away from me." Even though adults may have answers for why they do the things they do, chances are, they mean coolness. Dig a little deeper to get to it.

Coolness prevails everywhere, contradictorily if necessary. When someone is creative, he is cool; when someone is unproductive, he is cool; when someone is friendly, he is cool; when someone is officious and disrespectful, he is cool. When someone does something that obviously impairs others, the universal response is "that's not cool, man." When we agree, it's "alright, cool." When we disagree, it's "cool, whatever." No matter the circumstance, coolness!

What makes coolness so universal these days requires a complex investigation to uncover. You'll find it elsewhere. The effects of the trend are what we must examine presently. To do this, we must realize exactly what coolness is. Since the term is applied to nearly every instance and what seem to be contradictory conditions, we can presume that coolness does not mean the breezy chill that the dictionary suggests. Nothing that specific could describe the variety it does. It could be that coolness has simply replaced the word good since the natural response to witnessing something beneficial or positive is "cool." But what does our culture find good? It cannot be the same as historical definitions because historically unappealing things like laziness and drunkenness are included in coolness' domain.

To define coolness requires a look at what is important in our society these days. What is important is the society itself—social activity and status are of premiere import to Western civilization at the dawn of the 21st century. From entertainment to politics, the evidence is clear. Applying the original definition, we find that coolness is a breezy chill on the social plane. Indifference, apathy, disrespect, isolation, irreverence, intolerance, public pessimism and self-directed optimism all fit into the definition of coolness. From it, we find the various, incessant and inconsistent uses of the word.

What exactly are we doing when we encourage coolness or this social chill? It is not necessarily malicious. Most will employ the word "cool" to describe something positive in attempt to connect with other people. It is more like being accepting of others to be cool. It is tolerance, open-mindedness. These have good aims for sure and the use of coolness isn't intended to disrupt social harmony. Still, the plague of coolness is not just semantic. It represents a real mentality that is penetrating every effort in Western life and doing so with harmful precision. Fully metastasized, coolness will be nearly impossible to remove and complete severing will be required. It is certainly the mentality that needs to be changed and ultimately, an alternative will naturally replace "cool" when generally commenting on marginally positive things. Meanwhile, it can't do harm to immediately start using "capital" or "excellent" instead of "cool" to remark on those positive things. To get to the core of the problem, I will examine several instances of the coolness mentality and how it harms productive and civil society.

The most pressing and far-reaching consequence of coolness concerns romantic relationships. As a function of social intercourse, coolness plagues relationships in general and the romantic kind is not necessarily affected with more intensity. What makes it more urgent is romance's role in the family and its position at the core of mankind. Unlike with other relationships, any attack on romance has amplified affects. While a disturbance between supermarket clerk and customer will only be annoying in the short term with any long-term consequences being minimal at most, a disturbance between a man and woman may distress a long-term relationship, a marriage, their upbringing of children and the way those children behave once raised—decidedly more crucial.

So how does the insinuation of coolness affect this instrumental relationship? First, since romance is based in mating, one must regard the basic structure of it in the modern society. For the most part, there are no pre-arranged unions. Potential mates are to assemble on their own while interacting during any of their youthful activities whether it be class, work or the most bizarre of all modern social institutions, the "meet market." The latter is usually a discothèque or crowded tavern where youths dress as close to the popular icons of the day as possible (and as scantily as possible), drink large quantities of alcohol, not uncommonly in addition to other drugs, and proceed to mesh with as many others as possible calling the romp "dancing."

Given this condition, potential companions find each other through an undiscerning and inefficient process of elimination. Two might meet through friends, subsequently hang out a couple times and soon enough, "hook up" at one point. "Hooking up" is intimacy that includes anything from French kissing and petting on the dance floor to sexual intercourse somewhere else. It is usually after this stage where a decision is made whether to maintain the relationship or start over with other willing contestants.

Since the structure lacks much form and certainly conscious, objective input, the driving force between the participants is the level of appeal garnered in a short period of time. This frivolous judgment of others is highly visual and heavily based on style. Most importantly, this brevity begets a condition where judgment is very personal and does not have to be supported by reason. Choices made in this game are not bound to logic or propriety. In other words, a young woman's typical behavior at work or school does not limit her to similar behavior in this situation. Another point to be considered here is that since the point of judgment is so fleeting, the participants are compelled to sell themselves with intensity so as to make an impact despite the time limit. They will choose what they think is most desired, present that likeness and do so with fury to optimize their window of opportunity.

