Is coolness wearing a leather jacket and slicking your hair back? Or is it "a measured rebellion" within established boundaries? One big thinker tells us that being "cool" is sort of like a cult, at least from a sociological standpoint.
Are you cool? Senior Editor of The Atlantic Derek Thompson could probably tell you. He's hardly The Fonz, but he's established a definition of cool that holds up in a sociological way. He posits that coolness is a measured rebellion against an established mainstream, or societal norm. A good way to think of cool is how creative some kids could be by rebelling within the rules of a school uniform—it would be silly to show up naked, for instance, but how cool was the kid who popped his collar and wore sunglasses between classes? Super cool. Derek Thompson defines "cool" as bending the rules as far as they'll go without necessarily breaking them, and his talk with us is as fascinating as it is concise. Derek Thompson's latest book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.