Quartz published an interesting piece on the neuroscience and origins of “cool.”
Today, we define cool through the lens of fashion and consumption. Instagram is the fashion runway for generation thumbs. Social media influencers signal the new trends. Studies show that our medial prefrontal cortex lights up when we see something desirable in our feed.
But I found the history of the word cool most interesting.
“It was black Americans at the turn of the 20th century who first used “cool” as an expression of approval.
From blues to rock, from hip hop to Eminem, black culture is American culture.
Given the heightened racism in American politics today, it is worth examining why American culture became the cultural hegemony of the world in the first place. We are the hodgepodge of experiments.
And it is our duty to ensure American culture — one of openness and plurality — appears cool.