August 30, 2014

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Studies show that it's "It’s cool to be kind…again"

We think that we know “cool” when we see it—but do we? Case in point: At the mall the other day, I happened to be standing near a group of high schoolers when a teenaged girl walked by, holding her kid brother's hand. We all heard her say, "Before we meet up with Mom, why don’t we surprise her and get her some of those flowers she likes?" Then one of the high schoolers turned to her friends and said, "Oh, wow! That's cool."

That was a surprise to me. When I was a teen, cigarettes and the Grateful Dead were cool. Before that, fast cars with fins and the bad-boy image of James Dean were cool. But buying flowers for your mom? That was so-o-o not cool. Except that now it really is, according to new research. Today, cool still lives—but it's no longer the same as the historical idea of coolness as a rebellious, tough, risk-taking, aloof youth.