The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Tom Cook Headshot

Why I Avoid Cool People, and My Vision of an Impossible Utopia

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

I have studiously avoided cool people my whole life. That's not meant as a slight on those I have been friends with. By 'cool' I mean people whose egos are largely driven by them being good-looking, or having a little bit of status.

The problem with such people is that their confidence is, by its very nature, built on deeply insecure foundations. 'Looks' is such a comparative quality that these people must be on edge all the time, for fear that someone with a slightly stronger jawline or better haircut will come gliding into view and burst their fragile, designer bubble.

Equally, those who get their confidence from status are, at any moment, at serious risk of losing their mojo. You may be the boss, but only as long as the big bosses upstairs say so. You may be popular, but staying popular is a full-time job; one slip, one momentary lapse in concentration and you're behind the trend, you've missed the boat, and now you're paddling furiously in the water, screaming for them to throw down a life-preserver because you're just a nobody who never learnt to swim.

Okay I got a bit lost in my metaphor there, but what I'm trying to say is; people need egos to survive, I understand that. Without them we'd all crumple into a tiny, lifeless ball of self-doubt and despair. And everyones egos are powered by different things, I understand that too. I just wish more people got their confidence from a) being a nice person b) being good at something and working really hard at it to be successful.

That's not such an outlandish wish since we're all (most of us) nice people who fundamentally like other people. And we're all good at something, and we can all work hard when we have to.

I have this dream of a fantastical, alternate universe where people's egos are entirely powered by how nice they are. Not only that but status, wealth and fame are all powered by it too. X-Factor is now K-Factor: contestants are really kind to each other for 35 minutes, at the end of which the judges go "You were all lovely! But who's the loveliest...", and Simon Cowell gives the losers all foot rubs. The series winner is given a million quid and sent out to be extravagantly kind to people all over the world.

Entire industries are based around being nice. Professional good samaritans are paid top wage to be utterly selfless and make others feel good about themselves. Politicians are voted in on the basis of how well they'll treat the less fortunate: "Free... everything for the poor! Weekly visits from a randy supermodel for the unemployed! Marijuana for the elderly! Or their drug of choice!"

Such a world is unobtainable, since it is by its very nature contradictory - egos are concerned with the self, whereas selflessness is obviously concerned with other people. Everyone would be horribly conflicted. Meekly shuffling down the street, pinning yourself against buildings so as not to get in anyone's way, would be swagger. Awkwardly shifting attention away and asking how great you've done recently would be bragging. Quietly helping an old lady cross the road would be showing off.

I'm not trying to change anything by writing this, I think people pretty much remain themselves throughout life, with all their insecurities, prejudices and pride. I guess the most important thing to remember is: no matter who you are, how you are, or why you are, you should find a way to love yourself because you're pretty great. Believe me. (Not sure why you should).