Enter coolness. When coolness has a stranglehold on society as it does now, the poor youths caught up in this game do everything they can to appear indifferent, apathetic or disrespectful. Let me reiterate: To attract others and to show interest in them, one must be indifferent, apathetic and disrespectful. This personality must be presented to the desired party and is, thus, often directed to that party. One witnesses this no matter where one looks throughout the modern mating institution. The most basic form of this relationship coolness is looking away from those one is interested in. Common sense says that eye contact is the first step to meeting someone. But these days, that very sensible thing is questioned or immediately rejected. Simply, it's not cool to act interested, and this is true for even the most basic of behaviors (like glancing). So, if a guy is interested in girl, he must not look at her at all. Indeed, it is best if he appears to be having a great time without her. He must talk and flirt with other girls, preferably those with whom he is completely disinterested. And, if he catches the desired girl's eye by chance, it will be this ultra cool, disinterested guy that will interest her.

One might question, so, once he holds her interest, how does he go about fulfilling it since he cannot look at her? The answer is that he doesn't. He can't. At least he doesn't do it intentionally by introducing himself or complimenting her on her attractive qualities. He continues not paying attention to her and hopes that he bumps into her on the way back from the restroom or something. He may fabricate a scenario in which he accidentally runs into her. But even then, he cannot express interest. Coolness must persist. And this goes for her as well. Both are stuck in the most awkward of positions. They are interested in each other, but expressing it in order to move on would necessarily cancel out the mutual interest and the potential would be lost.

The wandering youths have figured out two solutions for this predicament. Both solutions have to do with reducing the worth of the relationship. The first solution is the bizarre romp called dancing by the youths, more appropriately called the 400-back jostling monster. In this labyrinth, any dialogue between the potential mates, necessary in a normal encounter, is forgone—it is assumed that one can't talk over the throbbing music and drunkenness. Where the awkward pickup line or introduction is requisite on the normal stage, none is needed here. In the booty jungle, it goes directly from cool disinterest to gyrating pelvises. Of course, intimacy may be gained, but significant familiarity is neglected.

The second solution comes from an acceptance of lowered respect. That is, two can meet and act interested in each other as long as one is obviously disrespectful to the other. The idea being that there is an interest, but it is superficial or just an interest in using the disrespected party for his own carnal benefit. The relationship mustn't be anything significant. Thus, it really isn't interest and the cruel party retains coolness. The offended party can be cool as well, after all, she is in an insignificant relationship too. The major drawback is that she must also deal with battered esteem. In the end, coolness seems worth it.

For more evident signs that coolness runs the relationship market these days, regard the clothing that interested parties don. Folks there are dressed in T-shirts, pants with rips in them and apparel that is either three sizes to large or two sizes too small. This apathetic appearance is often the exclusive style at these meeting places suggesting that it is what will attract, or at least what is thought to attract. Apathy attracts. This can also be seen in the odd trend of young women getting tattoos. Formerly, a sign of manliness, the mark (accompanied by body piercing) has become the pansexual sign for irreverence or edginess. Anyone can do it now and doing it iterates one's coolness.

Not all visual statements are so obvious in their indifference. There is plenty of attire that is thought out and taken care of displaying little evidence of disinterest. Some people actually do want to look good and, in fact, discothèques will have dress codes barring any slovenly dress. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent coolness from plaguing the culture. Instead of a direct sign of detachment, modern socialites will use their clothing to show other forms of coolness. When for some reason or other, tattered clothing is unacceptable, the goal is to dress in a manner expressing as much sexuality as possible. Skirts are weightless; shirt bottoms rise exposing the belly; pant tops drop exposing indecent portions of pelvis and regrettably far too many thonged rears. This way, if one cannot bite their thumb at society by dressing like the homeless, one can at least disgrace it by dressing like a prostitute.

