An article was written in 2022 called “When being cool is not cool: a Catholic perspective”. This is part two offering food for thought on the topic with initial thoughts about why it is not cool to be “cool”.
As this article is being written close to the beginning of yet another school year, thoughts about the importance of instilling virtue and not vice come to mind. Below are additional thoughts on the topic of why coolness is not only uncool, but against goes against virtue.
Sadly, in our culture, there is more concern in terms of how we are perceived and appear to others. Much of this pertains to physical appearance, clothing, and popularity. Airbrushed photos grabbing for others attention on social media come before our eyes. For youth and young adults, this is challenging and sad to have to do so much work just to get attention and to make “friends” and to appear successful to the world.
Parents often feed into these personas by glorifying their kids to a point of becoming a salesperson for their kids’ popularity. Even more difficult it must be for those who are pushed aside in peer groups so that the “cool kids” can take center-stage. The reality is our persona is only a perception and not that of reality. Younger people need to be taught this as well.
It teaches selfishness
Aside from the idea of the persona is that it teaches younger people to be selfish instead of giving. When we teach kids that life is all about me and my popularity, my looks, and my happiness, there is little room for others.
The gifts and talents of others in the peer group are pushed aside so that the star can be admired and glorified. In terms of our Catholic teachings, this is the opposite of virtue. When youth and young adults should be learning the value of giving and being a part of community, it is unfortunate when this idea of a selfish lifestyle becomes prevalent. It is a wrong societal turn that needs brought to light.
Not just the young
As these ideas of self-glorification become prevalent for younger people, it doesn’t end there. These behaviors feed into the narcissism so prevalent in our world today that is popular topic of discussion. People over the age of 25, 30, 40, and beyond continue the path of a “me-centered” life which pulls down our culture.
Being cool, indeed is not cool. As we begin another school year, it is a great reminder for all of us that the things of God are what is what will bring peace, joy, and happiness. A selfish and self-centered life will not bring lasting joy in this life.
Ways to move beyond coolness
Relationship with Christ which is real and involves prayer and living a virtuous life is the answer. This must be modeled to our children by our own actions and lifestyles. We must teach our kids there is great value in being a good person, not self-focused with care for those in need. Teaching them the true value of having faith and practicing invites God into their lives in a profound way. Being cool is not cool especially when it demeans other people and diminishes virtue and faith. Let us pray as we begin another academic year for God's grace to love him above all and to strive to live better lives.