Playing Doctor

Initial Visit?

Wednesday, June 8

Uncynical and Cool

How did it come to be that cynicism is thought of as cool? This’s something I’ve thought about before, and though I’ve got a good idea what’s going on, I’ve never figured out how to articulate it.

I was going to Venn it out, but—believe it or not—some things don’t lend themselves well to Venn diagrams.

But since you took to the Venn’s so well, and even sent me your own diagrams and pointed me to Venn’s on the web, I thought I might try to explain it using an algebraic matrix.

People, settle down!

I never said there wouldn’t be any math involved. Just relax, I’ve fudged some of the math concepts here, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. And we’re going to start at the end, working our way forward to make it easier.

Now—admittedly—on the surface, cynicism can seem cool, as evidenced by the following matrix, which shows how coolness and cynicism can appear the same to the outside observer. This is also the solution of the equation that we are going to work through. We’ll call it Solution1:

Laconic Confident

But we can dig beneath the surface using a matrix grid to understand what’s really going on here. These are the core distinctions between traits that only appear similar at first glance. Take a look:

No to Low Tolerance for Inconvienence Knowledgeable

Matrix of Cynicism, or Cynical1:

No to Low Tolerance for Bullshit Savvy

Matrix of Cool, or Cool1 :

Now these traits interact with people exactly the same way numbers ‘interact’ with each other in a matrix, so here we have the subjects who may interact with these traits, or Subjective1:

Stranger Co-Worker or Customer

Now what is noteworthy about this equation is that:

Cynical1 x Subjective1 = Solution1

and that:

Cool1 x Subjective1 = Solution1


Cynical1 x Subjective1 = Cool1 x Subjective1

Thus explaining the confusion between being cynical and being cool.

It is extremely important not to make a rookie math mistake and believe that because these equations are equivelent that therefore Cynical1 is the same as Cool1. This would be the same as believing that because -12 = 12 that therefore -1 = 1. We know that is not true, and this is the same concept, just a bit more complex.


Cynical1 ≠ Cool1


Tomorrow: Economies of Cool


Blogger Bewareoftheblog writes:

Whoa, I have a bit of a headache now. In a good way though.


Blogger Kristy writes:

I should just stick to the 500 club craggily tooth posts. My head hurts too, but not in a good way.


Anonymous byron writes:

I haven't checked back since the "death odor" series and that gaping wound picture. Glad I did!


Anonymous Another Dan writes:

Your post is the most wickedly hilarious thing I've read today. Venn is dead, long live the algebraic Matrix. Your Matrices are much more interesting than Steven Covey's Planning Quadrants.


Blogger dan writes:

My brain popped.


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