Back to Basic

William Lou
October 30, 2014
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

Normally I would refrain from doing this, but the prevalence of “basic” in our day-to-day language is approaching other hall-of-famers like YOLO and #-insert random word-. Yet somehow the definition of “basic” is still very vague. According to urban dictionary, “basic bitch” is defined as “a bum-a$$ woman who think she the shit but really ain’t."

Setting aside the inappropriate use of the b-word (a serious discussion for another day), it sure sounds like being basic is not a good thing. Grabbing a quick extra-whip low-fat pumpkin spice latte? You basic. Making yourself a kale smoothie after Zumba class? You basic. But the truth is, everyone’s a little basic. The more important truth is that it’s no big deal if you are.

I’m pretty basic. On the tenth anniversary of the release of Mean Girls, I hosted a viewing party at my house, complete with sushi and copious glasses of Girls’ Night Out. It was also a ridiculously good time, so why not just shake off the haters? Because we all know the haters gonna hate hate hate.

Being basic is considered a bad thing in that it implies you lack agency. You will follow trends as they come, with not one original thought ever crossing your mind. That’s simply not true though. Remember that time you came up with the idea to deep-fry Oreos in a Nutella batter? How about that time you wrote a paper about Descartes’ ethics as a hopeful interpretation of human nature? That ain’t basic. Just because you follow trends doesn’t mean you are an unoriginal person as a whole. Not many people are invested enough in everything to go their own way all the time.

One of the reasons I don’t mind being basic is because I appreciate a basic’s honesty. Basics are unafraid of accepting the notion that they are not wholly creative in their outer appearance. Basics are predictable. By acknowledging the inherent stupidity of things like celebrity gossip and Pawn Stars, basics make it feel okay to occasionally indulge yourself in these pointless fun pastimes.

And if you really think about it, calling someone basic as an insult doesn’t really criticize them for their lack of originality. The term is thrown around so much and is so widely applicable that it’s hard to take seriously. Instead, calling someone out for being basic is just pointing out a common consumption pattern, and somehow asserting that it’s worse than subscribing to a less popular one (I’m looking at you, music snobs). It’s a really restrained way of proving your superiority over others, one that is buried in sarcasm and laced with just the right amount of sass. It also makes you a dick, but hey – what do I know? I’m just a basic guy who loveeeeees brunch.


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