Rebecca Kamm

Poking a stick at ladies' issues, pop culture, and other cutting-edge curiosities.

Rebecca Kamm: How to be cool

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Beautiful tree-huggers with steady jobs and many friends: today is your day.
Photo / Thinkstock
Beautiful tree-huggers with steady jobs and many friends: today is your day. Photo / Thinkstock

This is pretty much the best thing ever. Two scientists have figured out what it truly means to be cool, following a disagreement over whether actor Steve Buscemi is cool or not. (As if that were even up for debate.)

Coolness: an empirical investigation is "the first systematic quantitative investigation of coolness", and the work of Ilan Dar-Nimrod, a psychology researcher at Rochester Medical Center in New York, and Ian Hansen, an assistant professor of psychology at York College.

Go cross-eyed like I did trying to read its dense, uncool sentences, or keep reading:

Nimrod and Hansen picked the savvy brains of 1000 Canadian university students, who played some word-association games and ranked the coolness of various personality traits.

Special attention was also paid to the difference between niceness and coolness - in case the two were confused - but actually there was no need, because it turns out today's version of cool is all about niceness anyway.

Here is what they advise if you would like to be cool right now, and simultaneously annoy the hell out of anyone over the age of 25:

* Be friendly. Small talk and inane, time-wasting interactions with absolutely everyone is the go.

* Be hot. Self-explanatory.

* Be successful. Academic success, a secure career, a decent paycheck = cool.

* Be pro-social. At this point, cool is sounding way less cool than I ever thought possible. Basically, if you volunteer or recycle or join in socially responsible activities, you're on the right track also.

Thanks to the above, citing rebel figures like Jack Kerouac and James Dean as cool will now show your age. In fact, forget them, or you may as well wear your age on a badge like when you turned five. Nimrod calls their type "contrarian cool," and says that brand of cool does still exist, but only just: "There is a smaller and different facet... which is the dark, historical coolness, revolving around counterculture, risky behavior, irony. Going into the project, it is what I perceived as coolness. [But it is] much less dominant."

Beautiful tree-huggers with steady jobs and many friends: today is your day.

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