July 07, 2014

Eleanor Mills (@eleanormills) - When it's cool to be dumb, Ctd

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Eleanor Mills wrote in the Sunday Times of July 6 2014:
"Being “cool” was about rebelling: an urge to be doing what I shouldn’t — because I could. At 13 I would slink off to pubs in Covent Garden with my best mate — we’d tell her mother we were going to the cinema — and pretend to be 18 or older. We would drink and flirt and get into trouble, revelling in the newly honed power that we had over men, and then run off home on the night bus with our child-rate photocards.
And more:
"By 14 and 15 I was going clubbing (Phil Salon’s Mud Club, the Wag, Heaven) and dancing until the small hours. I was even interviewed by Paula Yates for a Channel 4 series she was making called Too Much Too Young.
She explained the report:
"Most school dropouts do not become pop stars. Indeed a large American study, just published in Child Development — a prestigious psychology magazine — found that indulging in minor delinquency, early romantic attachments and drug use at age 13, 14 and 15 might make you popular for a few years but is correlated with “long-term difficulties in close relationships... as well as significant problems with alcohol and substance use [along with] elevated levels of criminal behaviour” in early adulthood."
"The authors of the study suggest an early adolescence such as this is linked to “a heightened desire for peer popularity and to short-term success with peers”. Certainly a large part of the appeal was being able to talk about it afterwards; relatively minor deviant behaviour at that stage is enough to mark you out as “cool” to other young teens too fearful (or more likely too sensible) to want to replicate such acts."
She said of her youth:
"This is not a study that I found easy to read. For most of my teenage years I was obsessed by being cool. (In fact, and this shows how geriatric I am, it wasn’t called cool then; I was desperate to be “trendy”.) It wasn’t just about what to wear — although I committed some pretty heinous sins in that department, the mid-1980s nadir probably being a black flying suit accessorised with fluorescent yellow scarf, earrings and — eek — socks."
And more:
"Unsurprisingly, the research shows that such minor misdemeanours stop being enough of a “cool” factor as children grow up and the popularity dividend they provide declines as the rest of the peer group catches up. To keep their cachet, the cool kids then have to behave in ever more extreme ways and, hooked on the social status it gives them, continuing to have that cachet becomes a lens through which they measure their self-esteem. The trajectory becomes worrying."
And then finally:
"One of the great things about growing older has been the joy of uncool friends and pastimes and less edgy but more real pleasures — mountains not nightclubs, swimming in the sea rather than staying up till dawn, loving and being loved for your real self rather than for an image, seeking solace in a special other, not crowds at parties. As parents we owe it to our children to show them the deeper joys of life and to praise the geek trajectory, be the tortoise not the hare. All in good time — don’t be in a hurry for grown-up pleasures: there is the whole of the rest of your life to enjoy them."
In full here.

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