There were trends at my school. Most of them were dumb. Here were four of the trends I remember.
1. Fidget Spinners
I dunno how this even started, but in a jiffy, everybody had at least one fidget spinner. You could show off your fidget spinners, do weird challenges and competitions. Some kids even bought expensive fidget spinners. Gold, rainbow, diamond. If you had an expensive fidget spinner, you were automatically a cool kid.
2. Mechanical Pencils
Ah, mechanical pencils. These were one of the most popular of pencils. To be honest, I don't think they were "trendy", they broke rapidly and you would have to refill them with lead. Speaking of lead, I remember one of my classmates ate a piece of lead.
3. Fortnite Dances
Some of the most popular Fortnite dances were the Hype, Orange Justice, and Floss. Master all three and you were cool. Parents even started to get on the Fortnite dance wagon, too. But most of them were bad. I remember an assembly I had to attend and one of the actors did a Fortnite dance.
4. Old Town Road
This song blew up at my school. It's an "eh" song, not the best, but kids worshipped this song. Fun event? It's not fun if Old Town Road didn't play. And once it did, all of the kids would start singing. Once, I had to go to this ceremony event for one of my quarters, and they played Old Town Road.
Nah, there are more addictive, less wholesome, microtransaction phone games they have for kids these days. Phone pokemon are the best alternative to tamagotchi that kids have, and it only gets worse on the way down.
They weren't really popular in my school, but I do remember one of my friends had a Tamagotchi or something like that.
Shit, even I remember fidget spinners, and I was like a freshman. It's weird and disgusting that they're still doing it.
I actually prefer mechanical pencils. I have multiple that are many years old, and they don't break often at all if you get more in tune with the right speed, pressure, and length of lead. I found them preferable for drawing. I actually have several points to make about pencils, but I'll save them for the followup.
I can only hope that Fortnite dances are just how the CIA tells which family needs castration chemicals in their water.
I liked Old Town Road a little bit before they started playing it everywhere. Since I was getting out of school at the height of its popularity and gained more control of the media that was blasted at me, I didn't listen to it overwhelmingly much and still like it a little. It for sure stopped that dad joke they used to pass around that "I came up with a new genre of music! It's a combination of country and rap. I call it CRAP!" though, knowing how the pendulum swings, they're probably doubling down on it now.
~~~ Part 2, in which Sent divulges his extensive experience with pencils ~~~
In the old days when mechanical pencils were less popular, I had to keep multiple sets of wooden pencils.
The high-tier pencils were the ones that I couldn't use for anything except the most important and/or artistic tasks, that I could always rely on because they happened to be the magical, one-in-a-million pencils that had their lead perfectly centered so I wouldn't get them all fucked up by sharpening them. I kept them in a special pocket in the middle of my backpack so that they had shock absorbers on either side to avoid breaking off their pristine points. The fact that these were an elite few despite the massive amount that had to be manufactured was just depressing.
The middle-tier pencils were the ones that were functional, but were either past their prime or lacked the genetic perfection of the superior pencils. They might have been very short, or their erasers might have been worn down, or they were misaligned just enough to be annoying to sharpen.
Misalignment is the worst (and unfortunately the most common) issue, because you had to get them to not be bald on one side and fall out, or sharpen them down to a point where it was closer to the middle because the lead within them was crooked. Or they were misalinged in such a way that they were perfectly straight but they would forever have a lopsided edge unless you cut the wood off on one side by using the very inside edge of a scissors, or your teeth. (This is the only time I would ever chew on a pencil)
They were perfectly usable for all except artistic endeavours, which is why I would usually keep them in my right hoodie pocket so they'd be readily available. They could occassionally ascend to high-tier pencils with the right treatment, but this would be a temporary state, and I never really kept my hopes up, because the commodity of a good pencil was rarely something I could keep track of.
Shit-tier pencils were exactly what you're probably thinking. The broken ones where the lead has fallen out all the way to the middle, the ones that are just straight up broken, the quasimodo pencils with lead so bent it may as well not even be in the point that gets sharpened.
I kept them around mostly because I would periodically test them at the sharpener to see if anything would become of them. Sometimes I would try sharpening them very slowly for a long time if I didn't feel like paying attention or doing in-class work. The ones with twisted chewed-up metal bits were excellent for stabbing guys who got too pushy.
