Are trends making us poor?
Eating broccoli is trendy. Sharing is trendy. Holding the door for someone behind you is trendy. Those things are probably just as likely as this article being trendy. Trends are biased and it is affecting how you spend that money you’ve worked so hard for. In other words, trends are becoming very costly and you’re paying for it in more ways than one.
Think about how many trends you have been a part of your life. Hopefully a lot or else you live in a live action version of The Flintstones. The trends change so fast you barely have time to enjoy the present trend. The majority of everything “trendy” is in the form of material. And that material costs money obviously. Why are we as the consumers expending for these trends? Well because the consumer needs to be convinced that they need this stuff and let me tell you the very thing you are trying to resist finds a way into your home whether you like it or not. Wait so trends are abusive now? Not always. Some trends are actually good for us. That thing on your wrist zapping you every time you sit for too many hours out of the day to remind you to move around has its benefits too I get it. But my question is: why do most of the trendy things end up being sort of bad for us in some way. Are we emphasizing the negative materials more than the positive ones? Why aren’t we emphasizing behaviors and mannerisms more than physical “things”? Not to mention trends are becoming easier to transport and that easy access is making it more appealing to have the latest trend sent straight to your door.
In 2016 alone, Valentine’s Day spending reached an all time high of $19.7 billion dollars across the United States and is steadily increasing over the years. Love, the one thing that nobody can live without is also bringing us more long term distress financially. Talk about love hurts. I never thought I’d see the day where an ACE hardware store was advertising with banners for Valentine’s Day. A fucking hardware store…
If that’s unsettling, check this out.
Ah, Mother’s Day. Who doesn’t love mother’s day? Actually, who doesn’t love their mother? Well I’ll tell you one thing, definitely not one to be waiting one day of the year to express how much you love her (just like everyone else). In 2015, Mothers’ Day spending hit an all time high with $21.2 billion dollars in the United States. Nothing says “special” more than a generic Hallmark gift card at Walgreens. Sounds more like an obligation than a thoughtful deed just because you wanted to do it. I’ve heard this before, “Hey Jim, can you hang out this weekend?” “Damn, wish I could but it’s Mother’s Day.” Are you on your period, Jim?
So the economy was shit in 2009 and 2010, does that mean only the rich could afford to give their honeys’ roses and their mothers’ pancakes. Is money even an issue at that point or is it something deeper?
What do trends really mean to us? More importantly, what do they mean to YOU?
I am going to start by going through the ages to see how some of the most iconic trends have developed over the years (NOTE: “START” stands for the beginning of trend-inducing event and “END” stands for the culmination of trend-inducing event):
1) (START) Radio (1920s) — important mass medium for entertainment and news. Not only did it bring you enjoyment and entertainment but the latest news on war updates that were important for your general safety.
(END) TV (1970s) — I don’t have to use my imagination to visualize the Mohammad Ali fight now (pay per view is coming soon…shh). Let’s advertise more things people don’t need. Gotta love it.
2) (START) TV (1975) — who doesn’t like visual radio? Plus, how else will I know the number to call for the penis enlargement pills?
(END) Flat-screen (2006)— finally?
3) (START) Walkman (1980) — wait, I can listen to my whole Shaggy album while walking to school? Cool.
(END) iPod (2001) — if dancing shadows weren’t enough reason for you to play music other than through your Walkman.
4) (START) Lance Armstrong bracelets (1990s) — remember those? If you didn’t have one you were considered mediocre.
(END) Wannabe rubber bracelets (DATE UNKNOWN: Most likely after Armstrong’s steroid scandal).
5) (START) Razr phone (2003) — use cases include calling and…calling. You know, things that a phone is really meant for.
(END) Smartphone (2008) — no way, you’re telling me it’s possible to browse the internet and talk to my chatty girlfriend at the same time?
6) (START) Skinny jeans (2009) — how else do I look skinny without having to go to the gym? Right, decrease the width of my jeans. There goes my sperm count.
(END) Joggers (2013) — hold on a second. We are pro-sperm while still being pro-skinny. Welcome to the new revolutionary, comfortable, stylish, unforgettable, attractive, (insert adjective here)…pants.
7) (START) Virtual reality (2010) — I don’t ever have to have an awkward encounter with a real person ever again? Boom.
(END) Social awkwardness considered non-existent (yes! about time).
8) (START) Shaving is cool (1950s-early 2000s) — nothing says Brad Pitt more than a smooth clean-shaven voluptuous man to make you feel womanly.
(END) Beard oil (2014) — (see below)
What’s next? …
The reason I end with beard oil is because it is considered the most trivial example as to how we behave to a trend-inducing event such as, “beards are sexy.” Guys, nothing wrong with throwing down $9.99 for 1 oz. of olive oil mixed with cologne, right? Think about it for a second. Maybe for two seconds. No explanation necessary there, moving on…
Trends can be turned into a shady business too. There are several examples on how companies tried to profit off of unfortunate events. Nike in the Boston Marathon incident, Hollywood after the 9/11 attacks, Uber during the hostage siege in Sydney, etc. Every possible trend you can think of you probably have given into at some point in your life whether it was convenient, or appropriate, or just to be “cool.” They are money busters…or moral busters?
You know what’s cool? Trends that make you a better person. So, my fellow celebrities that includes you too. Instead of sponsoring that next L’Oréal commercial or that next genital cream, how about sponsoring traveling, meditation, nature, family, or even encouraging kids to play with a fucking stick. Do kids even know what a stick is anymore? Now you might ask, what about those celebrities that stood up against bullying? If I am not bombarded with it, it is not considered trendy. Would you say you are bombarded with more ads for boob jobs or anti-bullying campaigns? Thought so too. Moving on…
Minimalism. Minimalism. Minimalism. Did the boogyman make all my shit disappear yet? Minimalism only became a trend until recently. Before that all we knew were our big spacious houses and fancy Persian rugs. So how the hell did this happen? Well, some genius decided, “You know what? I have too much shit in the house. Time to fucking downsize.” And this genius raved about all his happiness and he was worshiped as a prophet by the simple-minded who constantly strive for happiness but wonder why they never achieve it. Hence, happiness became trendy. And whatever it takes to get there will be trendy. So minimalism became fucking trendy. One step for mankind making good use of worthy trends without spending a penny. But then again there’s Black Friday but don’t get me started on that.
In the end, everything is associated with a brand. You’re precious labor should not to be at the expense of the latest brand. Be WARY of trends. Brands don’t define you, you define you. Set your own trend. You will be remembered far longer than just a fad.