Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Don't Be Cool.

Trooper York mentioned how embarrassing youthful passions can be in my D&D post, referencing his own comics comments in the Hulk/Marvel comics thread. Which reminded me in turn of advice given by one of my favorite people ever: Don't be cool.

The guy who "gave me my start" in becoming a professional tech writer was Jeff Duntemann, who's been blogging since before it was called blogging. Blogging is as natural a format for him as it is unnatural for me.

Jeff is kind of an alpha nerd. He's not just into tech stuff, he's into life. He's always thinking, building, pursuing, etc. Somewhere on his site is some advice. It's not this, I don't think, but more general advice to young people which includes the aforementioned "Don't be cool." In this case, "cool" meaning "detached, uninterested, un-excitable".

The phrase resonated with me because when I grew up there was some sort of continuum which ranged from "spaz" to "cool". The more excited or enthusiastic or passionate you were about something, the more you were on the "spaz" side--and the more worthy of shunning as a result.

But being a dilettante is easy. People go through life being dilettantes, never seeing the value in a deep, immersive passion.

There is a time for "cool", of course. If the jet you're flying has gone into a tailspin or your house is on fire, being dispassionate can help you operate in a rational fashion.

And maybe the clue is in there somewhere: We admire those who are calm in a crisis, and extrapolate that as though
life were a crisis.


  1. My brother was a writer for Details magazine several years ago and had to write an article about how to be cool. I just told him if you had to think about it you just ain't cool. Just do what feels right and often enough other people will be caught up in your enthusiasm. Cool.

  2. Yep.

    And even if they're not, well, that's cool, too.


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