The vibes they are a-changing. At least that’s according to US trend forecaster, Sean Monahan, the same man who spotted (and named) the “normcore” trend of the late 2010s.
A ‘vibe shift’ – as he sees it – is when our collective culture imperceptibly moves on, dividing us into those who move on with it and those who get left behind.
What this fresh new vibe is going to be, Monahan has yet to identify, but apparently it’s coming for us. Ever since his theory was unearthed on his Substack newsletter (natch), the internet has been working itself up into a right old lather, in case we didn’t have any other things to clean up right now.
A few early casualties of the shift (apparently) include your favourite jeans, side partings, earnestness (!?) and brunch. Not to mention your self-esteem. As those cultural commentators at the Cut wrote in this much shared article: “It’s chilling to realise you may be one of the stuck, or if you aren’t, you may be soon.”
I’d argue that one person’s “chilling” is another person’s pleasantly warm bath. The kind of bath I’m planning to run straight after work as I light a candle or three, drink a can of bath beer (the joy of bath beer!) and check in with my WhatsApp threads, because, no, I never made the move to Telegram or whatever messaging platform is coming next down the line for my sanity.
In fairness to Monahan, he did tell the Cut that it’s okay not to survive the shift. “We all have permission to stay stuck at whatever makes us feel comfortable, and if that’s in 2016 or 2012 or 2010, that’s fine,” he allows us.
Still, there’s an undeniable pressure to keep up and I am having none of it. Here are some reasons why I don’t feel the need to shift my vibes anytime soon.
Everyone is bloody knackered. Just keeping on keeping on is taking all our energy for now, so having to think about new clothes, new food and a whole new approach to life really isn’t top of our agenda. After two years of Covid, we want to have some fun, sure, but what’s wrong with the fun we’ve always had?
You’ll have noticed we’re teetering on the precipice of international conflict in eastern Europe. And while Vladimir Putin’s military strategy could be (in terrible terms, please forgive me) described as a “vibe shift”, we’re pretty sure Ukraine and most of the rest of the world – save China – don’t see it that way. Which is all to say there are more important things to worry about.
We’re broke not broken
As the cost of living crisis bites hard, let’s not lean on hackneyed “make do and mend” cliches. The disenfranchised in society deserve more than that, plus it’s all a bit Brexit (arguably another ‘vibe shift’ we didn’t need). But let’s not make people feel like their homes, lives and wardrobe are wanting either. Now is not the time to tell us we need a makeover. Trend prediction is just sexy marketing.
Basic things are still nice
Eating an egg-based meal in the hours between 10am and midday on a Sunday is still a lovely thing to do, avocado or no avocado. Fairy lights make shitty things look better (though you don’t need to take them on a plane). Likewise lighting candles. It’s a truism that it’s nice to be nice. It’s also nice to enjoy nice things and even post them on Instagram from time to time, without or without the ‘Basic’ sticker.
We’re allergic to change
There’s good change and bad change, and turns out humans tend to find one kind easier than the other. We also only have so much capacity for it at any one time. Dismantling racism and sexism and ageism and ableism and homophobia and transphobia and all the other isms and phobias you can think of requires considerable resources. So let’s be conserving them, right?
Who wants ill-fitting clothes?
Specifically jeans. We’ve only just got used to wearing them again after two years in leggings or PJs. Don’t try to tell us we now have to buy a new pair. A newsroom poll finds my colleagues are still happy with their skinnies or flattering boyfriend fit. We did baggy jeans back in the 90s and noughties. No need.
Plus, is there anything worse than shopping for new jeans? OK, plenty of things, including war in Ukraine. But I thought we were agreed we’re buying less, not more these days. Wasn’t the pandemic meant to break the fashion cycle?
The importance of (sometimes) being earnest
I’m getting a bit serious with these points, I realise. But if you’ve read No One Is Talking About This, Patricia Lockwood’s award-nominated cautionary tale of a novel, you’ll know the perils of brain worms (aka spending too much time on the internet). It’s exhausting (see point one) always having to own the latest take or ‘vibe’ or, cough cough, hot take about a vibe. Expressing sincere care for things that really matter to you without posting a spot-on meme can be a relief.
The importance of not giving a fuck
Call me cheugy, but another welcome symptom of getting older is caring less (what other people think of you). Like change, this can materialise in good and bad ways. Let’s not be the old man shouting at the young folk on the bus. Equally, let’s embrace the privilege of ageing – and it is a privilege – to give a little less of a proverbial about young, white, male trend predictors.
One colleague puts it this way: “We’re not unfashionable older women, we’re just women who are old and wise enough not to care.” Or as another chips in: “It’s quite nice just letting the vibe shift wash past you and carrying on with the same old shit.”