Blatant sexuality in clothing is only the most obvious sign of the primary role sexuality plays in relationships. Taken all the signs, one will conclude that sexual intercourse is the only purpose for relationships these days. Junior high schoolers are caught in sexual acts in the school hallways and in defense suggest that their behavior is necessary to maintain relationships. College girls admit that they just don't have time for "serious relationships" and then unabashedly deny giving up sexual ones. The thing to note here is that relationships proliferate in a climate where the ultimate goal is sex as opposed to "serious" interaction consisting in the ultra-serious and non-sexual responsibilities of devotion, affection and, in particular, love. These intentional and passionate responsibilities are simply out of the question when coolness is king. It is far too uncool to suggest anything like monogamy or the campus taboo, abstinence, for the sake of love.

Accordingly, things that normally accompany relationships of love like love letters, walks on the beach holding hands and so on are abandoned. For a guy to hold doors open for his date is only acceptable if it's on his way and he can do it effortlessly. Even things like hugging and kissing are barred from the new relationship because affection is far too indicative of romance. Affection is accepted in some forms as long as the personal gratification is great enough. This is the case especially in the form of intercourse. With it, the personal gratification gained is so great that the act is safe from being mixed up with love by any means. As for anything like verbal support of one's boyfriend or dreamy adoration of a girlfriend, forget it. Coolness just doesn't allow for it.

As if coolness hadn't destroyed relationships enough, there is one more devastating affect. With the charge of coolness, a youth has the ambition to neglect those with whom he finds substantial interest. Indeed, if he is able to show this disinterest by flirting with those he is uninterested in, he feels he has been successful. Unaware of his compelling aim of coolness, this practice can shift easily into antagonism toward those who he is interested in. The hostility can grow to an extent much greater than the disrespect described above most extremely manifesting into homosexuality even if one is naturally heterosexual. Since homosexuality is a complete rejection of one's sexual interests, it is the pinnacle of relationship coolness. Unfortunately for those involved, it is often so drastic a rejection that it becomes self-inflicted punishment. The cool-seeker chains himself to a life where it would be harmful to his credibility if he approached his interests. What is more significant a consequence is the effect on the family. Often, due to the homosexual mentality, family is out of the question and, thus, coolness reduces the number of potential families. Meanwhile, a trend that is gaining popularity (or at least acceptance) is the homosexual couple raising a family. No matter what one thinks of the personal effects of homosexuality, the effects of the homosexual household cannot be positive for a child who needs guidance from both sexes. Any environment where one of the two is necessarily shunned will never produce a fully developed boy or girl.

A common response to the last claim would be something to the effect of "how dare he?" The above description of homosexuality as presumptuous and cruel, if not erroneous. They will argue, "whatever! Two loving homosexuals are better for children than two bitter heterosexuals in a traditional marriage." Whatever is right. I would agree that two bitter heterosexuals in a traditional marriage would be detrimental to the children. I addressed this in the first portion of the examination of relationships describing how coolness destroys the heterosexual relationship. It doesn't make homosexuality less threatening. For the reasons I give, homosexuality necessarily harms children's development in the same way as antagonistic heterosexuals. Disrespect for others intensifies and sex becomes the most important thing. Even the homophile, if he agrees that coolness is harmful, must agree that the former is the extreme result of coolness in relationships and so is harmful to an extreme degree.

Of course, many who support homosexuality will not concede this truth because to them, homosexuality is not a matter of relationships or family—it's not even a matter of sexuality or genetics. To them, it is a matter of coolness. That is, homosexuality is so cool that in attempt to procure their own coolness, many will embrace it just because of its coolness and not for some other, more compelling reason. Thus, a logical argument against it would be useless unless it proved how it was not cool.

It makes sense, after all, homosexuality has all the traits needed to promote coolness. First of all, for the time being at least, it is a novelty. Mentioning it is a way to show one is tolerant and separate from the status quo. Doing this shows coolness. Moreover, the general public actually disagrees with homosexuality and is thought to passionately hate those drowned in it. Coolness inflates when one can live in spite of society. Supporting homosexuality often expresses the attitude that "people can do whatever they want." That phrase is the slogan for coolness. As eluded to above, focusing on homosexuality is one way to focus on sex which ultimately degrades more important and uncool things like love. Finally, in an age of social compassion, these combined have made it noble to support the misunderstood homosexual and have given several celebrities a way to refresh their recognition. Stars are very stylish and the very stylish are very cool. Altogether, homosexuality is a powerful tool in the quest for coolness these days, occupying the concept in the quest of social greediness and in the process, doing a disservice to those actually struggling with their individual sexuality.

