If we’re gonna get pedantic (why not? I have no plans), we get the word trending from an Old English word (trendan) with Germanic roots. It was a verb that meant “turn in a specified direction”. By the 19th century, its figurative definition made its way onto the scene; “to assume a general tendency”. Now, in the 21st century, we have the added definition of popularity on the internet. What does this mean for a blog that’s sincerely attempted to stray from trends in an effort to introduce one author’s thoughts into the blog-o-sphere? Let’s pontificate. I bet it means important things.
Okay, it probably doesn’t mean much. It means my original goal was to introduce people to things that I think don’t get enough attention by the mainstream. You might think that’s cool, you might think it’s pointless; either way, I would make the argument that there can be a lot of pressure on an individual to engage with a culture that revolves around trends. For some people that means taking an active role in perpetuating the trend. For others (me, because I am actually an old woman who found herself in the body of a 21 year old college student, somehow), that means learning just enough about the trends so that you know what people are even talking about when they start a conversation with you. I’m not someone that usually stays “on top” of whatever is popular; I didn’t keep up with the Kardashians, I don’t use Twitter, and I would rather veg out on old serial dramas on Netflix than the new, critically acclaimed Netflix original of the hour.
This is not to say that any of those things is bad. They’re (probably) not. Society relies on trends to build connections. Keeping up with mainstream trends, like what’s popular on television, has historically been one of the best ways to enable and enhance social participation, allowing a sort of cultural citizenship to take place; being part of the same audience allows people to enjoy the feeling of belonging and identity, which is true across all media, television, print, and otherwise.
The phenomenon that goes against most of this could arguably be the culture of memes on the internet, which come from obscure places before being spread to the most visible internet platforms; they aren’t necessarily trending, until very suddenly, they are, before they’ve gone back to relative obscurity.
Trending culture can very quickly snap things up, so quickly that sometimes society doesn’t even fully understand what it’s propagated before it’s propagating it. Let’s use a pre-internet example. Punk rock emerged as a rejection on mainstream 1970s rock music. By the 1980s, post-punk bands were already a thing, and by the 1990s, punk, a genre that was originally about counterculture, had essentially been adopted into the mainstream. In the words of musician Thurston Moore, “We didn’t know what punk was until it was dead.”
I think that might be the effect of most trends. We can’t see how they’re important or what they’ll really mean for our culture until they’re not trends. Perhaps, with the phenomenon of rediscovery, we get a second chance at interpreting and understanding them. But maybe that’s just me. And if it is, well, then I guess this won’t be trending.