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Trendiness is in the Eye of the Early Adopter
by Mad Dog


Being trendy doesnít exactly bring out the best in us. It makes us wear unflattering clothes, eat food we donít really like, watch TV shows we canít stay awake through, and read unreadable books because everyone tells us how much they loved them.
Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but trendiness, well, itís way down the bottom of the list sharing a spot with ugliness. If you donít believe it, just look at any woman over the age of 30 wearing a Paris Hilton miniskirt and crop top, the kid next door whoís wearing huge baggy jeans that not only look like oversized Bermuda shorts but are the size of their namesake country with the waistband hanging below his, uh, hips and his underwear pulled up to where his waistband should be, or anyone wearing Uggs. Hey, thereís a reason their name is short for ugly and a homophone for ugh. But full length mirrors have never stopped anyone from a following a trend. Face it, if you want to be trendy you just have to give up some things. Like self-respect.

   Being trendy doesnít exactly bring out the best in us. It makes us wear unflattering clothes, eat food we donít really like, watch TV shows we canít stay awake through, and read unreadable books because everyone tells us how much they loved them. Or would if they ever managed to get through more than half a page before picking up the latest copy of People and reading it cover to cover. Itís why we listen to gangsta rap while sitting in our pristine suburban house, and why we drink bottled water that costs more per gallon than gas instead of the cheap stuff that comes out of the tap. Itís also why we walk around wearing glowing Bluetooth earpieces 24 hours a day. Nothing says ďIím trendy and importantĒ like spending every waking moment with what looks like my grandmotherís old hearing aid stuck behind an ear.


If this is the first youí
ve heard of flaxseed ó hey, you can thank me later ó then youíre a laggard. If youíve been using it for a while, youíre an early adopter or early majority. If youíre still mourning Jerry Falwellís passing, youíre a silent majority, but that doesnít mean you shouldnít be eating flaxseed. 
   Trendiness is why we like restaurants that serve food thatís so intricately arranged it looks better than it tastes, or ones that offer a whole menu of appetizers renamed as small plates because lord knows no one would ever think of sitting down and sharing a half dozen appetizers that each cost as much as an entrťe should. Itís also the driving force behind flaxseed, which is the trendy food supplement of the week. Flaxseed, for those of you who have been too busy mailing foie gras to the Los Angeles County jail so Paris wonít starve to keep up with what the hip people are eating, is the Wheat Germ of the New Millennium. Itís high in fiber, has lots of omega-3 fatty acids, and itís being added to just about everything from tortilla chips ó ďNow with organic shade grown fair trade flaxseed!Ē ó to cereal, to brownies. And if, perchance, you accidentally buy something that doesnít have flaxseed in it, you can sprinkle some on top. It adds ant-like specks, more fiber than a cardboard box, and an earthy flavor. You know, like dirt.

   If this is the first youíve heard of flaxseed ó hey, you can thank me later ó then youíre a laggard. If youíve been using it for a while, youíre an early adopter or early majority. If youíre still mourning Jerry Falwellís passing, youíre a silent majority, but that doesnít mean you shouldnít be eating flaxseed. Heck, you can probably find some Sinless Communion Wafers with flaxseed added without any problem. If you invented flaxseed, youíre not only an innovator, but God. If thatís the case, please forgive me if I said anything to offend you.


Think of the tipping point as the moment when the sleeping trend cow tilts just enough to tip over and fall on its side. Itís the moment when something unusual becomes common. In other words, when something fun becomes boring. 
   These classifications arenít made up ó well, they are, but not by me ó theyíre part of the diffusion of innovations theory, which was formalized back in 1962 by Everett Rogers in a book called, amazingly enough, Diffusion of Innovations. Hey, no one ever said Rogers was an innovator. In it he states that adopters of any new innovation or idea can be categorized as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards, and Luddites, who wouldnít touch a trend with a 10-foot old-style pole. Just kidding about the last category, I innovated there. Hurry and adopt it before it gets too trendy.

   See, the problem is, by the time an idea gets past the early adopters itís on the way out and you should avoid it like this yearís recycled leg warmers. Hey, even Jennifer Beales isnít wearing them this time around. Though Pat Benatar might be. The point where something goes over the edge and becomes popular is called the tipping point. Malcolm Gladwell spends a whole book talking about this, a book called The Tipping Point, yet another example of an author who isnít a title innovator. Think of the tipping point as the moment when the sleeping trend cow tilts just enough to tip over and fall on its side. Itís the moment when something unusual becomes common. In other words, when something fun becomes boring. Itís when Crocs stopped being a strange, weird shoe you saw someone hip wearing and your grandmother gave you a pair for Christmas. Itís the moment you heard your favorite undiscovered bandís music in the dentistís office. Itís when your parents set up their own MySpace pages. And invited you to be their friend.

   Remember: Trendiness is in the eye of the beholder. Following a trend is easy, being a trendsetter isnít. And honesty is the best policy, so do what you want, not what everyone else is doing. With luck this will start a trend. Just donít forget where you heard it first.

©2007 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them before they become too trendy.

 

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