We all know how trends work. There's a ramp up, a peak, and then a fall. Similarly, you can be early, on time, or late for these things. That's the game I've been playing with myself recently, trying to figure out what kind of stuff I've been early or late on.
For example, I was relatively early on Ryan Gosling, right with the mainstream for TailSpin, and distressingly late on coconut water. You can be early/on time/late for just about anything -- assuming they came close to ubiquitousness. Being early on something that never blew up doesn't count. We're aiming for mainstream exposure here.
RulesThis last one is important. Take shell toes for example, the Adidas Superstar. They were obviously huge in the 70s and early 80s but then had a resurgence in the late 90s and early 2000s. Well I wasn't around for the first go around but jumped on the bandwagon for Round Two. Right on time I'd say. Using the same criteria, I can't be early or late for Michael Jackson.
- For each item, there has to be an identifiable peak, or period/moment when they were huge.
- You're not late to the party if you weren't alive during the time of their prominence.
Early (Bellwether): Febreze, Ryan Gosling (The Believer), Twilight (2007), downloading music, Mad Men, real-time strategy games (Herzog Zwei), Tamagotchi, Palladia Music Channel, man purses (2000), Azealia Banks, Scarlett Johannson (Ghost World), blogging (2000), ramen, Malcolm Gladwell (pre-Tipping Point), Sidekick aka Danger Hiptop, big ill-fitting glasses (every FOB is ahead on this), TED Talks, argyle socks, Really Simple Syndication, Kirby, PDAs (Handspring), iPods, The Office (British version), fantasy sports (middle school)As you can see, personal trends emerge. My profile is early on things available electronically; right with most of my generation camped out in front of the television; but generally clueless throughout most of the Eighties. Oh well, all fads aren't created equal, missing a few is probably a great thing.
On Time (Lemming): NKOTB, Survivor, Twitter, Emma Stone, Martika, "Kocomo," Jersey Shore, Kat Von D, boba, Frank Gehry, shell toes, Glee, Top Gun, Razor scooters, TGIF on ABC, raving, The Dougie, snowboarding, 4-color pens, Deion Sanders, Beanie Babies, ICQ, wallet chains, parachute pants, eReaders, Game Boy, stickers
Late (Sloth): Woody Allen, JNCOs, Kanye West, MySpace, Johnny Cash resurgence, sushi, Felicity, The Biebs, "Crush On You," boxer briefs, Consumer Electronics Show, John Hughes movies, most hip hop dance crazes, coconut water, portable CD player, Battlestar Galactica, in the know slang words
Missed, some happily, some not on purpose (Dodo): Simpsons, The Wire, Meryl Streep, peg leg jeans, The Running Man, Lost, kombucha, overalls, beets, Adult Swim
That's not to say that being late the party is a bad thing. No judgement calls here. I mean, it's important to know when something has hit the mainstream right? What else will you talk about at dinner parties? A good rule of thumb: If it hits the cover of Time, your local newspaper, the back section of US World & News Report, or heavens, the New York Times for a trend piece, it's about to nosedive and you're late.