As a 19-year-old stuck between the millennial twenty-somethings and the gen z teenagers, I’ve participated in my fair share of hype. It exists in every corner of our society, on every platform of social media there is. The question is, is it all good? In order to truly understand the implications of “hype,” we have to get down to the basics, or in other words, the urban dictionary definition.
Verb: To get extremely excited over something.
Adj: Fun, rowdy, or wild.
Noun: A clever marketing strategy in which a product is advertised as the thing everyone must have, to the point where people feel the need to consume it.
Let’s begin with the verb definition. To get extremely excited about something: not so bad, right? Well, it depends on how you look at it. When you spend three hours getting ready for a big event (even if you spent half admiring yourself in the mirror, or using a hairbrush as a microphone), you want validation.
So, you text your friend “I need you to hype me up.” Next thing you know, you’re late for the event because of the hour you spent on a facetime call, listening to her screech “yasss queen slayyy.” In the end, the event goes swimmingly, because your confidence is at a max. Your insecurities took a hike long enough for you to enjoy yourself.
Hype can also be used as an adjective. It’s when you walk past a house party and a drunken frat boy stumbles out, speaking incoherently. You can’t understand a word he’s saying, except “yooo this party is so hype.”
After a few minutes of this, he seems to realize where he is and moves clumsily back into the house. You shake your head, and regard it as a strange, albeit funny, occurrence. It’s not until later that night, when you’re in bed, that you think about the boy again. You wonder about his well being and hope he’s okay until the exhaustion takes over and you fall asleep.
What you were unaware of is that this boy has a big exam the next morning, but he’s passed out in the bushes somewhere. He didn’t intend to drink tonight, not at all. He just wanted to have some fun, but his friends convinced him that the drinks were so hype, and the music was so hype, that his sense of responsibility flew out the window, along with his exam grade.This is where the solid lines between good and bad start to blur.
In our attempts to make things hype, we lose focus on things that actually matter. You’re going to ace that exam after a good night’s rest. He’s going to feel the most un-hype he’s ever felt the second that hangover hits.
The definition of “hype” as a noun is probably the one we are all most familiar with. No matter how many albums Drake comes out with, there will always be hype for it. No matter how many Marvel movies come out, there will always be hype for them. No matter how many times the yodeling Walmart kid performs, there will always be hype for him. Certain members and concepts in society have been put on a solid gold pedestal, spreading awareness and joy (or in Drake’s case, unnecessary texts to your ex.)
But what about the events that get pushed away and covered up? How many times have you seen 10 different opinionated tweets about the same event cross your timeline before news of the event itself?
When Kylie Jenner had a baby, it “broke the internet.” You couldn’t set foot in any public place without hearing about how emotionally moving the video was. Barely anyone knew or cared what was happening in the world, namely, the next bout of mass persecution of Rohingya Muslims. There was no enraged hype for it like there was for the terrorist attacks in France. It was just another piece of news that only made it onto a few channels. Hype is good at shining a light on some topics, but its also good at hiding others away in the dark.
Whether a verb, an adjective, or noun, “hype” has become a staple in our society. It’s important to acknowledge that hype contributes to the toxic hype culture, in which we only get enraged about the things everybody is getting enraged about, in which we only praise the things that everybody is praising.
It is important to take a step back, and decide things for yourself, as well as educate yourself through means other than a series of angry tweets. And last but not least, it’s important to tell your friend she looks like a whole meal when she just spent the better part of three hours trying to look like one.