Trends it's Time We Ended
Just step back, and quietly walk away.
It’s strange to think that some of the biggest trends of recent months have originated, and been spread, not in the streets, but the Internet. From Hotline Bling memes to the Kylie Jenner Lip challenge to the blue/black or white/gold dress – we’ve watched mega social sites like Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter take a picture or an idea and blow it across screens and continents, and seen self-expressiveness/selfie culture become a widely accepted norm that aids and abets these ideas. Often to the point where a commercial influencer will then pick up the trend and re-market it right back at us.
With so many modern movements taking place in our mobiles, is this where we want our memories to live, too? Or should we stop clicking share and let these memes meet their maker? Let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the trends of recent times - both the ones born online, and the real world ones encouraged online - and think about if we want to keep participating in them, and feeding them, to the point where they might come to stand as the official documentation of our era. If our parents’ generation’s legacy to us all is the end of polio and The Beatles; I sure as hell don’t want my kids to think of my era’s key accomplishments as photoshopping a light-saber into Drake's hand, or putting a smoothie in a soup bowl.
"It's like two dumb little segways for your feet" - TechCrunch
Hovertraxes (often incorrectly referred to as 'hoverboards'). Two motorized wheels carry you around, balanced (badly) by gyroscopes. In early 2015 celebrities started Instagramming, tweeting and Vine-ing themselves on hovertraxes - Wiz Khalifa was riding one on stage, Soulja Boy had his own branded version, 'The Soulja Board', also in on the action was Skrillex, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner... that was seemingly all it took for the hovertrax to go viral and become a must-have item.
Thus far the Hovertrax's market seems to be mostly traceable to douchebags: Trendy Corporate Douchebags who use them to commute between business lounges at airport terminals, and Young White Boy Douchebags who jackass around on them to get good content for their Instagrams. And let's not forget Sexist Jerk Douchebags, who get their kicks from uploading Hovertrax fail vids to Reddit: "Girl tries to ride her boyfriend's hovertrax for the first time".
Hovertraxes make you move only slightly faster than if you were walking, which makes them more of a novelty than a legit personal transportation device. A skateboard or rollerblades would realistically get you somewhere faster. Their auto-balancing features also suck, which makes them useful for not much except stacking it or getting yourself hospitalised.
These things don't exactly scream 'THE FUTURE!' to us.
For goodness’ sake, no more hipster hipster shakes.
Since about September last year, every inner-city cafe worth their Himalayan sea salt has been trying to outdo each other by heaping random shit on top of milkshakes to create 'freakshakes'. Donuts, waffles, caramel popcorn, honeycomb… basically the more shit you can rim the glass with before you take a photo, the higher the chance of your cafe increasing its reach on Facebook (and ergo, its foot traffic). Can’t believe we’re going to say this, but the gourmet milkshake trend has almost made us miss the days when the trending thing was requesting 'gluten free/dairy free' at cafes.
Look, it's not the stupidest business idea from the cafes' standpoint, especially given that you're guaranteed a steady spread of remarketable content from all your Insta-happy customers. However, Australia is already ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world, and the government is using our tax dollars to create ads to encourage us that 'grabbable fat' caused by excess sugar ain't a good thing... so maybe it's time to stop 'feeding' this trend. The buck surely stops at BBQ roast chook shakes...
ADULT COLOURING BOOKS
Not much of a draw...card anymore.
As if adults reading teen fiction by way of Harry Potter and Divergent wasn't insulting our adult intelligence enough, 'stress relieving' adult colouring books that now fill the shelves of bookshops where regular real books used to be! It all apparently began in France in 2012 where publishers started putting the words 'anti-stress' on the covers of colouring books (French publisher Hachette Pratique’s Art-thérapie: 100 coloriages anti-stress has since sold more than three and a half million copies worldwide) and at around about the same time UK illustrator Johanna Basford's books The Enchanted Garden and The Secret Garden was picking up speed (and have since moved copies in the millions). Soon all the illustrators caught on, and realised they could make some insane profits if they just draw a bunch of pictures and released them as a colouring book.
Now in 2016, publishers can't print these things fast enough. And they've expanded into colouring books themed on basically everything in existence (including Harry Potter). The trend has been fuelled by social media - "colourerers" (artists would be generous) post their works on Facebook and Pinterest, and offer pro tips on things like which fancy texta or gel pen to use. Lol. De-stressing via colouring also goes hand in hand with high-profile public figures such as The Huffington Post's Ariana Huffington preaching 'unplugging' and digital detoxes. Big companies like Wesfarmers are even handing them out to employees to relieve mental stress.
The thing about a childhood pastime, is that you should probably leave it back in your childhood. Sure, colouring in is relaxing, but pissing in your pants is also relaxing, and we've all stopped doing that as adults. In 2016, we recommend giving adult story books a try. They're just like adult colouring books, but with words in them!
Here's Kerrie from ANZ with her colouring book. Look how relaxed she is!
We can only hope Colour Runs 'dye out' in 2016.
