Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2003 / 14 Elul, 5763
In search of cool
I just learned about a profession that I didn't know existed -- there are people who get paid for predicting trends and guessing what will soon be considered "cool." Then they sell this information to various businesses and advertisers. And here's the kicker -- sometimes they're right, and sometimes they're wrong. Where do I sign up for this job?
Another method the trend spotters use is to take existing trends, and assume they will continue to grow. For example, it's not exactly a long shot to say that the Internet will become more and more important in people's lives. I think I can make some pretty good predictions based on current trends:
The trend spotters really earn their money when they make bold predictions -- the ones that not everyone else can make. But sometimes, they make some big mistakes. If they didn't, nobody would have bought Beta VCRS, companies wouldn't have spent fortunes developing video telephones, and Hollywood wouldn't have made "Gigli."
Weren't we all supposed to be able to call up our homes, talk to our computers, and tell them to start cooking dinner? Electronic books -- books that you could read right on your computer -- were going to replace traditional books that require you to turn pages. We were all going to be driving electric cars. "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" was going to continue to be a success no matter how often they shoved it down our throats.
So I have a suggestion for the professional coolness predictors that should help them raise their batting averages. They may be correct in assuming that teenagers know what's cool and what's not. But hiring kids or studying them to get their opinions is not the way to go. Being around my kids has given me a special key to predicting coolness trends. All these people have to do is study me.
I'm not saying I'm cool. Just the opposite. My kids have taught me that if I like a style of jeans, a kind of haircut, or a song, it's not cool. So the trend spotters and taste makers don't need to observe kids in malls. They can just look at themselves and their friends. Adults just have to remember one simple fact: if we think it's cool, it's not.
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