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Is Trendy and Fashionable Bad?

Green MBAs, alternative energy, organic food, healthy eating, regular exercise … all trendy and fashionable; is that bad?

We drove in a quiet Prius through a beautiful northern California landscape for several hours, talking. I complained about McCain advertising talking about Obama instead of McCain. Ralph Ishmael  (per the comment below) said the accusation was legitimate: Obama is trendy and fashionable and popular, which is bad, he said, because it becomes a bandwagon. And bandwagons get in the way of discussion, analysis, and debate.

I asked: "so is trendy bad, per se? Do we never have the phenomenon of good healthy trends, like, say — I thought these examples would be obvious — a trend towards green business and healthy eating?"

Yes, he answered, those are all bad; to the extent that they are trendy, and trendy drowns debate.

But do we want debate about environmental or social or health consciousness? Aren’t those trends just plain good for all, good for the earth, good for business, good for humans? I didn’t want to just accept the idea that trendy drowns debate, but still, for the sake of argument, I thought these truths would be self evident.

But Ralph says global warming isn’t yet accepted as scientific, and needed debate and discussions are stifled now. Scientists with counter evidence are shouted down.

I was surprised. I thought educated people have accepted that environmental worries, particularly the phenomena related to what we call (for lack of a better name) global warming. Haven’t they? The fact that green and organic and healthy are marketable now, people who can afford to worry are worried, that seems all good to me.

I think "trendy" and "fashionable" are characteristics that are neither good nor bad, but neutral. Trends can be pushing bad things too, like (in my opinion) the trend towards cosmetic surgery today, or the trend towards big SUVs a few years ago. But when trends reinforce behavior that is good for people, earth, humanity, etc., then that’s good. No?


  • Luke says:

    I agree that these concepts and trends may be fleeting in the short run, although I hope that won't be the case over the long run.

    In the short run, a nation with a negative savings rate is more likely to support offshore/Alaskan drilling when the cost of oil hits their wallet hard. Especially so-called working class voters with little disposable income.

    Then what happens when the price of oil drops to $70, as some have predicted? That, more than anything, will test these trends in the short-run. I imagine that some of those who jumped on in order to be cool will jump off when it's no longer cool or trendy.

  • Maura says:

    I agree that trends promoting healthy behavior are good, but when the public is completely consumed by one idea, people are less likely to listen when important new information arises that contradicts the trend. Also, when people do something healthy because it is a trend and not because it is the right thing to do, is that still good? Will the people continue to be healthy even when the trend ends and it is not "cool" anymore?

  • Andy says:

    I'm inclined to agree with "Ralph" about trendiness stifling real scientific debate, particularly in the global warming issue. I used to be a major skeptic about that point, but the more I learned about the untrendy minority scientists, the more I found their science was funded by oil and energy money. Now I'm not sure what to think!

  • Genuine Realist says:

    Call me Ishmael.

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