“Trend” used to describe something that was popular. You would see real world (empirical) evidence, like people actually wearing or doing the thing that was trending.
But the word “trend” or “trending” got a silent rebrand.
And now, while “trend” is still used to describe things that are popular (like on Twitter when a topic is “trending”), it’s also used to describe things that actually aren’t popular: “fake trends.”
While it may seem silly, you need to know what fake trends are and how they are wreaking havoc on your mental health.
Old “Trends” Are Not “New” Trends
After a quick google search I found an article discussing 90s trends. A pull on the heart strings, I reminisced about butterfly clips, chokers, and flannels. And even though I didn’t partake in bandanas or denim-on-denim, I saw enough people wearing it to know they were popular.
But the 90s seem to be where “trends” as we know it stop, and fake trends take over.
As shown here with this article referencing 2020 “trends”. All of which were never popular. Have you seen anyone unironically with latex balloon pants, a baguette purse, three-toed footwear or Kentucky friend crocs?
Actually, I’ve never seen anyone wear those “trends”. Didn’t know any of those things existed until today.
Sometimes I’ll see an article titled something like “Millennials Feeding Cats via Bottles to Simulate Breast Feeding.” And I think, “no the fuck we’re not.”
Or I’ll see an article that incorrectly claims drinking pee is a new self-help trend.
Fake trends are extreme. They are created to grab your attention so the site publishing them can get traffic… or sell you something.
And if you read it from a news source you trust, you could believe something even though deep down you know it’s silly.
Fake Trend Fake Narrative
Fake trends are something you need to be aware of because they create a false narrative of the world that can make you feel depressed or stressed.
Can you imagine people in 100 years seeing articles lauding the fake trends. They are going to think we lived in a time where every dude walked around in a romper, we all drank our pee and breast fed our pets. (Sidebar: I kinda really want this to happen)
“I knew I was right about those crazy millennials. Now they are using pinecones as toilet paper.”
NO THE FUCK WE’RE NOT BARBRA!
This false narrative may be silly, but it has very serious repercussions. It can:
- Make people feel disconnected and alone: “I don’t want [inset fake trend], I’m not like anyone else.”
- Have vulnerable individuals think there is something wrong with them when there isn’t: “I don’t want to [inset fake trend], there must be something wrong with me.”
- Put pressure on people to do things that aren’t healthy: “I don’t want to [inset fake trend], but it’s trending so I’ll try it.”
- Deter people from trying self-help: “I don’t want to [inset fake trend], self-help is not for me.”
- Give fake evidence to justify faulty thinking: “I new self-help was kooky, now they are all [inset fake trend].”
- Create separation and animosity towards groups: “the weirdo millennials are [inset fake trend], that entire age group is nuts.”
- Fuel hatred and loneliness: “the weirdo millennials are [inset fake trend], they are infuriating.”
- Create a “war” between age groups: “the weirdo millennials are [inset fake trend], back in my day we didn’t do dumb stuff like that.” (surree ya didn’t)
- Create false evidence that forwards distorted thinking: “the weirdo millennials are [inset fake trend], the world is doomed.”
Overgeneralizations Are What’s Actually Trending
Calling outlandish things a trend has negative repercussions on many levels. Because fake trends are overgeneralizations which can lead to depression and anxiety.
Let’s break that down.
A real trend is a generalization. A classification of something that is/was popular. So saying “a lot of women in the 90s wore butterfly clips” is a statement grounded in reality.
But a fake trend is an overgeneralization and overgeneralizations are unhealthy thinking patterns that fuck with your mental health.
Think of an overgeneralization like a suped up generalization. So while generalizations are healthy thought patterns that help you classify the world, in this case, too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.
Overgeneralizations are unhealthy. They trip you up and cause more harm than good. They gotta go.
And even though “a lot of people drank their pee for self help in the 2000” is a dumb statement, you still need to address it. Because when you see multiple articles reporting the same fake trends, even the smartest people may start to believe the fake trends are real.
We All Suffer
Already pitted against each other, fake trends can create further separation, keeping people from making meaningful connections and can leave people feeling disconnected and alone.
Fake trends fuel negativity and separation.
Not only that, fake trends can create an inner turmoil. Some people get really heated over these fake trends and feel the need to protect the status quo when there’s nothing to protect.
Seriously, how many people could have saved hours of their life and mental energy by not arguing over a fake trend on the internet?
Answer: unknown but a lot.
How to Combat Fake Trends
The first step to combating fake trends is awareness.
And hey, kudos to you, you just did that part here!
Now think about the fake trends acknowledge they are fake and designed to grab your attention.
You’ll start noticing them in real time and shrug them off or get a good laugh.
If fake trends are hard to shake, remind yourself that just become someone said something is a trend doesn’t mean it actually is trending. So if you see something “trending” take it with a grain of salt, but I’d encourage you to still check it out with an objective view—you could get a few laughs.
Photo by Bekky Bekks