The affection many have for homosexuality seems, as a result, irrational. Most things dear to the cool-seeker are that way seemingly because of a lack of sound reasoning. The rationale is there, it just lies in facets not traditionally argued—the rationale lies in potential coolness. In other words, the unspoken premises of discussions and arguments as a whole have changed with the exaltation of coolness rendering communication a different instrument.

The substance of arguing changes completely as a result of coolness. No longer does one argue for truth or reason; one argues for the same reason he does everything else, coolness. Points might appear to be made, but they are quick, superficial stabs, not logical proofs or efforts to connect and solve. Note the inappropriate use of sarcasm for nearly all of these points. Note the gimmick-like nature of the comments. They rhyme or strike raw nerves or emotions but are never passionate or in-depth.

All of these techniques help prove the arguer right by proving his opponent wrong. Although this method can be useful at times in debate, reliance on it implies nothing but a devotion to coolness. A person might believe in something, but if he only attempts to prove it by disproving his opponent, it can be said that he doesn't truly have his own beliefs. He is not restricted to a stance and cannot be confused for someone who seeks something. Nor can he be proven wrong as he is unattached to conviction. Throughout the debate, he drifts above all depth, allegiance and ardor. He does so coolly.

Does this insouciance undermine rhetorical progress and make the whole process useless? It does undermine traditional rhetorical progress, but traditional rhetorical aims like truth and reason fall in value when compared to coolness these days. Arguments persist for the sake of the latter. Instead of "let's resolve this," one will say, "I am so fed up with you;" instead of "something in your argument doesn't make sense," one will say, "you're an idiot." The battered arguments decay to personal attacks and tactlessness often leading to frustration and aggressiveness that threaten even the coolness that ruined the discussion in the first place. Despite the animosity, coolness can still be gained as long as fisticuffs don't result. Ultimately, rhetoric becomes another casualty of coolness.

Coolness' attack on skills and arts is not limited to the rhetorical variety. Nearly every practice man has invented to capture this amazing life suffers because of coolness. The overarching reason is that capturing this amazing life counters coolness. Name any of the arts: the fine arts, commercial arts, music, film, poetry, literature, athletics and history. Take fine arts as an example. How can the typical citizen, educated and cultivated, walk through a gallery of modern art and be turned off by half of the works on display, not "getting" the rest? The answer is coolness. The artist doesn't intend to appeal to his audience or even successfully transfer ideas. To do so would be to care what the audience thinks and that is certainly not cool. Artists are to be aloof and irreverent; to produce art that consumers understand and like would jeopardize his stature. Regard the universal rejection of popular art—isn't it for the sake of its ability to communicate to the most people possible?

So the point of fine art is no longer to convey an idea through appealing and precise visual display; it has mutated to be to shock or disturb. Witness the modern art specimen that features a mechanical arm lowering a model passenger plane into the ground just beyond a poorly crafted model city to the sounds of recorded screams. Regard winners of contemporary art contests who display their soiled bedding as their entry. It is an industry devoted to making luminaries out of those who can show the most disrespect or apathy thinkable.

Students of art, in turn, no longer paint or sculpt for some aesthetic or to relate an idea, they do it be painters or sculptors. They want to be painters or sculptors because being an artist is cool. The same goes for music, where a common ambition for trendy youths is to "be a rock star"—not mastering several instruments, melody and harmony and composing several masterpieces. Rare is the teen who goes home to study the chords of their favorite music and practice it to no end. These days, rock star hopefuls practice in another way—by dressing and acting with slovenly antipathy. The artist's style is what demonstrates coolness, so if the aspiring artist can emulate the style of his favorite guitarist or painter, he thinks he is on his way to success. Go to an amateur spoken word contest or an open mic event to see how those with artistic ambitions bypass substance of art in order to express recycled style. Ironically, reuse of what is popular these days leaves the amateur ridiculing his own imitation. I recently watched a young woman recite three poems condemning someone for lacking originality and courage, all the while dressed, speaking and cocking her neck with the same style, tone and rhythm as a famous artist.

