Death of the Cool

True confession time; this may shock you, coming from someone who has collected toys and used computers since grade school, but I have never, ever been thought of as “cool”. When I was a young man, I might have fantasized about being a “cool guy”, but the reality never clicked. I’m more of an awkward misfit, or a borderline “nerd”. It doesn’t bother me. I accept who I am, and my place in society.

Actually, that’s a fib. It’s not self-acceptance that makes me ambivalent regarding my perceived “coolness”, or lack thereof. It’s the fact that I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no one is cool.

Take a look at yourself, right now. You’re using a computer. You ever see a cool person use a computer? Of course not. No one cool uses a computer. No one looks cool using a computer. Trust me, I use one all the time, and have for the past quarter-century. I look like a hunched-over, squinting asshole. And no matter how expensive or coveted any aspect of your computer area is, you do too.

Take the most glamorous, exciting, mysterious movie star you can think of, and picture them squatting in front of a computer monitor, pecking away at a keyboard like a dink. Robert Mitchum for example, or Raquel Welch. Note how the image robs them of every single ounce of intrigue, and transforms them into a dull, slumping hedgehog. The mere act of operating a home computer is the polar opposite of coolness. Meanwhile this is something we now do every day, while racking our rotting brains as to why every single other person alive seems like a fucking asshole.

I’d say the odds are great that you’ve established a tangential relationship on social media with one or more people whom you considered a “celebrity”, only to find your admiration of them rapidly deflating, because it dawned on you that they’re just another petty nerd staring at a screen. Nobody cool uses social media. You know how I’m so sure? Because they’re on social media. Cool people are busy doing cool shit. They don’t waste time farting around with websites and phone apps. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are big juju on the internet. Do you think those assholes are cool? Outside of their estimable wealth, would you ever want to be like them? I offer that no, you would not.

Someone who is known for “being cool” naturally appeared that way to a large group of people, in person. For example, the “life of the party” at a club, or gathering. No matter what you post, no matter how edgy your opinions are, you will never be considered “cool” in any digital setting. Being truly cool requires the proper attire and attitude. It requires the ability to entertain a disparate range of personalities with minimal effort and maximum casualness. It requires charm. How the fuck you gonna “charm” anyone on the internet? With your avatar? Are you brain-damaged?

Show me a podcaster you think is cool. Really, I dare you. It isn’t possible, no podcaster is even remotely cool. The most popular ones are those who spent the most money on their setup and shill the hardest for their masters. We use viewer counts of popular podcasts as evidence of mass stupidity. Please tell me you don’t waste your time and/or respect on guys who yammer in a basement while getting loaded, or girls who cock-tease their way to lucrative “superchats”. Or women who girlishly gibber and vocal-fry over true crime and murder. Please.

And before you bring up Joe Rogan, remember the fact that the dude has a ton of cool shit going on in his life at any given moment that doesn’t involve the internet at all, and that he had a major TV career during that medium’s Final Golden Age, gifting him a lifetime of experience to draw upon for conversation. Oh, and as dumb as you might think he is, Rogan is smart enough to never show himself dicking around on a computer like a fucking dweeb.

It’s sinking in, isn’t it? You can’t think of a single cool person on the entire internet. It’s nerds, all the way down. Nerds within nerds within nerds. It should horrify you that there is unfortunate literal truth to that last sentence.

You’re on the same internet with millions of people who use their computer for nothing more than jerking off and slandering people. Many of them aren’t even ashamed of this. Do you really want to roll with that crowd? Would you want your grandparents to know about them?

Have you ever noticed that a stand-up comedian can bring an audience to riotous fits of laughter, then moments later, be the most unfunny, spiteful piece of shit imaginable on social media? How many congenial TV personalities have you seen completely implode on X/Twitter at this point? They realize that they can’t exert the control over their viewers that they want, so they reveal themselves as the awful, jealous phonies they always were. Or worse; they expose themselves as entities, brainless monkeys dancing for organ-grinders that invariably come in the form of greedy mega-corporations, or malicious NGOs. They chip away at the mystique of “the other half” with a ten-pound sledgehammer. You’ve probably lost count of how many “stars” you’ve seen collapse into black holes in just the past few years.

They’re not smart people. They’re the kind of imbeciles who labor under the delusion that wearing glasses and operating a computer equals “smart”. Watch any bad movie with a stupid main character. Is that main character wearing glasses, sitting cross-legged on a bed, while staring intently into the screen of a laptop? Of course. That’s what morons think smart people do for a living. That’s screenwriter shorthand for “intelligent woman”.

During the many months of 2023 in which I had no internet connection, I learned something. Information you acquire and don’t retain is meaningless. It doesn’t matter how easily you can look something up on the internet. Unless you learned it, that information is useless. And guess what; when it’s easy to look up anything, you learn nothing. And that goes double for the young ones. You ever wonder why they don’t know shit? Because they don’t have to. They don’t have to know how to spell words. They don’t even have to know how to write, or solve basic equations. Kids are literally given computers that do everything scholastic for them. I haven’t seen a kid with a book in twenty years. That’s what you call fucking retarded.

Try this out for yourself. Hang out with some friends and discuss popular culture until you get into a donnybrook over trivia. Then don’t use the internet, or your phone, to solve the matter. Rely on your own knowledge and that of your friends. No web, no books, only what’s in your noggins, no matter how heated things become. Keep it up for, let’s say, an afternoon.

Are you all still friends that night? How many days afterward did it take for the ones who felt stupid to get over it? Weeks? Months? You all stopped talking to each other, didn’t you?

Prior to the internet, unless you could find a person or a book to answer your question, you didn’t know. Think about that. I mean really think about what it felt like, to not know something. Maybe a song is driving you crazy because you can’t understand the lyrics. Maybe you can’t remember the proper definition or spelling of a word. Maybe you can’t place the original lineup of a band. Oh well. You don’t know. Go to bed. Move on.

Access to information is not knowledge. Knowing the location of a book in a library doesn’t mean knowing the contents of that book, does it? You’re not learning or retaining anything, you’re spectating. You have no motivation to memorize anything, nor the wisdom to know what to memorize. This is what internet access has done to you. Nothing is experiential. Everything is artificial and second-hand. You are almost literally gazing through a window at other people’s lives and experiences. You hold yourself hostage. For what?

Wanna see something really cool?

Turn off your computer and/or your phone, walk away from them, and stay there for as long as you can manage. You’ll see it.

It’s right there in front of your face.

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Filed under Bad Influences, Don't Know Don't Care, Faint Signals, Worst Of All