Plus since those were garbage pencils, when they claimed you stabbed them with a sharpened metal end of a pencil and then discretely chuck them in the garbage, you can claim that you had no such pencil. They were good for brief excursions of self-defense. Pens hurt more, but they leave nasty telltale marks, which the person casually hitting and shoving you around doesn't leave. They also stand a better chance (at least in my action-movie-addled kid brain) of causing deep, organ injuries, which freaked me out as a kid. The sharpened tip of the mostly flat end of a pencil would be painful, but less actively harmful.
The overly short/middle aged pencils were also excellent for shooting long distances bow-and-arrow style using rubber bands. You could send those things sailing across the room without the teacher noticing because you didn't actually make any movements. I usually liked my teachers though, so the pencil archery didn't serve much of a purpose to me personally except that when my fingers slipped, I would feel deeply embarrassed whenever I was playing with a rubber band and accidentally sent it loudly clattering against a wall when they stopped talking.
Needless to say, you never know when you might need a good burner pencil, so I kept a bunch handy in my left pocket, or sometimes my sleeve if I suspected I might need them on short notice. (or if I was carrying something else in my left pocket, usually a note, gum, or something.)
I also made a note to memorize the rooms with the newest, most effective sharpeners for pencils, because a good sharpener could easily make up for some of the latent flaws in a pencil that was simply born wrong. The 6th grade math teacher in middle school had invested in some brand new pencil sharpeners with fancy see-thru sawdust holders, and they always seemed to work, though they could never quite correct a lopsided quasimodo pencils.
That's not something to hold against a pencil sharpener, since only the best of the best can ensure a lopsided pencil actually remains useful despite its disabilities. But, if you had faith that your pencil lead was aligned well enough that it could stand up to being shaved to a perfectly centered cone, then that was the one you would use.
The ones in the library were those ancient motherfuckers, with canisters made from stamped sheets of chrome with rust spots on them. I think those are from the 40s and 50s. Suitably for a machine that's old as fuck, they sounded like a cartoon car without any radiator fluid whenever you cranked something up in it.
They worked about as well as could be expected, and it seemed like their only purpose was to make hilariously loud rattling noises in designated quiet areas. Whenever I was sitting around reading, I'd always know, sometimes even from outside the room, whenever somebody needed their pencil sharpened. (or whenever somebody was procrastinating, because those things were more likely to break your point and keep you eternally sharpening than to actually sharpen anything.)
The one in the wood shop in high school was less ancient, because the canister had the mottled steel 'feet' and the gray plastic sawdust box with the chrome edges, but it somehow managed to yield better quality than those older library ones even though it sounded like a cartoon car without any radiator fluid when you ground things up in it.
The one problem was that it was a fucking black hole. Those plastic crank ones were usually like that. The helical drills inside them were a little too sharp- While they were no doubt extremely effective, they took big bites of wood with them and almost felt like they were sucking your pencil into the machine at like an inch per rotation. Ah well, I guess the pencil that writes twice as sharp... Is half as long.
The locker room in middle school for some unknowable reason had pencil sharpeners, but I only ever wanted to be in and out of that place as quickly as possible, so I never actually used them, that I remember, but they probably had the same above-average quality that most of the "new" reflective 80s-90s sharpeners had. The ones in secluded and paperwork-free areas of the building, like the computer labs, were used less often, and so I reasoned that they were probably even sharper. Whenever I was wandering the halls in middle school, I would usually try and duck into a computer lab to top off any middle-tier pencils.
I would also steal the handheld plastic sharpeners whenever I could find them on the ground or in the hallways. They were a treasured loot, because (assuming they were exactly the right fit) they were twice as effective as all those wall-mounted sharpeners. That was the thing though, oftentimes they were dropped for a reason.
Often times the ones that were dropped weren't fitted for the standard ones, so you had to sort of sharpen them at an angle. Some of them only worked for rounded pencils, others were too loose for round pencils and would break the tips. Others were weirdly short, and while they could get any pencil to a working state, they would never get it sharp because they only sharpened at such an obtuse fucking angle. Some of them were also just plain sucky and would snap the pencil off in bits and splinters rather than give the proper sharp, peeling action.
