Vibe Shift

March 28, 2022 Vibes Kyle Chayka Allison P. Davis Sean Monahan Neologism

Sometimes, an insight might not be particularly earth-shattering, but nevertheless grabs our attention simple because it puts a name to something previously intangible.1

Case in point: Allison P. Davis’ article about the Vibe Shift” in The Cut, which talks about a professional trend forecaster called Sean Monahan who coined the term:

A vibe shift is the catchy but sort of too-cool term Monahan uses for a relatively simple idea: In the culture, sometimes things change, and a once-dominant social wavelength starts to feel dated.

The vibe” itself, is one of those terms that seemingly came out of nowhere in 2021 and was suddenly everywhere. Kyle Chayka in his The Year in Vibes” summary from December:

What did it mean? What didn’t it mean? Vibe” was a placeholder for an unplaceable feeling or impression, an atmosphere that you couldn’t or didn’t want to put into words. You didn’t like a bar because the vibe was off. The new Netflix show has kind of a Sopranos” vibe. The two of them didn’t vibe as a couple. It’s a linguistic shortcut for the ineffable.

Davis talks a lot about the unnerving nature of the vibe shift—particularly as people come out of the pandemic, there’s a real sense of having lost touch with the current vibe, or feeling a sense of anxiousness that what they perceived to be the vibe of the time might already be passé.

There’s been a real paranoia that people have. Everyone coming out of hibernation being like, What are people wearing? What are people reading? What are people doing? And it was different than when everyone had gone into the pandemic. It unsettled a lot of people,” Monahan says, commiserating, I think.

  1. Real Life Mag has embraced this as a genre, publishing New Feeling”, a column devoted to the desires, moods, pathologies, and identifications that rarely had names before digital media”.↩︎

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