“The Colour Run: #happiest5K, a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness and individuality” AKA you pay $50 to run for 5km while coloured cornstarch is fired at you from compression tanks, resulting in some seriously Instagrammable photos of you hyped up on #love and #life. Bonus, you also get to be a participant in cultural appropriation - the event is a bastardisation of Holi, a Hindu religious celebration. What’s that, ‘but it’s for charity?!’ Wrong. The Colour Run is neither a charity nor a non-profit organisation. It’s a for-profit, event management company. It says so right there on their website.
Yep, it's 'the best legal scam since the pet rock' - your entry fee is paying for some genius businessman’s third beach house. Happiest #bajillionK he ever made, eh? And he’s probably not covered in fluro-green flour, either.
THE THIGH GAP
Gap year is over.
The thigh gap is how much space exists between your upper legs when you stand with your feet together. Instagram thinspiration #goals for women, of course, is to have thighs with such small girth that they don't touch i.e. to get as much sunlight shining through your legs as possible.
A quick science lesson - whether your legs touch, or they don't, actually comes down to your body type (some people have more flesh on ther bones than others), skeletal structure and connective tissue length. That's all human physiology. The only women who reasonably have a chance of getting gappy are those with an "ectomorph" body type - for every other woman on the planet, even if they starved themselves and did a billion squats every day, they would still have thighs that touched. Which means marketing a goal like a 'thigh gap' as a desirable trait for women to possess is, scientifically, completely absurd.
It's cool to have health goals for your body, but there is no wrong way to have a body - if your thighs touch when your feet are together, you're not failing. So ladies, please delete your scary Pinterest boards.
PET INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
Time to press paws on this.
According to CBS, 15% of all Instagram traffic is related to cats - a fair but of this surely must come from the 'Gram, and its hundreds of pets who have their own profiles. There are thousands of canine and feline Kardashians that have more followers than all of us put together. Like Norm, a pug from Seattle, who has 350K followers, or Chloe, a French bulldog from New York has 100K followers. These animals sometimes get selected by big brands, or Vogue Mag, for professional photoshoots, so their owners can really cash in when their animals' accounts go viral. There's agencies dealing with social media dog influencers, some dogs even have PR firms (like Marnie the shitzu, who has 1.9million followers).
There is some merit in this, in that it keeps someone from doggy diorhoea-ing over your feed when they get a new puppy. And you don't feel nearly as creepy stalking a pet as you do a human. You do feel entirely pathetic though, firing up the 'Gram to see what your favourite Californian mini-hedgehog is getting up to. Surely humanity can do better than putting heaps of effort into making our pets Insta-famous? Or maybe I'm just jealous, 'coz Roger makes loads more money than I do. Its all over when they die though, unless you can score a posthumous book deal.
Turn away from tricky togs.
Do you have some white masking tape, brown string or fish netting lying around at home? Can you fashion them in a way that will cover up your bits? Fantastic, you too can we a walking spider web at the beach this summer! Watch out for those tan lines, ladies.
LIFE HACKS FOR EVERYTHING
Time to cut out cutting corners.
'Awesome life hacks' 'hacks that will make this the best year ever' 'simple life hacks to make your life easier'. There was so much information around last year about how to improve our lives, it's a wonder we all managed to f--k it up so bad. But question, is adding 99 more things we should do to make our lives better/more organised, onto the already massive mental to-do lists we all have going daily, really going to help matters much? Wouldn't it be better to just do the thing?
The hacks are also getting a bit out of hand. Clip your phone charger to your desk with a bulldog clip, yeah ok that's handy... but turn your plunger coffee waste into a cheap body scrub? Cling film your computer keyboard so you don't get crumbs in it? Probably tipping the scale more at the crazy end than the clever one.
'Hashtags that changed the world' is a news headline you never see, for a reason. Hashtag activism, clicktivism, slacktivism, whatever you want to call it, in the age of the Internet, every form of social justice is accompanied by an online movement, and in 2015, profile pic changes, plus hashtags standing in as a way for lazy people to pretend they're making some kind of difference, was more rampant than ever. #IllRideWithYou #BringBackOurGirls #BlackLivesMatter #StopGamerGate #PrayForParis #LoveWins...sure, they get the attention of big media and raise public awareness - arguably no one in the larger public realm would feign caring about something as niche as ethics in video game journalism without the #GamerGate movement - but sitting behind your computer hashtagging stuff can encourage some less-than-constructive dialogue and incoherent musing, and turns the focus onto your own selflessness.
Comedian Anthony Jeselnik nailed it in his Netflix show Thoughts & Prayers:
This is who I make fun of when I make a joke on Twitter the day of a tragedy: the people who see something horrible happen in the world and they run to their social media and they all write down the exact-same thing: “My thoughts and prayers.” ... Do you know what that’s worth? Less than nothing. You are not giving any of your time, your money or any of your compassion. All you are doing is saying, “Don’t forget about me today.”
