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It’s not cool to break the rules – By @isabellelj1

It’s not cool to break the rules

We’re taught that it’s cool to break the rules. 

Don’t be a sheep. Be individual. Don’t conform. 

Especially in the creative industries. As creatives, we’re told to break the rules; to do something new, bold and different.

But more and more, I have noticed people bending Covid rules and regulations. Small visits to siblings for a birthday, seeing a partner for a cosy night in, gatherings in the park with huge groups who quite clearly aren’t all flatmates.

“But… we can’t do that.” I said to my friend in response to hearing about  some friends who were continuing to see each other during the lockdown.

“I know, but they’re not rule-abiding people.” She replied.

I couldn’t articulate why at the time, but a wave of feeling rather irked  travelled through me. 

I’m abiding by the rules. Does that make me a goodie two shoes? And if people complain about their neighbours having a party or a gathering, are they tattletales? I think a lot of what our government pedal out is often highly questionable. I don’t consider myself as part of the worthy brigade. But something about what I heard crossed a line.

But it’s cool to break the rules, right? 

Breaking the rules is fun. It’s about freedom. It’s about expressing your desires. You might end up  impressing your mates, you might impress a member of the opposite sex. 

But is spreading corona impressive? 

Is it going to improve your chances of pulling?

I’m not so sure.

Breaking rules is a way to feel validated and accepted in a social group. It can feel special and exhilarating. And arrogance can be cool. Breaking rules gives us an adrenaline rush. Sticking two fingers up to world and saying, I’m going my way, I’m doing my own thing. 

There’s something mysterious about being “cool”. It has an un-definable quality—the aura of mystery. This ambiguity, in the end, might be the largest part of what makes “cool” so powerful. 

But why is breaking the rules considered cool? And does this apply to certain rules, and not others?

The crucial factor about rule breaking is showing autonomy. It’s a refusal to comply with established norms which signals you have confidence and independence, that you’re not concerned with the expectations of others. 

Here’s where the argument falls down. This only works if the norm being defied seems unnecessary, illegitimate, or repressive. Being cool isn’t just about breaking rules. It’s about breaking the right rules in the right context. 

And obviously, cool has to have it’s correct moment. For instance, at traditional events like a job interview with a large corporation or a formal dinner at a fancy restaurant, you wouldn’t wear shoe brands perceived to be cool. 

But the rules sanctioned by the government were never unreasonable. They were to protect us. They were to protect your friends’ parents  who have a weak chest, or your aunt with cancer, or your grandmother at home with depression.

Is it cool to keep them at home even longer because you think it’s cool to spread the virus?

It had to be said. The rules aren’t that hard.

Stay at home. It’s not difficult.

And if you don’t you won’t look cool. You just look thick.

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