Embrace the cheug.

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This week, I learned the term “cheugy” and immediately hated myself for it.

Apparently, I’m even now hopelessly behind the curve, but, to wit: my understanding of “cheugy” is that it’s a term used by Gen-Z to describe their predecessors as trying and failing to keep up with current style/trends. This term, usually applied to Millenials but equally effective at describing earlier generational tiers, is in the same descriptive wheelhouse as “basic” but describing someone who’s juuuust out of step with the trend, in a cringe-inducing sort of way.

[No, I’m not going to get into the internet conversation about whether or not the term is misogynistic and/or classist, because a) all of this is stupid, and b) I don’t care.]

The reason I bring this up is just to make one brief point: It’s really okay to be considered uncool, because it’s going to happen to all of us eventually.

Yes, yes, I know it doesn’t mean much coming from the south side of the coolness Mendoza line. I just find it funny when I see people online (often Millenials) who suddenly become dismayed at the realization that the wave of haute internet couture has passed them by, leaving them dabbing and yeeting along like so much pop culture flotsam and jetsam.

And before you “OK Boomer” me, my Millenial friend, I hasten to add (somewhat painfully) that by some definitions, I’m considered one of you. (I prefer to identify squarely as an Xennial, because I think that classification best describes me, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Here’s the bitter truth: Time comes for all of us, and there is an ephemeral window in which we each may be in step with the “cool crowd.” Most of the time, we barely realize we’re even in that window before it closes to us forever. Gather ye dank memes while ye may, children.

It’s exhausting and pointless to try to keep up with online trends. Ben Folds was right–there’s always someone cooler than you. Even if you claw your way up to “influencer” or “tastemaker” status, you’re standing on the most unsteady of perches, and all it takes is a tiny change in the cultural winds for you to come tumbling down. Frankly, your precious, limited time on this planet is better spent pursuing something of lasting (or better, eternal) value, rather than chasing the fickle feedback of your peers.

My suggestion, based on personal experience: Stop chasing the cutting edge of cool. Embrace the cheug. Enjoy what you enjoy, even if it hasn’t been popular in months (or, gasp, decades!).

Or better yet, if you’re in my particular age group, go for that “big dad energy” or something like it. It’s inevitable; might as well roll with it. Have some fun even if “fun” isn’t cool. At the end of the day, the delighted laughter of my daughters is worth infinitely more than all the likes and shares that social media can offer me.

I mean, what’s your alternative–being this guy? Don’t be this guy.

How do you do, fellow kids' has become the 'how do you do, fellow kids' of  memes - The Verge

“Please think I’m cool.”

adorable blur breed close up
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Confession: That was the thought running like a background track in my head yesterday, as I took part in a group Zoom call with two authors/podcasters whose work I admire.

I’ve tried in various ways to get into their “club” in some way over the years (with some minor level of success), but this was the first time I’ve actually interacted with them face to (screen-mediated) face. I was able to get a few words in, but otherwise, I found myself just grinning foolishly and trying unsuccessfully not to embarrass myself.

I’m a grown man with a wife and kids. I’ve got my own stuff going on, such as it is. I should be fully out of middle-school-mode. But there are still people who I can’t help but see on another plane of coolness. And despite my very best efforts, I slip right into notice me, senpai mode. I hate it.

The call went fine. When put on the spot to perform a bit of dramatic reading (don’t ask, it’s a long story), I bungled some of my dialogue and felt like a goober. Then I tried too hard to be funny at the very end of the call, so that when it finally ended, I spent the next hour-plus kicking myself for being such an irredeemable dork.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. There’s another podcaster whose work I enjoyed for years, and when I was finally able to talk to him during a live call-in show, I got tongue-tied and said something stupid. For the months/years that followed, while I was active in the live chats during various broadcasts, I was never really recognized as a “regular” by the host or the chat group. Eventually, I dipped out and stopped listening/engaging with that show at all, not out of malice but really just disappointment that I couldn’t break into the circle.

What’s the point of all this? Shoot, I don’t know. I’m just talking here, gang.

Maybe what I’m getting at is this: it’s really easy to chase attention, recognition, and a sense of belonging among those we think are cool, talented, and more “together.” But maybe the thing we should be focusing on most is just doing our own thing and being content with that.

But, then again, you know how it is: about to hit 40, looking at the successes and accomplishments of your peers, comparing yourself to the people around you, second-guessing your life choices. Typical Wednesday.

That’s all I got. See ya later, space cowboy…