Cupcakes or pie? I seem to remember reading somewhere the cupcakes are out and pie is in. Or maybe it was the other way around. Frankly I didn’t pay too much attention because to me, no matter what is going on in my world, there will never be a need to choose between the two. I’m just not that trendy. And the turn of a new year not only marks the annual topic of resolutions, but also the annual topic of trends. Yes, we are all guided through the difficult questions of what’s out (Lululemon gear) and what’s in (hand-me-down sweatpants) by lifestyle staff writers at The Washington Post.
I didn’t start thinking too much about trends until I caught the topic while listening to the radio show To The Best of Our Knowledge and an interview with Grant McCracken, who teaches anthropology at MIT. McCracken explained that the early days of trends are difficult to identify and that the poeple creating the trend often don’t know exactly what it is. In fact, it’s not a trend until it’s embraced by a group of people. In essence, you don’t know what’s trendy until it’s actually a trend. McCracken pointed out:
Trend hunters can tell you what the hip stuff is, but 90 percent of American culture falls outside the hipness domain.
Wow. That totally has a new Discovery or History Channel reality show written all over it: Trend Hunters. And when it comes to the hipness domain, I am part of the 90 percent. Mostly I’m proud of it though I do confess, I spent more time and energy than necessary chasing that 10 percent hip domain. It was mostly during my 20s, but I still fall into that trap every now and again.
I’ve become a bit wiser when it comes to trends. I see trends as a way to learn about new things, gather information, engage in conversations and then make decisions based on my experiences, knowledge and instincts. Sometimes that means I join in with the group. Other times it means I’m off by myself munching Nature Valley granola bars while toiling way on my bike trainer for two hours on a Sunday morning. I don’t have to blindly follow a trend, but I can let a trend lead me to new experiences, new places to explore — whether it’s a new restaurant, trendy TV program or the latest exercise craze — and then decide how to make it uniquely my own. That is, if it makes my personal cut. I am, after all, part of the 90 percent of American culture that lies outside the hipness domain. And I’m quite OK with that.
To hear the entire interview with Grant McCracken about trends visit the following audio link: