"It’s about infinitely flexible, sunny appropriation."
At what point did a generation shed the pressure of “figuring it out”? At what point did we no longer feel the need to answer the question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”?. I’m sure there is a long list of factors, including a social promiscuity only afforded in an internet age, and an economic promise that’s held true since WWII and only recently fallen completely apart (ie. commit your life, your identity, your soul to a life as a “company man” in exchange for a safe, predictable, and prosperous life).
Somehow, a generation has unburdened itself from the demand for maturity, the need for a 5-year plan, the pressure to adopt an identity with clear and defined edges. The “self” is now a fluid concept. And rather than panicking over the lack of a solid foundation, we are embracing the freedom. It’s not that there is no more normal (the so-called “post-normal”), it’s that now everything is normal.
"Basically, normcore has… more to do with personalities: it’s the idea that an individual adapts to a situation at hand and embraces the normalcy of where they are and who they’re with. So you could go to a football match during the day and wear a replica football strip like everyone else, then go to a cyberpunk night later on and wear head-to-toe Cyberdog. Normcore represents a fluidity of identity that’s emerging in youth culture: a willingness to forgo a consistent individuality in order to embrace acceptance. As Luke O’Neill puts: ‘Normcore then, in its pure state, is about empathy and connectivity.’”
(It always comes back to the Human Universals)
I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where each new hobby was fully supported, each new curiosity enthusiastically encouraged. Someone recently accused me of “collecting hobbies”. I do collect hobbies. I also collect passions, curiosities, threads of questioning, social groups, personalities, heritages, etc. As a generation comes of age being completely comfortable not knowing exactly who they are and perpetually figuring it out, we’ll see more interesting lives take shape, more daring ideas, more diverse thinking.
It’s the most valuable lesson we can learn — that we all need to go through a painful, awkward un-maturing process if we want to be as authentically ourselves as we can be. In a Benjamin Button like process, we can all crawl back in time: at first we will have a hard time admitting that we don’t know ourselves as well as we had thought; then, all over again, we traverse the awkwardness of our teenage years: self-conscious, scared, and trying to just fit comfortably into the world as we shape and reshape ourselves; then ultimately we get back to a child-like place where we have few concerns other than satisfying curiosity and engaging in pure play. We go from having a stake in the ground on who we are to playing with and entertaining all the possibilities of who we could be.
There is a thread in our culture that is still demanding that a generation grow up. But it’s not going to happen that way. This isn’t a group of the lost and lazy who have deferred adulthood. We are comfortable in the fluidity that the world now affords. And so we continue to play. They play gets more and more sophisticated, the consequences larger and deeper.
Best learn to play. Best get comfortable. Best start to un-mature.
Thought I would throw in some links to some ways to engage in some sophisticated play, for the newly un-matured:
Killscreen Magazine : an amazing journal-style publication covering “the intersection between games, play, and other seats of culture from art to music to design.”
Geoff McFetridge: every.single.thing — so good!
Patatap: just click the link and start playing!
Playmobil - *I* collect these — my kids are too young. They would choke.
Teenage Engineering: amazing sound toys (that I wish I had)
Yuichi Yokoyama: his stuff is minimal but puts your brain to work and completely absorbs you.