Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trending

I've been thinking a lot about trends: you know, what it means for a thing--video, look, object, location, meal--to be hip and the "must-have" of the moment. What comes to mind? Hm.... that Harlem Shake video-ridiculousness; poutine; sous vide as a method of cooking (for foodies, as opposed to the bastion of individuals abandoned to frozen convenience meals); Chevron stripes (!); Ombre; detoxing; fried eggs on cheeseburgers (are they still doing that, I haven't had a cheeseburger in years...); and skirts with short hems in front and long in back. (Bill Cunningham loves these; I don't.)

So for some people, being trendy is the thing, right? For some of us, if we see a wine rack made of bent records, or a chandelier built from a re-purposed wooden pallet, then we MUST have one too. If someone is spray painting and gold-leafing plastic animals to make bookends out of them, then damnit, to the craft store we go, to find our own animals to spray paint and gold leaf. If we see some Brooklyn apartment using a pair of girl's roller skates as door stops on Apartment Therapy, we spend the next month scouring antique marts and estate sales for a similar pair to prop open doors in our flats (and between you and me, the doors stay open on their own).

Why do we behave this way? I'm not talking about the common usage of some phrases, the way that the word "lothario" came into and went out of everyday usage. I'm talking about the idea of a gaggle of people seeing something cute in a magazine or on a website, and then running like mad zombies into our nearest retailer so that we can buy something that will create the new look.

I say this without any malice or judgment, now. For months, I've been feeling like my/our home (specifically) needed freshening up, and between that and the coming move, it's a great excuse to troll Pinterest and other places looking for ideas to fill up  my head and objects to fill up my home. It's definitely a mixed bag. So I write this as the person at the front of the consumerist zombie charge.

(For the record, I know very little about zombies. When I use the term in this context, I'm thinking more about the I Am Legend/28 Days Later kind of zombie, that moves fast and insatiable, rather than the slow, drooling, brain-eating zombies trekking deliberately across the foggy countryside. Shoppers don't look like this until the end of the day.)

But are we filling our closets, homes, lives with objects and practices just because everyone else is doing them? Or are we the folks who pooh-pooh every trend and go against the grain just so we can count ourselves anti-establishment?

What happens when our lives are so governed by what's trending that we lose sight of what we actually like, or what serves us? I worry about myself sometimes, about getting so caught up in trends that I forget that I have taste. I think that sounds a little bitchy, but I sure don't mean it to. I just mean that the other day I was swimming among trends, looking for ways to transform my life and I thought, "Wait a minute. I hate Anthropologie. Why do I care about making my own crocheted lighting fixtures or rope necklaces? Chevron just reminds me of herringbone; why would I want that on my wall? What good do all these tips do me if I can't make my life function because of them?"

So I suppose I have to take my time absorbing all the cool music, cool clothes, cool ideas and practices, and I have to take them all with a grain of salt. Not every list of ways to improve my life is worth trying.

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