There’s this new campaign going around to dispel the myth about social media.
The myth that we are all awesome. That we are all put together and confident and cool.
The campaign is called “I am not cool” or @weareuncool #iamnotcool
It first caught my attention because a handful of Olympians had posted why they weren’t cool on a Facebook page.
As I looked through their reasons, I found myself wondering if what they were doing was a productive way of dispelling the myth of social media or just self-shaming. After reading a few entries, I felt a little confused.
While I can see the intention behind the campaign, I think exposing normal, everyday kinds of things and declaring them not cool only reinforces the stereotype. Like “I’m am not cool because I am 40 and still listen to Morrissey” or “I am not cool because I write blog posts on Friday night while my husband watches Star Wars.” We say this stuff thinking we are declaring something great for the world and all it does is perpetuate our shame on said topics (for the record, I have absolutely no shame about the aforementioned statements).
Big deal, right?
The deal is this. We are not alone in any of our experiences. For most of us these things are regular, normal, everyday things. Then someone, somewhere told us that stuff wasn’t cool. Then we believed them.
Yesterday, I posted a picture of Maya Angelou’s book cover “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I remember reading that book and feeling connected with her at a deep level – like, connected for realsies with a person for the first time ever. Even though we had come from completely different backgrounds, at the gut level, we were connected. I connected with her brutal honesty, yet beautiful truths. I connected with her humanity and her grace in spite of abuse. I connected with the spirit she had to persevere and continue her journey.
To be who she was to be.
I saw her triumph, not in perfection, but in her humanity – her brokenness, her shame.
And she wanted out of that shame.
We all do.
I think by declaring “I am not cool” and then listing all the reasons why we aren’t, is perpetuating the very shame we want freedom from.
One, because it is still form of self-shaming. I don’t like these things about me.
Two, because it glamorizes the already cool people and makes them cooler. The really, really uncool people are probably not going to participate in this. The misfits, the outcasts, they are not proud of their “uncoolness” – they are mortified to be discovered.
Three, most of the reasons people are listing as uncool are actually things that make people kind of awesome.
I’m actually a little offended that all the things people think are uncool are what I think makes me cool.
I don’t want anyone else’s standards to define cool or uncool for me.
I connected with Maya Angelou in her book through her experience. She was not trying to declare coolness or not.
She just was.
Like, we don’t need a list of things to make us cool.
And we don’t need a list of things that make us not cool.
In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to come up with at list of things that are uncool about me because I don’t categorize myself like that.
I categorize myself as a human being. An imperfect person wishing and hoping to bring just a little light to those people who may need it. I’ve been places that people are now. I’ve experienced hurt in the past that people are experiencing now. I’ve harbored bitterness and anger towards people and have learned forgiveness. Forgiveness that people need now.
Forgiveness I’ve needed in the past. Forgiveness I need now.
Here’s the catch though. I’m not ashamed of any of that. It doesn’t make me cool or not. I’ve grown in some areas and I’ve remained stagnant in others.
I get what the campaign is trying to do, but seriously…let’s not get all wrapped up in displaying our uncoolness because we think it’s a good cause.
Let’s just do what we do. Be human and stuff and forget about what to label it.
Are we cool?