If you’ve spent much time here on the good ol’ World Wide Web, you’ve probably read about some trends. Cowboy-boot sandals are sweeping the nation! Pixel hair is the new unstoppable fad! You’ll never believe what people are doing with doughnuts!!!
Haven’t encountered any of these in the wild? This is because many of the fads you’ve read about are dubious at best, and outright nonsense at worst. Since few sentences pack quite the punch of Can you believe what these idiots are doing?, outlandish trend stories are as easy to publish as they are to hate-share. There’s a classic adage of (shoddy) journalism that three examples equals a trend. In reality, stories are sometimes borne out of even less than that.
As devoted hate-sharers of many of these stories, and in an effort to keep you abreast of the latest trends (or “trends”), we here at The Ringer have decided to take on the not-so-noble task of not only rounding up the month’s biggest fads, but also rating them. Did the teens do anything crazy in November? Are sociopaths in Brooklyn still trying to turn things into croissants? Was everything we read this month total bullshit? Basically, in a fight to the death, which of this month’s trends would win?
Before we get into it, some ground rules:
- The trends should have received coverage in major publications, plural, in November, where “major” means that both your mother and your college roommate have probably heard of the outlets.
- The trends don’t necessarily need to be new, but they should have been presented as such in that month. Time is a flat circle.
- Trends will be judged in three 10-point categories: (1) Is this trend actually a trend? (Ice Bucket Challenge: yes; ear makeup: … no), (2) Does this trend have staying power? (cronut: yes; dance walking: no), and (3) How bad is this trend? (cat cafes: pretty good; condom balloons with a not-insignificant risk of drowning: very, very, extremely bad). The total score will determine this month’s winner.
That’s it! Let’s begin.
What is it? Hold on to your hat, but it’s yoga … with cats! You do yoga, and there are cats in the room who have the power and sometimes inclination to stroll over and inspect the humans rolling around in front of them. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was literally featured in a viral video a couple of years ago. Welcome to November 2016: what if viral videos, but real.
Is it real? I am sorry to report that this does, in fact, appear to be a trend. In the last month, there has been coverage of cat yoga classes in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Washington, and California. The practice itself isn’t new: A cat cafe on Manhattan’s Lower East Side offers regular yoga sessions with cats; a second one a mere eight blocks away offers cat meditation. Visits to cat yoga classes have become de rigueur for the internet content factory. Virtually all of the offerings are associated with a local animal shelter; the yoga cats are up for adoption.
Staying power: 3/10
Total score: 14/30
Finding homes for shelter cats is an admirable goal, and cat cafes appear to be here to stay, at least in cities where the disposable income to “my roommate will literally stab me if I get a cat” ratio is just right. But there’s no getting around that this is a pretty weird thing for people to do — though not quite as weird as goat yoga, which is definitely not a real trend.
What is it? A form of exercise, apparently.
Where was it covered? The Independent (“Yes, crawling is the new fitness trend for 2017”) and CNN (“Crawling has some fitness experts going gaga”). In October it popped up in The Washington Post (“‘Crawling is the new plank’: Improve strength and mobility by moving like a baby”), Cosmopolitan (“The latest fitness trend involves acting like an infant”), and Uproxx (“Crawling Is The New Fitness Trend That Has Somehow Become A Hot Thing”).
Is it real? This appears to be the work of a single fitness company based in North Carolina, whose founders have a prodigious talent for self-promotion.
Staying power: 2/10
Total score: 10/30
Nobody, not even that kid you went to high school with who is now really, really, really into CrossFit, is crawling for exercise.
What is it? A recurring food trend is: that food you know, except rainbow. Unicorn toast is toast … but colorful! The shmear is not white. It is not beige. It is pink! Or blue! Or pink and blue!
Where was it covered? Cosmopolitan (“You’ll never want regular toast ever again”), Cosmopolitan again (“Unicorn toast now exists and breakfast just got REAL”), Elle UK (“The Healthy Unicorn Toast Transforming Breakfast Time Forever”), Teen Vogue (“If you’ve never tried unicorn toast you’re missing out”), MTV UK (“Unicorn toast is now a thing”), the New York Post (“This colorful ‘unicorn toast’ is a rainbow for your palate”), and AOL (“‘Unicorn Toast’ Trend Goes Viral”) all covered it.
Is it real? No. A single food photographer is doing this, and even she seems perplexed by the attention. “First @cosmopolitan now @teenvogue … what is happening!!” she wrote on Instagram in November.
Staying power: 0/10
Total score: 4/30
Yes: Magenta cream cheese is prettier than normal cream cheese. But unless we’re just going to call colorful things served on top of toasted bread “unicorn toast” now, this is not a thing.
What is it? People who would not ordinarily be standing still stand extremely still as a cameraman walks among them. Whoa!!! It inspired renditions by everyone from Jerry Jones to 4,000 rabbis in New York.
Where was it covered? Will you settle for “everywhere”? It was featured in The New York Times (“Mannequin Challenge Is the New Viral Video Sensation You Probably Can’t Avoid”) on down. There is a Wikipedia page.
Is it real? Yes, sadly for everyone who will be exterminated by the disappointed Martians headed our way right now. The Olds have never been mobilized so quickly.
Staying power: 2/10
Total score: 16/30
RIP, Mannequin Challenge, we hardly knew ye.
Andy’s Coming Challenge
What is it? Exhausted by the rigors of daily life but bored by the specific requirement (uprightness) of the Mannequin Challenge, people briefly did a different thing (“challenge” implies that someone asked them to do this, which they did not) where someone would shout “Andy’s coming!” and all present parties would immediately collapse to the ground. This happened in Toy Story, apparently.
Is it real? At least several groups of teens did this.
Staying power: 1/10
Total score: 9/30
Meme-y, performative “challenges” based on decades-old films do not tend to last very long in this world.
What is it? Shiny lips, in shades that do not occur in nature.
Where was it covered? The Today Show (“We can’t stop staring at these holographic lips”), BuzzFeed (“You Need To See This New Amazing Hologram Lip Trend”), Glamour (“Instagram Is Freaking Out Over This Holographic Lip Gloss”), and Cosmopolitan (“You Have to See These Insanely Cool Holographic Lip Glosses”).
Is it real? All of the photos in posts about the “trend” are of products sold by a single retailer.
Staying power: 0/10
Total score: 4/30
This is a product, not a trend.
Congrats to our November winner, the Mannequin Challenge, which will surely help you defeat your future children in some distant game of Trivial Pursuit.