Did awesome kill cool?

cool (kūl)
adj., cool·er, cool·est.

  1. Neither warm nor very cold; moderately cold: fresh, cool water; a cool autumn evening.
  2. Giving or suggesting relief from heat: a cool breeze; a cool blouse.
  3. Marked by calm self-control: a cool negotiator.
  4. Marked by indifference, disdain, or dislike; unfriendly or unresponsive: a cool greeting; was cool to the idea of higher taxes.
  5. Of, relating to, or characteristic of colors, such as blue and green, that produce the impression of coolness.
  6. Slang.
    1. Excellent; first-rate: has a cool sports car; had a cool time at the party.
    2. Acceptable; satisfactory: It’s cool if you don’t want to talk about it.
  7. Slang. Entire; full: worth a cool million.

I recented posted thoughts on the word “awesome” and realized that a very similar phenomenon occurred around 1989 when I moved from Vancouver to California in 1989. I clearly recall that I heard people at Silicon Graphics using the word “cool”. And, it made me feel good. And so, right on cue, I noticed that I was using the word more often, and it made me feel good. The funny part is that I was addicted to the word “cool” in the 70’s–when I actually was slightly cool–and so it felt very natural to me to re-adopt an old friend.

Somehow the genes for “cool” were dug up by someone and reintroduced into the population in the late 80’s. I noticed “cool” grew with the same skyrocketing frequency as “awesome” did recently. Initially it was used by hip, younger types or artsy/techy intellectuals, and gradually spread out to the surrounding community, later getting to everyday America, and eventually getting time on our media (TV, radio, and film). Eventually, it sorta burned out as we became immune to it’s buzz. Just like a virus…

Since “cool” has proven that it is an effective virus/meme, I wonder how long it will take for it to come back with a vengence and spread it’s magic again.

One thought on “Did awesome kill cool?

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