Ilan Dar-Nimrod, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center has been studying what it means to be cool.
Originally the idea of cool was linked to disdain for the main stream–rebels were cool. And the less they cared about us the cooler we thought they were. So you could never achieve coolness or try to be cool and actually succeed because if you wanted to be cool you already cared too much–which isn’t cool.
I’ve known a lot of cool people, but I’ve only known two families where the whole family is cool. It’s kind of a weird phenomenon. I don’t know how they achieve it. I think it has to do with style, but I know some stylish parents who have pretty lackluster kids and I know plenty of ordinary parents with stylish kids. It’s elusive.
I don’t think my kids and I are destined for coolness. But maybe we are and we don’t know it. Do cool people know they are cool? Since they don’t care–maybe they don’t even know! Which means I have a chance! (I’d have a better chance if I didn’t end the last two sentences with exclamation points which was decidedly uncool.)
Surprisingly and happily (for folks like me, who say “folks”) Dar-Nimrod’s study of coolness has found that our perception of cool is changing. Cool is becoming more friendly and moving away from aloofness and detachment.
So what is the current state of cool? Dar-Nimrod said he was surprised to find that what might be called “classical coolness”—a Don Draperesque air of detachment and even rebellion—is still important, but less so than characteristics such as friendliness, attractiveness, and humor.
Friendliness, attractiveness and humor! That’s something to strive for. I’m pretty excited for this new notion of cool to catch on more widely.