Hey! Look! We're Trend-Setters!

Thursday, August 13, 2009
My youngest sister is a cool kid. In the Malcom Gladwell sense. In other words, she's often one step ahead of the curve. Sure, there are a lot of things that she does that are conformist--she's an 18 year-old suburban kid going to NYU; she's bound to be conformist--but she's the kind of person who will get people to do whatever she says. Her friends don't think she's that funny, but just wait, in a few years they'll all be making hyperbolic sarcastic comments, and she'll be on to bigger, better things.

When she was in fifth grade, she decided to teach flying lessons. Knowing that she couldn't actually teach people to fly, she came up with what was basically a form of dance that focused on arm movements. Within weeks, there were 30 kids out of 60 in her grade taking flying lessons. There was a system of tests and levels and teaching certification. There was the Flyers Weekly Flier. Then a few months later, too many people wanted to take the flying teacher certification test, and there were not going to be enough students. So my sister resigned as head of Flying School, and said "if they want to continue, that's fine." And that was the end of that.

Anyway, the point is, that I am not the cool one in my family. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I'm the kid who had two posters in her room in high school: one of Leonardo daVinici and one of fractals.
Case in point I sent this West Wing e-mail to a friend

Subject line: I think the transcript speaks for itself
Body: DANNY So I'm home. By myself. Listening to my police scanner. C.J You have a police scanner? DANNY Yes, I do. C.J. Danny, you were like, President of your high school audio-visual club, weren't you? DANNY: I was, in fact, not President of the AV Club. I was vice-President. Bobby Pfeiffer was President, and that's something I don't like to talk about. C.J. : Why'd you come down? DANNY : Josh said to come by for a drink. C.J. You should have gotten here earlier. DANNY: I would have, except I was home listening to my police scanner.
In his e-mail, my friend replied: “... but did he get laid that night?”
Or, another West Wing quote comes to mind:
JOSH: I wasn’t much into squash. I was more of a Crimson guy. DONNA: Crimson? JOSH: The campus newspaper. RYAN: Yeah, that figures. JOSH: What’s that supposed to mean? RYAN: Nothing. That’s great. JOSH: Are you implying that I didn’t have a social life?
So yeah, my friends and I, were like Danny and Josh, only not in charge of covering or running the White House. We're the kids who quote West Wing.
So, I laughed a lot when I read these sentences in the book I'm currently reading: SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World.

"Or they [websites] serve an informed, elite group, such as the stylish well-informed US political magazine Slate.com, which targets political obsessives."
And then: "In the US it's now a measure of your "cool" factor as a young urbanite not just to say "Did you see Jon Stewart last night?" but also to say "I was listening to the podcast of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me from NPR this weekend." This may be small elite in the US, albeit a trend-setting group of opinion-formers."
My mind is blown. How did we become "a trend-setting group of opinion-formers?"

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

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