Fifty Shades of Hype

Why do we so often buy into trends?

There’s a book that’s been big on the radar lately.  Perhaps you’ve heard of Fifty Shades of Grey?  I first heard of it a short while back on The Today Show.  Women especially seem to be excited about this book, buying up copies in bookstores and holding book club discussions.  They talk of its sexiness, claiming it’s so steamy and appealing that you can’t put it down.  Being a librarian, I try to keep up with reading trends and am always on the lookout for interesting reads I think my patrons might like.

So, I picked up a copy of the book and wanted to see what it was all about.  Maybe I’m weird or just out of the loop, but I struggle to understand what everyone else is oohing and aahing over.  I personally find nothing appealing about a supposedly bright young woman being so smitten with a man that she wants to be with him at all costs, even if that means being hit and mistreated by him.  Some people call it BDSM, but I call it an abusive relationship, one in which a person has no self-respect or self-esteem and will put up with anything just to be with someone.

It’s not the only time that I and others have been drawn into a popular trend.  For better or for worse, some big trends of the past decade include reality TV shows, social networking, diversity, gay rights, obesity, dieting, partisanship, coffee bars, and mini-mansions, among others.  Some trends start strong then fizzle, while some start small and continue strong.  There are some trends we really like, while there are some we just don’t understand or appreciate.

Maybe we buy into trends because we really enjoy them, but maybe we do so to be a part of the crowd.  We all want to belong and not be the one left out; we want to see what everybody else is talking about.  Generally, there tend to be more followers than leaders, so it’s possible we’re subconsciously following the the leaders or the rest of the pack at the very least.  But let’s not forget the leaders.  Why wouldn’t we also want to follow our own instincts and become trendsetters, doing things that give us personal satisfaction not to mention individuality?

Why, indeed.

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