There’s one effect that the internet is having on culture that doesn’t get discussed much, probably because it’s too difficult to quantify or even explain. Maureen Callahan at the New York Post attempts to put her finger on it…
Once upon a time, being cool was harder than it looked: The great sleight-of-hand involved was to have all the right taste in all the right things, to be that much further ahead of the rest without ever revealing just how much effort was involved (especially for anyone growing up in suburbia), to push beyond what came before to create something that had yet to be seen, heard, experienced.
So much for that. Since the birth of the Internet and easy access to all that came before, pop culture has been recombining and regurgitating itself at at exponentially greater speed, and killing cool with it: there’s never been anything democratic about cool, until now.
It’s tough to draw the line between what’s merely being repeated and what’s actually cutting edge and cool. Because the internet IS leading to regurgitation of past trends – as part-shortcut, part-tribute. Besides, isn’t it unfair to call Lady Gaga a Madonna ripoff but conveniently forget that the Rolling Stones were just aping the early blues musicians whose records made it across the pond?
Callahan’s point is that with access to everything, instantly, past or present, we’ve become obsessed with nostalgia and it’s rubbing off on the tastemakers themselves.
But maybe “cool” was always just a progressive version of what someone else already did and the internet is simply making us more aware of these echoes…