The 6th grade math teacher himself was a 6 foot man from Texas/Colorado with a horseshoe mustache the thickness of a burmese python, and if you only had brand new, unsharpened pencils, he could produce a freakishly efficient pencil point with a few swishes. I never really tried to get him to do it, so I only had a pencil he sharpened for me once, but I could tell that he was doing some sorcerous shit because when I eventually had to sharpen it again, that turned out to have secretly been one of those shitty, infuriating, lop-sided lead ones that would always break with the slightest fucking pressure. It was probably best that I didn't bother him to sharpen my pencils personally, because he knew I would attempt to waste time in his class drawing whenever he wasn't paying attention.
The art teacher at my high school would also sharpen her pencils (on occassion) with a scalpel during homeroom, and people were floored that she was able to/allowed to do that. Naturally, she didn't sharpen pencils like that for students because these blades were less durable and there were too many emo kids. I don't know what the tools were actually supposed to be for? I guess for the oil painting kids, maybe. Or it could've been a clay thing, but I don't know when you'd need something that sharp for just to fuck with clay.
Anyway, enter mechanical pencils. Suddenly, there was the answer to all my qualms. No longer did I have to eugenically select and then vigilantly protect the perfect specimens that I'd be too afraid to waste on anything- No longer would I have to face the fear of breaking a freshly sharpened tip, or fucking up my paper with lead dust that I didn't blow off properly. No longer did I have to keep track of 5 different pencils in my right pocket and have them carefully memorized by order of degradation and how much that degradation could be mitigated.
Suddenly, the answer was simple. I had a device with a single, consistent output of high-quality lines, it didn't degrade with use, I could just steal lead from any discarded, abandoned, and/or broken mechanical pencils of similar size and make. I didn't need a new pencil every time I wore the eraser down, I could just replace the eraser in a similar manner.
Sure, it didn't create the dark, strong lines that a perfect high-tier pencil at its very sharpest could be, but it did provide the same lines that a high-tier pencil could make while it's still relatively fresh, and that condition wouldn't unexpectedly degrade over time, it was consistent. I wasn't constantly at the sharpener, meticulously honing useless outdated sharpener skills.
And most importantly, they were good for everything. Writing, math, and drawing. No longer were teachers clued in to the fact that I might have been secretly scribbling violent stickmen whenever I got out a really suspiciously fresh, perfect-looking pencil. I used the same handful of mechanical pencils (I kept a few for different lead sizes, based on what I could scavenge) for every task, and they weren't able to discern shit.
I would advise you to give mechanical pencils a second look. I was skeptical for similar reasons myself, but as soon as I got ahold of one and actually looked at it, I was floored by how much it opened up and optimized my school life by removing the complexities and niggling annoyances of this feature of school life that I constantly had to keep on top of.
Mechanicals are the Robocop of pencils. Lacking in a few minor areas, the ol' Harry Callahan might do some better policework from time to time, but that's only because he's the best of the best. A functional robocop is pretty much just better than your average wooden pencil in every major way.
Sharpeners were rarely good enough to keep a quality pencil that way, and good quality pencils were hard enough to find in the first place. New pencils were exceedingly rare to get ahold of unless you (yuck!) paid money for them at the school store, and you had to buy one of the large packs because the single novelty pencils you could get ahold of were of inferior make, had dozens of other potential points of failure in addition to the typical misalignment defects, and often garbage tier by default.
The novelty ones with the chewed off erasers were only better shivs because, if you peeled off the plastic printed "paint" on top, the white enamel paint underneath was slightly stickier and "grippier" and wouldn't slip in your hands as much as a smooth glossy octagonal pencil when stabbing.
If you buy into the mass pencil scam, it was basically like a boring and clinical version of one of those mystery bags they make for kids' toys. There was a definitive maximum potential that could be reasonably expected from half of them. Few ever reached the heights of functionality that a high-tier pencil could bring, and high tier pencils then had to be carefully and strenuously maintained because they lose their edge very easily.
This made them useless for writing because such a task used up a lot of pencil lead, and so you would constantly have to stop midway and sharpen in order to get good consistency. If you happened to be in a room with a bad sharpener, this was out of the question. Math typically used less lead, but it was also really fucking boring and not worth the care and attention, so I sure as shit wasn't using it there.
