By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief
Our generation has certainly grown up in an odd world: There’s no denying that. If you’re at the older end of Gen Z, you remember a time before the explosion of technology and the internet. You remember a life filled with less noise.
Regardless, we did experience our more formative years in the midst of this explosion, and one of the noises that came from it was the proliferation of trend culture. Sure, trends have always been a thing, but because the internet helps trends reach every device through social media, they can completely change an entire market. I want to use the ever-changing world of reusable water bottles and cups to prove my point.
You may be wondering how in the world cups or water bottles matter this much, but there are whole TikTok pages, hashtags and trends dedicated to certain brands. Many of you may remember the absolute chokehold Hydro Flasks had on people back in 2019 or so. The “VSCO girl” trend had taken all social media platforms by storm, and if you made a video impersonating a VSCO girl, you’d better have had a Hydro Flask in hand.
Before Hydro Flasks, it was Yeti cups. Stories went viral of people still finding ice in their Yeti cups after their houses caught on fire or going days without needing to add more ice to a drink. Before Yeti, it was Tervis cups that came in millions of prints and styles.
Hydro Flask has been at the top of the cup/water bottle food chain for quite a while but has recently had to make room for others. Within the last year, a company called Stanley — previously known for camping gear — came out with the most unique cup yet: the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler. TikTok bloggers ate it up like it was their first meal in months. People who flocked to buy the objectively ugly cup found that they’d been beaten to the punch. Even today, you might go to purchase one of these cups and find it sold out.
But why do people care so much about a stupid cup? For starters, using reusable and sustainably made products is always a win. All the cool kids are doing it. Secondly, it’s all to maintain the lie that social media likes to perpetuate: that you’ll be just like this person if you buy x, y and z.
Do I own a Hydro Flask? Of course, I do. I like to carry around 32 ounces of ice-cold water throughout my day: Sue me. I didn’t buy it for the name but for the convenience that the item offered (and because it came in a cute color).
I could never justify purchasing a Stanley because, at around $60 for the required 40-ounce cup, it is absurdly expensive, because it’s so ugly it seems like it was made that way on purpose, and because it has several proven design flaws such as the cup’s tendency to leak. Yet, there are people out there who would defend their Stanley cups with their dying breaths.
I blame it all on the internet and trend culture. We are so worried about fitting in, we’ll buy something even if it is ugly or a worse product than what we already have. Then, we’ll push that product so hard we trick another unlucky fool into falling for the same trap.
So do yourself a favor: Remove that Stanley cup from your cart, and just go pick out a cute one from Target. No one is going to judge you for it.
Photo: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief