You’ve all heard the now stereo-typically hipster claim from someone before (or maybe you’ve said it yourself a time or two). It goes a little something like this:
“I liked that before it was cool.”
Or the above quote’s evil twin:
“I like that until it was cool.”
We’ve read and heard these one-liners enough that, really, one does have to wonder: does popularity ruin things? Or, in other words, does success automatically make something suck?
There are several faces to this trivial discussion we could look at before landing at a final conclusion.
For starters, it’s no secret that everyone wants to feel special.
Perhaps your thing is a certain style of clothing that no one at your school but you wears, or a cool band you found buried in the lists of hidden indie options on iTunes. By being the only one, or among a small group of like-minded peeps, these distinct interests become a form of your own personal brand. They make you feel like you. Then -suddenly- when everyone starts dressing like you or displaying interest in all of the same things you do, those things no longer give you the ability to feel unique. It’s as if the masses have robbed you of your own special identity and adopted it for themselves.
To any of you who have inevitably experienced this phenomenon (especially all of the once outcast geeks of the world), I recommend this:
Embrace it when what you like becomes popular. It means it will be more readily available and you can talk about your passions with more people.
As a personal example: I love wearing dresses. I’m a girlie-girl when it comes to fashion style, so I wear dresses whenever I get the chance. Formal gowns at Broadway shows and weddings, along with more professional styled dress suits at work. I love ’em, love ’em, love ’em! The problem was: a lot of everyday department stores didn’t sell them back in the day, so I had to take my pickings from the more prom/formal shops and hope they had some selections that were casual enough or professional enough for me to wear to work or on my days off.
Now: dresses are in! You can find a massive selection of adorable everyday and professional wear dresses at just about every department store, and at hundreds of online stores that have cropped up all over the web. Am I upset that more people are dressing in what was once “my style”? Absolutely not! I’m just happy that I have so many fabulous options to choose from now (though my wallet gets a little stressed, I must admit.)
Similarly, if a once unknown band you heart becomes more popular, it’ll be more likely they’ll show up in your local area for a live show, and be encouraged to keep doing what you love them for: making music! Same with you favorite restaurants, local businesses, television shows, and so on. Having your favorites become popular is a good thing!
But what about when popularity makes something seem “uncool”?
Here’s what I have to say about that:
Like what you like and like it hard. Screw what everybody else is into.
Whether you like Justin Beiber or Metallica, I hope you like the heck out of whatever it is you really like and aren’t ashamed to blast that shyte up loud and proud and sing along when you feel compelled to do so.
There’s nothing cool about bashing other people’s tastes, but confidence on your part is just plain sexy. (Ever heard of Bronies? If not, they’re a bunch of dudes who openly LIKE the little girls’ television show, “My Little Pony.” How’s THAT for confidence?!?!)
But what about when popularity changes the thing I was into?
This happens when something, such as a celebrity, band, or show alters their usual routine in an effort to appeal to a more “main-stream” audience. In this case, if you no longer like the metamorphosed thing anymore, that’s okay, no one is forcing you to. It’s okay to listen to those original records or re-watch the pilot season of that low-budget show and reminisce nostalgia, even if that band or show doesn’t ring a bell with you anymore.
However, just because something changed to become more popular, or changed because it become more popular, doesn’t mean it’s okay to tell that thing’s new-found fans how “lame” they are for liking something that you once enjoyed. It’s not their fault Kate Hudson went from singing rock ballads to pop songs about plastic bags as Katy Perry. Some people dig that unrecycable reference, and they are more than welcome to their own opinion.
In conclusion: popularity doesn’t “ruin” anything. You may no longer like something because it changes due to that popularity, but if you still do, please don’t be ashamed of being interested in what thousands or millions of others are. It’s okay to join the crowd from time to time, and it doesn’t make you any less cool for doing so.