The season of breezy weather, trick-or-treating, football, sweatshirts, bonfires, leaves, and holidays is finally here. And thanks to the modern human culture we live in, at least in America, we can look forward to the return of several trends. Trends that will show up everywhere. There is no escape. If you aren’t ready now, get ready.
Just before the 13 nights of Halloween on ABC family and the Black Friday anticipation, autumn fever creeps up on you and gets you right in the social life.
We’ll talk about how, but first,
About fourteen months ago, I started my first job at a bakery cafe. I’ll use a fake name; let’s call it something like, I dunno, Panera Bread. A plucky young rising high school senior, I was equipped with naivety and an adorable smile. I was ready to take orders. I was ready to make money. I was ready to take on the challenge of food service.
After a month or so of getting used to things, autumn came around.
Hundreds upon hundreds of boots tracked their way through the establishment. Thousands upon thousands of dollars were made solely from the purchase of hot drinks. Girls in flannels sat by the fake fireplace. I would sweep leaves off of the floor just by the front door. My coworkers and I would joke about closing up shop and throwing ourselves a Halloween party. The weather was beautiful, the business was steady, and I was making bank, so I had few complaints.
But everything changed when the pumpkin spice nation attacked.
“Could I get a pumpkin spice latte?”
“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte.”
“Yeah can I have two pumpkin muffins please?”
“Could you put extra whipped cream on the latte?”
“Do you have pumpkin spice yet?”
“*watching me make latte* Sorry for staring haha, it’s just interesting to see how it’s actually made.”
“Can I get extra pumpkin spice?”
“Can I have pumpkin spice wifi?”
“Can you send a pumpkin muffin directly to my instagram @firstnamelastname_lovesyou?”
“Can you inject pumpkin spice into my leggings?”
“Can I have pumpkin spice sprinkled all over your hopes and dreams?”
That was when it all became clear to me. Autumn is not just a time of year. It’s a lifestyle.
My story marks the beginning of my appreciation, concern, confusion, and overall interest regarding what I call “autumn fever.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about the fall. Personally, it’s my favorite season too. However, it seems as though the entire season has been turned into something that we broadcast instead of something we simply enjoy. It’s autumn overkill.
I’m certain that I’ll soon have to take periodical breaks from chain stores and from social media. We share things that give off the IMPRESSION that fall is here, and we’re excited about it. We manage other people’s impressions, regulate other people’s emotions, and seek out social bonding in essentially announcing “’tis the season.”
Bed Bath & Beyond is breaking out their fall inventory. Quite predictably, it is pumpkin everything. The department stores are putting the shorts and tanks on clearance, and rolling out the infinity scarves, the boots, the flannels, the beanies, and jeans. The coffee shops are serving latte after latte. If you venture out of your home, autumn will punch you in the face, knocking you down into the pile of leaves that someone will come along and take a photo of for the ‘gram. But they won’t just capture the pile, of course. You have to get your friend to capture you throwing some of the leaves into the air.
We poke fun at the photos of girls holding a Starbucks drink while wearing a flannel, because they’re “basic.” I won’t get into what defines something as basic, but the elements of those photos will still crowd our timelines regardless of our opinions. You will see the Starbucks. You will see the new boots standing on the leafy ground. You will see the fuzzy socks peeking out from inside the boots. You will see the flannel. If you let it, the autumn fever will infect you. It’s almost inevitable.
While the season itself seems to take over everything, there are two specific days that really make us go crazy: Halloween and Thanksgiving.
You just can’t beat cuddling and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, playing scary pranks, and throwing costume parties. You also can’t beat being surrounded by twenty relatives you don’t really like and eating yourself into a happy coma.
And you can’t beat those Halloween costumes. They’re so fun and authentic and don’t sexualize females at all.
But did you really enjoy these holidays if you didn’t make sure you broadcasted them? How would anyone know you had a decent Friday unless you post a picture of your finished jack-o-lantern? How will anyone know how adorable your grandmother is unless you take a selfie with her at the dinner table? And was your holiday complete if you didn’t almost throw your turkey at the television out of frustration with your favorite football team?
Wear Uggs on Friday, wear a North Face jacket on Saturday, and wear the jersey of your favorite quarterback on Sunday. Fill your home with the scents of the candles you found as soon as you walked into Bed Bath & Beyond. Bake cookies. Embrace the times. Live in these moments.
But to take every moment in those four months, and hashtag it, or geotag it, or filter it, or raise the price on it, or shove it into everyone’s lives with no mercy… is this how we want to spend the season? If we do, it’s not the end of the world. I have no problem continuing to satirize seasonal human behavior.
Autumn fever is highly contagious. You might find yourself taking a pic or two of the trees. And you should; they’re gorgeous. You might find yourself ordering a pumpkin spice latte. And you should; you might enjoy it. Just pace yourself.
So, yes. It is now the season of homecoming. And cool weather. And delicious smells. And holiday specials. And friends and family. And sweaters. And boots. And leaves. And being #thankful. And lattes. The infection certainly will not kill you. You might even wish for it to not go away. It’s truly a beautiful time of year.
Maybe that’s why we choose to broadcast our “enjoyment.” We aren’t just seeking attention. We aren’t just playing with filters. We aren’t just paying for pumpkin flavored foods because it’s a trend. Maybe we are embracing both the season and our connectedness at the same time. Maybe we’re excited that we aren’t the only ones who are excited. Autumn is awesome, right? Why not share it? I mean,
we’re all human.