Hashtag activism is never going to be as tangibly effective as taking to the streets (as Sydney-based individuals did recently in protest of the new lock-out legislation laws), joining local organisations for social justice, contacting people with the power to implement change, or donating your money or volunteering your time to a cause. If 2015 was about online awareness building for important social issues, let's put the focus in 2016 on making some real life impact.
F--k off the fruit soup.
How many times have you been a hung dog on a Sunday morning, literally sweating vodka, only to go on your Instagram and get pummelled by health nuts' carefully composed pics of their nutritious breakfasts? I feel like the worst offenders lately are photos of 'smoothie bowl'/ 'Acai bowl' lovers, sitting by the pool cradling their "nourishing" bowls of purple sludge topped with little pieces of banana in precise rows. Accompanied by heaps of high five / praise emojis.
A smoothie bowl is pretty self-explanatory. Instead of drinking a smoothie in a glass you drink it from a bowl. Like... fruit soup. Although if you ask a smoothie bowl fanatic, a 'smoothie bowl' is so much more than a smoothie in a bowl - apparently the smoothie consistency is thicker yada yada... there's even people out there that claim they never liked smoothies until they started drinking them out of a bowl. Say what? They also have a bunch of shit on top - fruit and muesli and coconut, usually arranged in aesthetically pleasing rows. Mostly thanks to that appealing aesthetic - they've blown up on Insty, going from something that people started making for brekkie at home, to being on the menu at cafes, to now whole establishments opening dedicated to smoothie bowls (Ohana Bar, etc). At some point you have to wonder if finding wild new ways to arrange slices of Kiwi fruit on top of breakfast is really intriguing enough to hold society's interest for much longer. They're supposedly good for your health, although all those toppings equal some serious extra sugar, surely. Oh well, at least there's one positive to the smoothie bowl trend - its finally killed off the smoothie-in-a-mason jar trend.
Hold onto the confidence, not the terminology.
An American uni student caused the Dad bod acceptance phenomenon to go viral last year with an essay titled “Why Girls Love the Dad Bod.” The author wrote that her friends are increasingly hot for guys with bodies that scream “I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time” because they find this more “natural, human, and attractive.” Seth Rogen, Kanye, Jason Segel, Will Ferrell, and Jay Z have all been hailed as public figures whose body shape sits somewhere between fit and flab.
In 2016, ‘Dadbod’ seems a pretty unnecessary term to have in our popular culture vernacular. Excess weight is probably not part of the healthy lifestyle society should be advocating – ‘Dadbod’ becomes worrying as a term if it’s being used as an excuse for unfit, unhealthy, overweight guys to justify lifestyle choices that ultimately won’t benefit their mental or physical long-term health. The important thing is that everyone is proud of their body, and looks after their health – any kind of body-related terminology / public standard is just going to hinder that. Whatever you got, if you hold it with confidence, that’s what makes a dream man in womens’ eyes. No girls are going to ever, in earnest, ask to feel a guy’s biceps - but if you’ve got a Dadbod and it’s getting you down mentally, to the point where you’re not feeling confident or enjoying life, don’t let the elevation of the term in popular culture stop you from making yourself some health goals.
FAST FOOD MASH-UPS
Farewell to Franken-food.
Is it someone's job to just sit in the fast food labs coming up with hybrid food experiments that benefit multiple brands, and when they find the most nefarious one, they give it the green-light for mass production? Cronuts, cruffins, macaronuts, waffle tacos, Ramenritos, Ramenburgers, KFC Double Down Sandwiches... ugh we get it, Food x + Food y = mega-sales.
At first you're like HAHA YES! and then you're like 'but I'd never eat it' and then you're like 'maybe I would try it... I mean, I like both those things' and then you're like 'nahhh' and then you're like 'okay but only because I'm drunk and hungry and you dared me' and then you're like 'I'm definitely gonna throw up'.
It's gone too far. In the future, peddling these kind of mash-ups will be illegal.
THE KYLIE JENNER LIP CHALLENGE
It completely sucks.
ICYMI, last year teenage girls (and a few intellectually stunted adults) went through a phase of attempting to recreate Kylie Jenner's pouty lips (which look the way they are due to surgical fillers) at home, sharing the results using the hashtag #KylieJennerLipChallenge.This trend had us yearning for the return of more innocent days, when girls used to use snakebite venom lipgloss to make their lips swell up.
They achieved this via placing their mouth over the opening of cups and shot glasses and sucking in until the air vacuum causes their lips to swell up. Some went as far as to use actual vacuums to create the vacuum. The science behind this is called - "vessel engorgement" - when you suck, you induce negative pressure, which causes blood vessels fill with blood, setting off an inflammatory cascade of histamine chemicals, which flood your soft tissue and swell up your lips.
Unfortunately, if you do it for a long time, it also bruises your lips. It's basically a hickey on your lips. Although unlike a hickey, the damage extends beyond one night.
Honorable Shit List 2016 Mentions: Netflix & Chill, 3D Nail Art, Crossfit, Duck Face, ClickBait Headlines, Flavoured Waters, Frank Body Scrub, ActiveWear, #Fitspo, Dabs,