Practicing to master the substantive processes of art is out of the question for most anyway these days. That is primarily because the hard-working artist may be admired, but only the artist with a natural talent, a born genius, is adored and cherished. The one who can create a masterpiece like a normal person fixes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is the one people flatter. The argument is that "one is born with it," with respect to the talent an artist possesses, calling him "right-brained." The argument is fallacious. Even those born with what seems to be innate dexterity or craftsmanship must be encouraged and cultivated. Those who aren't will lose their ability. On the other hand, everyone is born with the ability to create good art. Creating a masterpiece is just like fixing a PB&J sandwich, only there are more steps. One might think that it is inborn because the majority of those steps are small or unseen. So, one writes talent off as luck and moves on with his life.

The upshot is that the artist is discouraged from putting forth effort. Intentional apprenticeship and skillful precision are abandoned. If one wants to be a wonderful artist, one must be a born genius and that means all he produces must come naturally, without thinking or trying. Unfortunately, for the artist and more so for the consumer, what comes naturally is neither enjoyable nor inspiring. Paint splattered in reckless strokes, barely rhythmic samples of noise spliced together in haphazard fashion, unbelievable characters contradicting themselves. All come naturally and if expressed with the artist's standard of self-indulgence, will be embraced as art. The reason we accept this nonsense is of course, coolness. What can be cooler than doing something without intent, without practice or mastery?

Natural genius is not only exalted in the arts. Wherever learning or hard work has traditionally taken place and been respected, coolness has shoved natural genius. Do we not admire the student who can solve complex math problems without blinking? Even if his grades suffer, a nonchalant brilliance deserves full appreciation by all except the struggling teachers. Einstein's brilliance is rarely mentioned any more without the amendment that he wasn't a good student and actually failed math. Einstein is really cool, too, because of his wild hair and sticking his tongue out—scientists aren't supposed to do that.

Meanwhile, education suffers. Students don't try, questions go unanswered in class, homework goes unprepared outside of it, teachers are persecuted and students are bullied because of coolness' dominance. Other places of learning or hard work aren't so directly affected, but the encroachment of cool is still noticeable. At the retail level, stylish irreverence is encouraged despite its anti-customer nature. In service, it is not uncommon to watch a clerk babble on about what she is doing after work while the checkout line extends. Attempts to relate to customers, supposedly through humor, ends up bitter sarcasm, unappealing or repulsive. In the professional world, performance standards are still upheld because one is directly responsible for the bottom line, but attire has diminished to the point that all workdays resemble what used to be called "dress-down Fridays." Uproars, loud cursing and conversation of a sexual nature are common in at least one modern office creating tension and distraction and no doubt affecting productivity. Coolness winds its way to the bottom line somehow.

All of this may well be described as the rejection of old methods and the introduction of new ones. The argument might go: The uptight, business-like atmosphere of old companies is boring and shrinks morale. To encourage growth and loyalty, there's nothing wrong with allowing the employees a little fun. Let them wear shorts and swim fins if they can get the product out. The argument is reasonable. The style of production is secondary to the product itself and we should never behave a particular way just because we have for several years even at work.

One should ask, though, how far will it go? Can we allow anything to occur as long as the product is output? If sexual jokes are allowed, then why not sex? If cursing, why not vandalism? If irrelevant boisterousness, why not drunkenness? Is there to be anarchy in the workplace? Of course not, the reasonable person will state, there are some things that are not appropriate for a professional setting. But the reasonable person from the 1950s would state that shorts and swim fins are not appropriate office attire, even if the product is output. What makes us draw the line where we do and how do we know that line won't keep slipping away as today's relaxation becomes ordinary? Consider activities already occurring in public outside of the office. Indeed we find that mass public sex does occur to some degree every weekend at the disco. Reports of promiscuous sex in London subway terminals reiterate the reality.

