I am reading Greg Gutfeld’s new book Not Cool: The Hipster Elite and Their War on You. It’s a very funny book that looks at how our culture is infiltrated with those who think that being cool is the only way to be. The book’s premise is that being cool is not only annoying, it is dangerous. “We used to consider the right thing to do; now we consider the cool thing to do.” Rather than help parents through tough times, people adopt a tiger through the World Wildlife Fund. Rather than do anything hard, just do something cool, it is easier and gets one liked without sacrifice or risk.

According to Gutfeld, the cool conformists, mostly liberals, try to make you believe the following:

How do the cool enslave you? By convincing you that:
- If you don’t agree with them no one will like you.
- If you don’t follow them you will miss out on life.
- If you don’t listen to them you will die a lonely loser.

I laughed as I read this, thinking back to a few hipsters I had worked with once who told me that if I didn’t do what they wanted, I wouldn’t be invited to parties. I was dumbstruck. “Do I look like I care?” was all I could think of saying. But their behavior was intriguing to me, as well as a bit revolting. Who would respond to this type of incentive? Are they used to persuading people this way? If so, it must normally work. Why would anyone go along with this type of manipulation?

Gutfeld’s book explores why people desire so much to be cool and it seems to boil down to the fact that many people are conformists who would rather do something easy that makes them feel good about themselves than take a stand and risk not being liked: “Coolness is a replacement for a strong ego and operates as a safe ambivalent response to evil in the world. The result: We are left with a dreary planet of self-esteem sponges more interested in capturing the approval of phonies than actually doing something real or positive with their lives.”

My question is: Is being liked so important that people will risk everything this country used to stand for in order to be invited to the party?


Cross-posted from Dr. Helen’s blog