I do not think our generation has one particular hot spot. We do not have one particular city which is unarguably cooler than another. Maybe it is more of a cool continent for us. But then again, even that can vary. For example, when someone declares that they want to backpack across Europe, the response from peers is typically a varying form of “Wow! That’s cool!” (Words like awesome, sweet, or bad can be substituted for the word cool). Europe, in general, is cool. There are the obvious cities that many will name as their personal favorites: London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and Dublin are all major tourist attractions. If one mentions that they have been to any of these particular places, then you are automatically granted some degree of worldliness and prestige. However, if you, in fact, have surpassed these tourist attractions and have increased your knowledge of Europe by taking back roads and visiting lesser known cities, then you are truly a person of wonder.
Is Europe the only cool continent? No, I don’t think so. What if someone believes that to indulge so much as to spend months of one’s life strictly for self benefit is inherently selfish and inconsiderate? What if, instead, someone decided to join the Peace Corps and head to a third world country in Africa or South America? I believe that would elicit a very similar response as backpacking did. The Peace Corps is cool. Such a self-sacrificing, passionate attitude is to be greatly admired in my generation. Go save the world because that is cool!
How are both of these outlooks cool? The first is self satisfying, rampant with personal gain, and fun. The second is completely self sacrificing, unselfish, and perhaps miserable at times. What is the connection? Why does this particular generation find both of these things cool? Perhaps it is that the people in both of these categories all belong to a bigger group—a a higher classification, a more elitist society. Most people in our generation are in college (including me). This is cool, but not anywhere near as cool as the two situations mentioned above. College is too normal, too overdone. Everyone goes to college, so how is that cool? However, if you bypass or delay a structured higher education for a more non-traditional type such as a backpacking experience or a learn/work situation like the Peace Corps, then that is cool. Perhaps it’s the edge factor. These people are stepping out of the box, shocking much of the older generations, and by doing so, are gaining this generation’s admiration.
This is cool. In both of these examples, one is able to surprise and shock older generations, and receive nominations of coolness from one’s peers. So maybe it is not a place or a time that makes you cool, but an attitude and mindset of determination and originality.