One might argue that it is consensual and no one else is hurt—especially not on purpose. There is at least a common law—a golden rule—that people follow and is agreeable to everyone even if the trend shows deteriorating decorum. This claim falls short in two regards. First, as we relax our standards and new trends find popularity, they become the standards. To use the sex example, as men grow accustomed to copulating without knowing his mate more than three hours, it becomes expected. He watches his heroes do the same in the movies—this must be the acceptable way to interact with the opposite sex. Women watch the same movies and drift—or even charge—in with the men. Suddenly, romance is replaced by prostitution, the payment being coolness. Even less promiscuous women who are coerced into this new standard's trap doubt whether it is rape. Certainly, the attractive female professional concerned with coolness shies away from reporting what used to look like sexual harassment. She feels uneasy, but that kind of sexuality fills the fashion ads and music that she relishes. How can she report it as bad? If she does report it, the frustration transfers to the men who are punished for reacting to the woman who continues her sexual manner. The trouble with indicting a female music performer for stripping in front of an international television audience at the Superbowl is that the song during which she stripped said boldly that she would be naked by the end of it; and the song was accepted.

Second, some of the minor relaxations that we are beginning to accept throughout our culture actually are against the law. Sexual trends are almost illegal, but other, less titillating trends are so already. Marijuana use has become automatic at public music shows. In an attempt to relate to the younger generation, minor theft was actually featured in advertisements for two of America's most prominent companies, McDonald's and Coca-Cola. The idea is that big, stuffy corporations don't notice when small things are missing and the thrill of theft is worth a great deal to the average teenaged consumer. The irony must not strike those mindless many who buy into it.

Eight years ago, I hesitantly wrote of how our rate of relaxation would lead us to a state where theft and even murder are acceptable. The impropriety of murder is still fairly clear to most, but how long will it take for the growth of the trends described above to extend to the most terrible of all sins? Simply, the relaxation described here is not aimed at higher productivity or some general emancipation from old customs as its disguise suggests. The aim is coolness—social success through irreverence, indifference and apathy. With coolness as the goal, conscious or otherwise, one does not regard emancipation or productivity. His actions degrade social structures and traditions but never replace them once they are gone, measures that can only be judged harmful. Even if the intent of all this social relaxation is not harm, the driving force of it, whether at concerts, at work, in education or elsewhere, is coolness, a force that thrusts carelessness and disrespect wherever it goes; and carelessness and disrespect will always produce harm in the end. It may well be indistinguishable or distant, but it can never benefit others.

If we must loosen some of our workplace guidelines or social norms, then let us, but we should still behave on principle. If relaxing the company culture is what it takes to energize productivity, then do it. Meanwhile, we cannot accept complete laxity to the extent that anything goes in the workplace. There are things that will never belong in a professional setting and those things won't raise the bottom line anyway. The same is true for all social circumstances. Human instincts mingled with coolness will test social boundaries incessantly without a company's revenue or a person's respectability in mind. That is the kind of loosening that must be guarded against—loosening for the sake of coolness. It is not difficult either. The atmosphere can be warm and comfortable without the sexual jokes in the cubicles. A server can be humorous and personal at my local restaurant without the lip ring and attitude. One can keep it real selling shoes even without the lazy cynicism.

Coolness is never productive. Nor is it ever artistic or humorous or insightful. In itself, it is not discerning, productive or virtuous. It is not elegant or imaginative. Coolness does not unite or encourage and it doesn't come naturally to mankind. All that coolness does do is disruptive and harmful to man, drawing him away from true creativity. Still, its appeal is greater than ever. This condition can only lead to a disintegration of society that can already be seen throughout. To reverse the social troubles we have before us might be as easy as denying coolness as a goal. Realizing that coolness actually is our goal may be all that is needed to begin the reconstruction. From there, coolness will automatically be guarded against and new aims will be instated. What is most interesting is that the replacement goals will likely be the sensible goals originally intended for our institutions. Young lovers will pursue romance, students will seek education and workers, productivity. The solution seems too obvious—get back to the original intent. Of course, it is only a possible solution when one removes the vague and self-imposed barrier currently blocking those original intentions, coolness.

As explained before, the cause of coolness' popularity is substantial enough for another piece. We can't truly solve the problems related to coolness without a sincere investigation into its causes, and so, the solution will have to be found elsewhere as well. This is a start, however, and the solution becomes more conspicuous to all as soon as "cool" is replaced as the ubiquitous response to anything, good or traditionally bad, with words appropriate to the context and constructive in themselves.