Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pondering on Trends

I've been thinking about trends a lot lately. I might be wrong, but I generally see two attitudes towards trends with a varying degree of intensity. Here is a list of different trend areas that I specifically have in mind: books, movies, clothes, music, decor, hobbies. This is not an exhaustive list. I just want you to have a clear picture of the topic.

Some people like trends and are usually called "trend-followers" or "trendy." In the extreme, a trendy person might encourage others to be trendy and look down upon those who don't follow trends. We might even see a fanatic devotion to certain trends. "I love this item WAY more than you ever could!"
To a lesser extent we have people who follow trends in perhaps dress or decor but maybe not as much in music, movies, books, or other areas. I don't particularly know all motivations for trend-following. I thought perhaps it is a mix between actually liking something that has become popular and wanting to fit in with the popular crowd. (I realize it could be either or neither.) They take pride in being with the popular instead of taking pride in being a creator. I'm not saying that trendy people aren't trend-setters. I am merely discussing the two different attitudes towards trends themselves.

The other attitude I will call "anti." Again, there are varying degrees. In the extreme we might see anti's who rebuke trendy people, perhaps calling them "sheep" or "followers" with a negative connotation. They might even go out of their way to not appear to be following any trends. Now there is, of course, plenty of discussion on whether they are truly independent of trendy influence or perhaps "following" the anti-trend pop culture. The rebellion for rebellion's sake.
The lesser extreme could include people who don't like the idea of trend-following, but will still like something "despite" its popularity. People in this group might not broadcast any of their favorites, for fear of a growth in popularity, and might be defensive when something becomes popular. The phrase "I knew it back before it was popular" is a bragging right found in this group. They take pride in being with the "firsts" instead of taking pride in being with the popular. They might believe that they are trend-setters or independent of pop culture. Motivation might be our individualistic upbringing or a result of being rejected by trendy people from a young age.

My questions:
  • Can anyone really be outside of trends or pop culture? Is there a way to actually make these preferential decisions without influence?
  • Is there a third attitude?
  • Is this battle of attitude found only in the USA, where we are taught to strive to be independent individuals, or can we see it in other cultures? Is this battle found more in capitalistic societies? Is it found more in developed countries as opposed to undeveloped (using it as a subjective term as we learn in elementary school)? Is this battle a youthful battle or do we see it throughout all ages?
  • Is one attitude better than another or more correct? Is this battle simply over a subjective preference that is beyond what's right or wrong? Can taking one attitude to the extreme be classified as "wrong"?
  • Which are you? The scale below is from 1-10. One being "anti" trend and ten being "totally trendy." Five would be "I am not either" or "I do a little of both depending on the item in question."

Please respond to whichever questions you would like to talk about. Some of you might be more qualified to discuss certain questions over others. I just want some outside input. I will put some of my answers in a follow-up blog. I know my readers are very limited in number so each answer counts!


  1. I'm going to answer you first question. Yes, I do believe people can be outside of trends and pop culture. They are mountain folk or hermits.

    Anyway, it's a really interesting topic, and for myself I'm going to lean towards "I don't care either way." If I happen to be into something trendy, it's either because it's something I enjoy for myself (not because it's popular) or because I just happened to be doing it (not that I'd be saying, "I was here first!").

    And I guess I'll answer one more: Yes, I do believe there's a third attitude. But those people don't count. ;)

  2. I'm probably an 8 when I like something, but, if it ends up being really trendy, I seem to change to a rebellious attitude and don't want much to do with it!
    I think that it just depends on what it is. If it's something I really like, then, I don't care and I become a 5! haha! Does this count as 'type 3'?!!!

  3. Well, I started a really long comment, then lost it...sorry. What I will say is this...human beings have a basic need for love and acceptance, and this is mixed with your basic personality. You're either naturally more of a leader or a follower or independent. Your personality determines whether you want to be like other people or not, or you just don't care. I do believe this is world-wide, no matter what culture and economic status you belong to.

    Personally, the older I get the less I care what the trends are and just go for what I like. If it's trendy but I love it, I go for it! If it's trendy and I think it's stupid, I say so. For many years I went against the trends just because I wanted to be different and not be a sheep. I do think the "younger" generation is more prone to following trends, because they're still trying to decide who they are and it's easier to fit in with a group than fight against it...unless you have a very strong support group of your own.

  4. Oh, I'd say I was a 7-8 when I was a kid and teenager, a 2 past the age of 25, and now I'm about a 4-5. My own trend has changed as I matured!

  5. This is quite interesting. I personally have always strived to be as authentic as possible. Mostly this would make me against trends, but sometimes they align with views that I have or things that I am already doing (such as conservation and eco-friendly living, etc).

    I feel as though this puts me in a bit of a third category. Heh, it just reminded me of being a teenager and HATING it when a band that I liked became popular. :)

    Anyhow, in the end, I'd say that I am very anti-trendy since I seek authenticity on a daily basis, but I have no problem with others' inclinations and I can deal with it if something that I like/do happens to be trendy.


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