"Cool guys tease each other a lot. Some people like to think of guy's guys as kind of dopey, but many of them are very funny and quick witted. Their sense of humor can sometimes be a bit harsh and cutting. They sometimes use it to put people in their place."

"Hanging around them you get the feeling that they're always competing for status under the surface. Who can be the funniest? Who's the best at some trivial skill? Who can one-up the other person's story? Similarly, they can be very touchy about their status being lowered. They'll react badly if they feel another guy has disrespected them somehow and will do what they can to save face. The jerks among them will sometimes put another guy down to assert his higher rank."

"Guys bust each other's balls a lot. Mostly it's just to be entertaining, but it can also be a way to keep someone else's behavior in line. For example, if someone's being full of themselves their friends will tease them to bring them back down to earth, as opposed to having a serious confrontation about it. Their humor can be quite cutting at times, though they don't mean any real ill will by it. If you're overly sensitive or you take it too personally you won't be able to hang. You've got to be able to laugh it off and then counter with a funny line of your own."

"Great accomplishment seems imperfect,
Yet it does not outlive its usefulness.
Great fullness seems empty,
Yet cannot be exhausted.
Great straightness seems twisted.
Great intelligence seems stupid.
Great eloquence seems awkward."
(Forty-five, Tao Te Ching)


"Coolness is like a game you appear to have won (having skipped many messy stages of development), but will ultimately lose."

"Essential to our view of coolness is the experience of love-hate, because at the same time we admire the cool kids, we recognize their paradoxes-pretty and snobby, irreverent and rude-but the coolest kids are never too snobby or too rude. They seem to know just how heavy their foot should rest on the gas."

"Being cool, then, means breaking the rules, but only so much. According to one researcher, "The way people and things are cool is if they seem autonomous-they do what they want to do regardless of what other people think. But in a way that is appropriate, seen as valued or efficient; it's different, without being harmful or worse."

"Self-actualizers are people (though rarely teenagers) who think for themselves. They don't conform to fit in. They've evolved beyond basic needs to higher-order needs. Instead of valuing things like belonging, they've come to value higher principles like self-sufficiency, beauty, and justice."

"Cool adolescents are cool, in part, because they seem older. They reference a state of being that's years ahead of their peers. But this maturity is superficial. Instead of actually being years more evolved than their peers, the "cool kids" might actually be behind them in certain crucial ways."

"Coolness seems to have a shallow quality to it. It's a performance experienced at some distance from any coherent internal reality. Self-actualization, on the other hand, is a place that you get to through struggling with belonging, self-esteem, and intimacy in a genuine way."

"It might be gratifying (for some of us) to know that some of the kids you admired most in high school didn't turn out as well as you did, and to realize that the years you struggled with belonging and self-esteem were developmentally essential."

What's Wrong With Being Cool?, Jessica Grogan, Ph.D.