All Aboard: Why we shouldn’t be shamed for jumping on the bandwagon

Why it's OK to follow lighthearted trends sometimes

Emily Xia

The day has come. The release of the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. Maybe we found out about it because we were scrolling through Instagram. Maybe a friend mentioned it in passing, or maybe we happened to see an advertisement for it while watching TV. Someway, somehow, this knowledge made its way into our heads, and we just have to find out for ourselves if the rumors are true — is the Popeye’s sandwich the best thing ever?

 It’s not rare for trends to be blown out of proportion, for lines to be stretching out the door of restaurants, for traffic to slow down because of a newly-released item. Somi somi. 85 °C bakery. TP Tea. And of course, the current rush of the Popeye’s chicken sandwich, which has sold out in stores nationwide.

And more often than not, once we got that sandwich, once we got that bowl of soft serve or that cup of boba, we tried a bite and well, it just wasn’t what we thought it would be. It was bland, it was too expensive or it just didn’t have that magic that we expected. Because it obviously must be magical if so many people were spending their time just to get that one item, right?

Afterwards, we sulk back to our regular lives, upset at the few dollars we lost or the time we spent, and to everyone who asks about it, we try to spare them from saving the trouble.

“It’s not worth it. It’s not even that good.”

We have good intentions when we prevent others from making the same “mistake” that we made, but in reality, we’re depriving others of an aspect of trends that we fail to see for ourselves.

It’s rare that an item is actually worth the so-called hype that surrounds it. But when we’re in the midst of trying a new item, we gain so much more than simply the product. Let’s be honest: it would be way easier to go a few weeks later when the enthusiasm dies down. Yet the fact that we can overlook logic without grave consequences makes the process fun. It’s fun to make connections, to be united under a common goal, even if it seems ridiculous. It’s fun to post about it on our social media, even if that gives us the label of being “basic.” That’s what makes the experience so magical, so suspenseful. 

We focus so much on the product that we don’t realize it’s the chase we’re really after. 

Trends bring out the spontaneity in people, the drive to suddenly drop everything without even knowing what’s happening, reorganize every priority, just for a seemingly meaningless or random item. In our monotonous, meticulously-scheduled lives, perhaps we all need more moments where we can totally deviate from common sense. 

Even if that means falling prey to the tempting jaws of consumerism, or being accused of joining the bandwagon (which seems to have a negative connotation), we shouldn’t feel regret or shame for wanting to be a part of the hype once in a while, and we shouldn’t try to prevent others from experiencing it for themselves. 

While we’re trying to juggle endless activities, big events, people, it’s almost a blessing for the most important thing in our lives to be a sandwich, even if just for a fleeting moment. It reminds us of our childlike instincts, bringing us back to the days when we’d cry if our parents didn’t let us buy that toy we saw in Target. 

That feeling of triumph to get to the front of the line, the anticipation of that first bite are so small, so insignificant that we forget about it almost immediately after it happens. And yet, they’re so important. Because putting so much belief into something we haven’t even seen or tried for ourselves, being so excited that we can’t wait another second — it’s a feeling that nothing else can replace.

So next time a new food item or other product hits mass markets, we can tell ourselves that it’s okay to let go, to pursue that small risk.
Even if we’re disappointed by the truth in the end, we at least deserve to give ourselves that much hope. 

All illustrations by Emily Xia