The headline confused me -I had no idea what it meant. It's about backpacks and how to wear them. Those who write and comment on the internet fall heavily between the ages of 18 and 40, and they all carried backpacks to school. For some, wearing only one backpack strap was the cool thing to do, and for others it was two straps. And they all have an opinion. The "investigation" at Slate has almost 300 comments, and the link at Metafilter has over a hundred. The question was sparked by the movie 21 Jump Street, in which the cool cop advised one-strapping to blend in as undercover agents at a high school, but found that the style had changed to two-strapping when they arrived at school.
When I first watched this scene, I thought: Funny bit, but is it right? I, like everyone cool (or trying to be cool) in my high school, one-strapped all the way. It was a foundational tenet of cool—you might argue about what kind of music was cool, or what clothes, or what hairstyles, but it was a given that one-strapping was the only way to wear a backpack. Is one-strapping really not cool anymore? And if so, how could something once so cool become so not? My search for the answer sent me on a quest in which I’d consult pediatric orthopedic surgeons, re-examine decades of pop culture, and track down the one consummately cool high-schooler from East Amherst, N.Y., who might have the answer.
What follows is an overly in-depth look at a trend, complete with pie charts, a survey of movies, and theories on why backpack-wearing styles change. This is a Very Important Thing.
The article and discussion is an instance of witnessing Generation X and Y coming to the realization that they are not in school anymore, and might never be the trendiest, coolest kids ever again. This is sort of funny to someone who never wore a backpack to school at all (no one at my school did -they were for hikers and campers) and whose kids gave up backpacks in sixth grade.
So, did wear your backpack with two straps or just one in high school? Tell us what year you graduated, too, if you don't mind. I'll start: Class of '76. No backpack, even in college.