Cracking the “Cool” Code

There is a game we all play. This game defies all boundaries of ethnicity, size, shape and socioeconomic status. Some of us are excellent at executing all the right moves, while others of us should consider practicing more intensely before the next “big game”. No, I’m not talking about Beirut — I’m talking about the fame game.

According to the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow, each of us is on a mission to achieve self-actualization. To get there, he outlined a “hierarchy of needs” pyramid, which is comprised of physiological, safety, social and esteem needs, in ascending order. Even if we aren’t locked in an intense journey to discover “who we are”, the success we will reap in the remainder of our college years will be determined largely by the strength of our social relationships.

Envisioning yourself playing “The Game” is the easy part, but deciding which course of action to take is where many of us flub up. So, to combat this bothersome problem, I have included a few handy tips:

1. Suck up to the already-famous to boost your own fame. This is a method that is constantly used in Hollywood, as witnessed in the Britney/K-Fed marriage, as well as every gold-digging hunk or babe that wants to get access to a loaded bank account and a slew of worthy associations. Getting on the good side of those in the “in” group can only help you. When others see you hanging with the cool kids, they will flock to you, wanting to get a piece of the limelight, which you have earned by association. Through this process, you gradually build up a reputation of coolness, and can eventually branch off to start your own “cool kids” clique. The danger of using this method is that you may eventually find yourself the object of too much affection, and the hundreds of date offerings, Facebook pokes, and AIM solicitations may bog you – and your schoolwork – down.

2. Make friends with upperclassmen. For most of us, this may be a painful process because upperclassmen have every reason to reject you. They are already seasoned in the social organization of our school and want to make sure that they do not get hurt in the parasitic relationship you wish to engage. Upperclassmen have so much to give: professor advice, free tutoring, potential hookups and, of course, fame; yet they stand to gain almost nothing, except an eager new friend who would do anything to retain the friendship. Regardless, whether it is through clubs, athletic teams or classes, make an upperclassman friend today.

3. Forget about Myspace — that was SO two years ago — Facebook is where its at. Remember back when we were kids and becoming popular was as easy as having the newest gadgets, first? College relationships may not be as different as you would expect. For those of you who, a) Have been sleeping for the past couple years; b) Never saw a computer in your life; or c) Were raised in an alternate universe, Facebook is the “in” thing to be hooked on. Whether you’re looking for “friendship”, relationships, or “random play”, it is a great way to put yourself out there. Friend-ing people you don’t know, or never see, is shady and definitely makes you look like a stalker so be sure to talk to your Facebook friends in person at least once – that way, your friendship looks legitimate.

4. Attend every party and major social event that Colgate and its affiliates offer. If you are into good, clean fun, the school itself has done a good job of making sure its students never get bored of extremely-small-town living by lining up famous speakers, festivals and free T-shirts. Alcohol-deficient fun is great, but to kill three birds with one stone, make Colgate nightlife a priority in your busy study schedule. Depending on what exclusive parties you can gain entrance to, you will build friendships and boost your street credibility by partaking in – and winning – whatever games the host has planned. At the very least, talk to as many people as possible. After all, you are there because you have a passion for that event in common. Use small talk to lead up to a great future!

5. Dress to impress. It is a proven fact that good-looking people make more friends than, shall I say, those who are genetically deficient. If you happen to be in the latter category, as I am, one way to combat this problem is to focus on the most superficial layers you can show the world: your clothes. I’m not saying you have to be a walking billboard for Ralph Lauren or Abercrombie and Fitch – all you have to do is look presentable and well put together every time you step out of your dorm room. I speak from experience when I say that it is not advantageous to be caught in an outfit a “blind Sunday school teacher” picked out. Rather, it is worth taking the extra two minutes to look in the mirror and notice that your lime green polo does not match your maroon sweatpants. Guys, it is just as – if not more – vital for you to understand this, as hot girls usually do not want to be seen with someone from Mugatu’s Derelicte campaign.

6. Watch television and/or stay up-to-date with the latest pop culture happenings. This point is important because it can help revive conversations between people who have next to nothing in common. Spark a heated debate over Iraq, discuss the validity of Maui Fever or place bets on who will be the next American Idol. By the time all angles are exhausted, you will have made yourself a new “in” friend. Just as it was essential to “own-popular-stuff-if-you-want-to-be-popular” in the importance of Facebook, knowing what the crazy new MTV hits are, will aid you in your quest for the “King of the Colgate Hill” award. Watch whatever interests you – as long as it interests the general population of cool people, as well. You will learn to “Lean like a Cholo”, pose like a “Top Model” and “Party like a Rockstar” in no time!

7. This is the last piece of wisdom I can offer you, and I am sure you have heard it many times before: Be yourself! No one likes a fake and almost every living being on this planet can spot a fake, so no good can come out of acting like someone you aren’t. If you are naturally quiet, don’t go out of your way to be an extrovert. If you are really, really into Country music then don’t go out of your way to hide your Kenny Chesney collection from your Pop-preferring roommate. Popularity and fame are relative, just as long as you are comfortable with who you are.

Making friends at our famously-friendly campus should be no problem, but if you truly want to be an object of desire, then take what I’ve said to heart and think before you put the big frat party down the street, aside for a night of cramming in the library.