The only practical use for these aesthetics were for drawing, and teachers knew this, so eyes were on me whenever I pulled them out in any class other than art. And even then, I could only use them for lining rather than sketching, because lead this sharp was impossible to erase. It was high risk to pop out a nearly finished drawing that I was proud enough to start lining from a sketch, because teachers who knew you weren't just sketching up extra credit for art may arbitrarily decide to destroy it, which is the tradition. Hence why 90% of the time my drawings pre-high school were just the mad scrawlings of someone attempting to draw all the lines right the first time.
However, let's say I was in study hall, these would be ideal circumstances for the High Tier pencil to be used. Teachers wouldn't be paying attention to me, I wouldn't be expected to work on something for any one class in particular, and I could go and use the sharpener as often as required. There enters the difficult compromise of changing line thickness. Rather than lining the sketch out naturally, I have to choose to line the parts of the sketch that have fine details or sharp corners first. Woe betide me if I don't, because if the point wears down it becomes just a normal pencil and will not outline nearly so well.
Rather than compromising the life expectancy of the pencil by stopping to sharpen every other line (a particularly kafka-esque nightmare because I only had a limitted amount of free time and there was still the omnipresent threat of being caught.) I would either use multiple high-quality pencils (highly conspicuous) or just accept degradation over the course of the drawing. A mechanical pencil offers none of these drawbacks because it is constantly and forever at 90% sharpness, rather than a high quality wooden pencil which is only superior to that level 10% of the time.
Oh, actually, that was a trend at my school! A big trend, too! They sold them at my school store, the kids went crazy over them.
We went through a Pokemon card trend, too. Nobody actually played the game though, they just wanted to flex their mega charizards.
The only fad of any major note we had in elementary school were Garbage Pail Kids cards/stickers.
Dead Ted was one of my favorites.
Other than that it was mainly just toys based on popular cartoons/movies at the time (He-Man, Voltron, GI Joe, Thundercats, Star Wars, etc.)
I do remember a lot of the girls had these I guess what you'd call charm bracelets, but they were plastic and had all sorts of mini items on it ranging from stuff like little plastic scissors to little plastic toilets. Some girls had so many items on their bracelet, it wasn't even practical to wear the damn thing and they just hung them on their waist or purse.
I dunno, only really saw them for about one school year though.
As far as mechanical pencils were concerned, the only reason why anyone in school would use them to any great degree was to pretend they were syringes and shooting drugs into their arm. Lol.
When I was slightly younger than you are now, I remember a couple trends popping up at various points. I rarely ever jumped on the bandwagon when they appeared, or when I did, it was always at the tail end of things. There were these things called silly bands, which were basically just bracelets that came in a bunch of different shapes. I finally bought a pack of them two or three weeks before my teacher banned them for some reason. Yo-yos were also popular, but I think that might have just been specific to my elementary school, because it all started when some guy gave a presentation on them to the whole school in order to sell them. Again, it took me awhile to get in on it, and when I did I only managed to get myself this cheap plastic one from some arcade somewhere. Everyone else's were made of METAL, so they were always doing crazy tricks with them that I had no hope of replicating with mine. Bayblades were a similar situation for me. I never won with the plastic knockoffs I bought. Oh yeah, and Tek-Deks were a thing that existed once too. Never really jumped in on that one.
Shit, I also remember Silly Bandz. Those were like, the thing during 2015. They were immensely popular for all of a month and completely forgotten about the next year.
Slap bracelets, unlike silly bandz, were actually fun. And useful too, now that the ones they have are almost always actual rulers. It'd ordinarily not be ergonomic at all to carry a ruler around on your person.
I remember silly bands, but I remember them being popular in 2010/2011.
I remember it being in middle school, so on my end it couldn't have been earlier than 2013
Are those the things kids used to shoot at each other? I remember collecting a whole plastic bag's worth of them just by looking around my school gym's floor in middle school. Needless to say, the teachers were NOT on board with the whole thing.
These bracelets were popular for a hot second. I had dozens of them and you bet your ass I wore them all at once. ;~P
Sorry, I'll get back to work ;~P