Welcome to the year 2017, when being phased out of Hollywood’s A-list doesn’t mean quite what it used to. But I’m here to tell you that’s a good thing, at least for you, once-fading star: Social media’s democratization of fame and attention means you’re just a few tweets away from achieving a level of cachet that would’ve seemed impossible less than a decade ago. Long gone are the days when you needed to star in xXx to be considered a Cool Celeb*.
But I don’t even know where to start! Don’t sweat it, you future Martha Stewart, you — thanks to pioneers like Cher and newly inducted Cool Celeb Val Kilmer, there’s a tried-and-true blueprint for reincarnating yourself as a “dad” or “mom.” (First lesson: That’s what the kids on the internet call their idols.) All it takes is a stick-with-it attitude and an ability to let go of shame and all hints of self-seriousness. Let’s start with the first step, which is an easy one.
*Disclaimer: Being considered “cool” on the internet is not the same as being cool in real life, nor does it technically even mean that you are well-liked. The adoration you will gain as a Cool Celeb will mostly be ironic. You may often ask, “Are they laughing with me or at me?” The answer may often be the latter. To fight back against this potentially painful realization, be sure you have push notifications enabled for Twitter; the constant ding or vibration of a retweet is a perfect antidote.
1. Age out of your target demographic.
To be clear, your new audience is 13–28 years old. That’s the Cool Zone, and you need to be considerably older than it. Maybe it’s a competition thing, and teens are less inclined to praise their peers on social media, or maybe young people have always found amusement in the behavior of older people and this is just the first generation to exercise it in a public forum. Whatever the reason, the fact is, the further in age you are from this demo, the more readily it will accept you.
2. Display an utter lack of understanding of technology.
Now, do not confuse displaying a lack of understanding of technology with actually being technologically illiterate. Cher is the best at this, deliberately styling her tweets as if she doesn’t know what the caps-lock key does. The internet finds these idiosyncrasies endlessly endearing, so treat your Twitter as if it’s the Google search bar or the input box of a text message, and your followers will increase in no time. Just remember, “accidentally tweeted out his/her phone number” is just another way of saying “was in the news cycle for 24 hours.”
3. Embrace hip-hop.
Youths online just want something they can quote-tweet with “lmao wtffff,” and there is nothing more confoundingly amusing to them than someone out of their age range — which you are, if you’ve followed Step 1 — participating in the parts of culture they adore. The key here is to dive deep with your references — superficial allusions to Biggie or Tupac will be seen for what they are: lazy. Instead, get into a daily habit of tweeting out select Lil Yachty lines, take a photograph of yourself in a Young Thug T-shirt, or make an “If Young Metro don’t trust you …” joke. (Yes, that was a meme from 2016, but lateness will only work in your favor.) If all else fails, really wild out and claim you invented hip-hop.
4. Know yourself and your voice.
The tweet above is exemplary not only due to its simplicity and content, but also because you can close your eyes and hear Danny DeVito saying it. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but if you gain an understanding of the outside world’s perception of yourself, then it’s just a matter of synthesizing those expectations into your 140-characters-or-less declarations. That takes years of groundwork and an acute grasp of the English language, though. Thankfully, there is also a shortcut: Simply draw on the hallmarks of your past to comment on a #relevant topic.
Moderation is crucial once you’ve become a Cool Celeb; this cannot be overstated. As we’ve touched on, being odd and inexplicable is a good thing — but to only a certain extent. The returns on your tweets about Cate Blanchett and her husband begin to diminish the second there is more than one. Elsewhere, it is certainly OK to be aware of your status as an ironic icon, but that self-awareness cannot go public. There is a stark difference between Cher’s calculated nonsense and Gary Busey amplifying his Gary Busey–ness in service of Amazon Fire TV Sticks. The internet will revoke your Cool card with the quickness the second it realizes you don’t belong solely to it. And then you’ll have to “destroy” Donald Trump to get back in its good graces.