Hype Culture

Last week I lay in bed, unable to sleep, when I scrolled past Kylie Jenner posing with some bright blue bear-shaped hair supplements in her mouth. Now, the last thing I need is hair supplements – having the Indian gene leaves one with no shortage of hair (I’m actually undergoing hair laser to avoid continuous maintenance). Still, whilst I didn’t buy the bottle, I did lay there feeling curious. I thought about ordering some, simply for taste. To put a few on my tongue and take a full-faced,  triple-filtered selfie and show everyone my deliciously bright blue gummy bears. Luckily, with the knowing that spending £25 on Kardashian branded vitamins would be a complete waste of time and money, I set my phone to flight mode and let myself drift…

I wish I could bury my brain in the sand so that I didn’t spend sleepless nights worrying about the world; beating myself up for not having even tried. I couldn’t call myself an activist due to the missed protests and countless times I’ve stayed silent baring witness to ignorance; a belief that monthly donations will be a sufficient way to “play my part”. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing where to start: which cause is weighing heavily on my heart and do I have the emotional capacity to tackle it?

HYPE CULTURE. I’m a born and bred Londoner who understands that whilst our country has seen brighter days, we are by far one of the most privileged. The fact that we mostly feel safe enough to live here enables us to neglect widespread contextual issues; most of which we view through manipulated images, scattered along the pages of a third-party source. We understand things as if they aren’t really happening; are we being accurately informed or simply brainwashed? Is the aim to make us fear or keep us grossly entertained? Whatever truth is out there, there’s one thing for certain: our culture permits us to focus on whatever we want…Bullshit.

I’m trying to emphasize how much time we spend giving to those who don’t need our attention, closing our eyes to the ones who do. It’s a deliberate trap which we fall for every single time. Here are some first hand examples on what I’ve labeled as HYPE CULTURE – the nonsensical trends some can’t help but follow:-

1. Trendy hashtags. It doesn’t take more than five minutes for me to scroll through Instagram before finding images of acquaintances using hashtags such as: #Yaaaaas, #Slay, “#Lit, #OnFleek etc. WHO THE HELL made this a linguistic trend? I’m guessing Kylie Jenner but still, can we try to be a little bit more innovative? The majority of these words aren’t even words! Meh, #HatersGonHate.

2. Maya Jama & Stormy’s relationship. Okay so before my entire social circle disown and deny my existence, yes I find this couple cute and yes – they seem to be nice people. But still – COME ON! What’s with all the “Relationship Goal” retweets? You do realize that it’s very common for two young people to stay together for a couple of years, right? Perhaps we idolize them based on our own obsession with celebrity culture; buying into ideals which may or may not be a true reflection of life.

I’ll tell you who really is #Goals though – My best mate’s parents. Not only have they been together for 30+ years (raising three children, three dogs, one cat and invested in properties), they’ve maintained a healthy relationship. They have date nights, go for walks, hold hands….communicate. The goal to achieve a marriage which can withstand the test of time whilst remaining in love, for me, is real goals. And whilst I actually know these people, I would still never retweet their couple photos. #Weird.

3. Ridiculous chart music i.e. “Strawberry Champagne” & “Swalla”. Agh god, can somebody shoot me in the face already? Has anyone even listened to the lyrics of these songs? Looking at my library on Spotify anyone would mistake me for a 70 year old because I just can’t handle what’s in the charts. I get that I’m sounding very much like a stereotypical bitter grandmother but it’s as if these songs have been created to annoy me. And everybody’s singing them. Stop. The. Madness.

4. Veganism/Spiritualism. Please don’t commit murder and later serve me up as steak: the first vegan I ever met was my mother. 15 years ago my brother and I were the only vegans in town and everyone treated us like aliens ’til we caved and started eating meat again. Let’s be honest though, it does seem like everyone has jumped on the spiritualist bandwagon i.e. “I’m spiritual because I do yoga and I’m vegan”. I was kinda feeling it until I realized I was being looking down on by those who were “conscious”. Consciously annoying more like. Just because you eat bags of kale whilst standing on your head doesn’t mean everybody has to do the same to be “enlightened”. Live and let live brothers and sisters. Or write a self-righteous blog. Namaste.

5. Branded Clothing. I stepped out in an Adidas T-shirt recently and EVERYONE went bananas like “Wow Chelsea! That’s a strong T you got there” or “Oh my god babe! Wicked shirt!”.

The top was fake.

It was fake and nobody realized which made me wonder: if nobody can differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake, why are we pouring money into high brand labels? Aside from stating the obvious (they’re trendy, we like them blah blah), what’s all the fuss about? Are we suckers for advertising? Mainstream media? Fashion? We don’t like to admit it but we’re inadvertent followers, throwing money into the palms of large corporations; getting frustrated when we can’t deposit a 1 bed London flat. Sigh!

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6.  Finally, my biggest critique which I am so compelled by I MUST ADDRESS: Snapchat Filters. Ah yes, the best way to ruin a girls self-esteem. I am sick of countless filters adding halos, garlands, red lips, pink lips; all that jazz.  I know it all seems like a bit of harmless fun, but think about how many of us have changed our profiles using generic benchmark filters. You reckon we’re doing so because yellow floating leaves above our heads is a good look? Or is it because we believe we look better once reconstructed by a filter? These filters refine your nose, remove your bags, lighten your skin; enlarge your eyes. It’s disgustingly demeaning. Strange world though, look how fast we are to jump on the hype and normalize this trend. Thanks for correcting everything physically wrong with my face, Snapchat. The pressure to adhere to current beauty standards isn’t hard enough already.

 

I know I probably sound really negative and moany right now, it’s just that I’m constantly having to remind myself that there is more to life. I’ve stopped being the girl who ignores her friends at dinner whilst staring into her smartphone; I start to feel curious about meaningless hype and resist ’cause I’m scared to fall in.  Maybe I’m stating the obvious but it feels we develop habits without questioning why we’re doing what we’re doing; we allow ourselves to be swayed; to follow. We lose our uniqueness to cultural trends and numb ourselves to things desperate for our attention. Obviously, we are all free to live how we wish, but having that freedom can be taken for granted. This is ultimately the reason why I’m touching on this, because I want to stay substantially present. I want to feel alive rather than numb and so, whilst I may never be a leader, my days of following are far long gone.