As these are our rulers, we should get to know them. Disclaimers, if you must: I’m retired, so I’m not entirely up on the new trends. But do you really need to ask if things have gotten better or worse since then?
You don’t need to bother with the link. It’s from a site called “The Odyssey Online,” which apparently is a place where Millennial girls can write about the only thing that matters: their very own special selves. How it has not collapsed into a supermassive singularity of solipsism is a problem I leave for the theoretical physicists among the Fourteen Readers. The list includes stuff like “avocados” and “ripped jeans” and “Post Malone” (apparently a singer). Fair warning: If you click, expect to lose a few brain cells.
The first thing to note is that such a list exists at all. I (and, I strongly suspect, the people who coined the phrase) intend the word “basic” as an insult — a synonym for “standard-issue,” i.e. “conformist,” i.e. “boring.” Basic college girls use it with pride. Though they are all special and unique snowflakes, they are also out-and-proud trend-surfing herd animals. Unraveling that contradiction is above my pay grade, but I have a guess that I think gets us in the ballpark:
Those of us on the back nine of our lives remember high school as a process of differential diagnosis. You try on a certain set of social roles to see which, if any, fit. You don’t go out for the baseball team because it’s the first step to making the Majors. Really, you might not even like playing baseball all that much. You go out for the baseball team because you want to be a Jock. If you make the team, you’re a Jock for a while, leading the Jock life and learning its lessons. If you don’t make the team, you go find something else — the Debate Club, heavy metal music, whatever — and learn the lessons those lifestyles teach.
You didn’t understand this back then, of course, but your parents did, and — crucially — your teachers did. If you wanted to be a Metalhead this semester, they’d treat you like a Metalhead, complete with the “Why are you wasting your potential (and ruining your ears) with that godawful noise?” They’d make a show of having a Very Serious Conversation with you about the dangers of drugs and satanism…. knowing full well that you weren’t on drugs, weren’t sacrificing virgins to Moloch (if for no other reason than you didn’t actually know any girls), and would, in fact, come back as a clean-scrubbed Preppie after summer break your junior year.
The key word in “adolescent rebellion,” after all, is adolescent. All of that stuff was just practice. If it proceeded in the normal way, what going through all the permutations of high school identity taught you was:
- you’re a fairly normal person; and
- that’s ok.
In other words, you are not a collection of externals — clothes, music, hairstyles. You’re you. The externals can change, fairly radically — remember that one summer you broke your nose trying to be a skater? — but there’s a core in there that’s you. Which is great, because it means that you are just person who takes customer service calls in a cubicle farm to pay the bills; they’re not going to put “Here lies Bill, a Customer Service Representative” on your tombstone.
Self-esteem culture changes all that. What’s the point of being a Metalhead these days? At best, you’ll get a gold sticker and a participation trophy like everyone else. At worst, you’ll get diagnosed with some bullshit “learning disorder” and they’ll zombie you out on powerful prescription psychotropics. The only lesson this teaches is: Come to the attention of the authorities at your peril.
That’s the effect on guys, at any rate. Bad as that is, it’s far worse on girls. Guys establish social hierarchy through conflict; when they can’t compete with each other, they drop out and embrace the Ritalin Zombie lifestyle of video games and onanism. Girls compete through approval-seeking, which, since nowadays nobody’s different from anybody and everyone’s the best at everything, is easily channeled into conspicuous consumption. Hence all the items on that list.
For the Basic College Girl, then, conformism is a virtue. In fact, it’s the highest virtue — the “winner” is the one who does nothing, says nothing, thinks nothing but that which gets upvoted on social media….
….or downvoted on social media, as the case may be. Self-esteem culture has completely bypassed the normal feedback loops. Back in the days of meatspace-only communication, strong signals of disapproval from your peers were, 99 times out of 100, clear indicators that you’re doing it wrong. If the kids are making fun of your personal hygiene, then unless your name really is “Dick Smelley,” you need to take a long hard look at your showering habits. Kids can be horribly cruel, but most of the time they’re not wrong. And yes, bullying can (and often did) go overboard, but generally “stop being such a dork!” is great life advice, and the process of figuring out just what you’re doing that’s so dorky, and how to stop it, is crucial for one’s social development.
Social media changes all that. Anyone who has ever written a blog post — really, anyone who has ever made a substantive comment on a blog post — has had the experience of some drive-by troll shitting on you. As functional adults who grew up in meatspace we recognize this for what it is, and ignore it. But imagine that you hadn’t grown up in meatspace. What if you mistake this for substantive criticism? As it’s not psychologically sustainable to take it that way for long, you do what the Basic College Girl does: You call the commenter a “h8r” and, crucially, you consider having “h8rs” as confirmation that whatever you’re doing is right. After all, they couldn’t “h8” if they weren’t thinking about you.
Thus “approval-seeking,” a.k.a. chick competition, curdles into an attitude where you actively seek out “h8rs” to annoy.
This is where Normals grossly underestimate women like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m personally terrified of AOC, because she is the embodiment of the Basic College Girl. Basic College Girls can’t be bargained with, they can’t be reasoned with, and the reason for both is: Both “bargaining” and “reasoning” imply that you think she’s doing something wrong, which is “h8.” And since “ur h8in,” that means you’re thinking about her more than she’s thinking about you, which means she’s validated, which means she wins. Which means she’s not only going to keep on doing what she’s doing, but will crank it up past 11, in order get more h8, to attract more h8rz.
This is our future. Since the only way to deal with a Basic College Girl is to say “no” — all the time, to everything, unconditionally — and we as a society have lost the ability to do that, we’re screwed. Get to know your new mistress. Xzhyr name is Becky, and she’s everywhere.