Are you embarrassed to be who you are?
What we feel and allow to grow forms a major part of our culture. Years from now, we will stop and wonder why 'cringe culture' became a huge part of our lives.
What is Cringe Culture?
Imagine feeling uncomfortable and insecure in your own skin. You either want to fit in or want to stand apart so loudly that you no longer recognize who you are and what resonates with you. Too blinded by the light of others, you fail to see the light that you radiate ceaselessly. Does it make you cringe or does it sound relatable?
Cringe Culture feeds on diverse beliefs. The dominant one is that whatever doesn't go well with the social media trends is cringe. What's scary about this cringe culture is that it's faceless and keeps shifting between trends. One day what is termed a fine is excessive on the other. People, acts, and choices can be deemed cringe. Whatever you do and however you show up can be called cringe too. So, many people hide behind the screen, too afraid to show up as they are because being cringe is not a nice place to be. Or so it is assumed.
As early as 2009, the mention of cringe culture started to limit or mislead individuals. Cringe culture either isolates individuals or makes them a part of huge crowds where they lose their sense of individuality. The boundaries are murdered. Meaningful content is lost. Appreciation is taken over by criticism. There is this sense of being better or less flawed. There also is this complex of being more capable of creating more cringe-worthy content. Either way, it's at the expanse of insulting others.
The most problematic consequence of cringe culture is that filters are put against self-expression. Fear of being called out is killing creativity and emotions. Surprisingly, on the contrary, it's an invasion of sorts. A self-chosen invasion. People are allowing a deep dig into their personalities and lives online. Initially, Reddit, Twitter, and Youtube used to be associated with this term. Now, you'd hardly come across a social media platform devoid of this term. Let's highlight some parts of the cringe culture:
1) Self-exposing cringe: Freedom and cringe are often viewed in the same light. Shocking, right? The freedom to be cringe is taken a bit too seriously. Exposing an intimate part of private life, laughing about it, and then calling it freedom of expression. This is the loop. Declaring yourself as cringe and accepting it as a part of your personality trait is what follows.
2) Pretentious cringe: Whether we accept it or not, cringe is trending. You'll notice that there are tons of good videos online that don't get attention. On the other hand, videos that make no sense get a lot of public attention. That being said, the public attention isn't praise but sheer mockery. Pretentious cringe takes up the space for meaningful content. People get too busy criticizing and calling out that they don't even care about the good stuff that is there.
3) Humorous cringe: We think we are humorous but we are creating humor at a heavy price. This is how humorous cringe can be summed up. There is this acceptance of humor at the cost of anything and everything. People might even comment 'This is so funny and cringe.' The boundaries to joke and laugh are vanishing brutally because of this.
4) Gross cringe: Now, it isn't difficult to find stuff online that will make you puke within seconds. Violence, irrelevant combinations, horrifying acts and so much more comes in this category of cringe. Stuff that shouldn't even be captured is celebrated and shared to ridicule and make fun of. Comments have found unhealthy spaces, clearly.
5) Provocative cringe: Some forms of cringe instigate others to do what they otherwise won't do. Cringe perpetuates extremism and overconfidence that is unnecessary. The weird part is that we may or may not detect provocation or cringes in the first instant but we feel it's excessive beyond standards. And, what next? We are eager to do it and join the crowd.
By now, you'd conclude, it isn't a healthy practice. Making fun of what others love to do or being excessive because you can - these need not be celebrated. Just being yourself and allowing others to be is how we create safe spaces of expression and creativity. It's high time we stopped giving unnecessary attention to terms like 'cringey'.