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“Vibe shift” – it’s the phrase cropping up over and over again on social media recently. But what does it mean?

Depending on your view, the internet is taking the mickey – or going through something of a collective crisis – after the publication of an article in The Cut titled “A Vibe Shift is Coming”.

The title of the article, written by Allison P. Davis, might sound like something Alan Partridge would say, but it details the imminent emergence of new trends – suggesting that culture is on the cusp of real change.

As ever, when things change and new trends emerge, it can make people feel a lot older very quickly, and more out of touch – so it’s only natural that it’s got everybody talking.

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According to Davis and trend forecaster Sean Monahan who she consulted in the article, the wedge between Gen Z and millennials – which became more apparent thanks to the pandemic – is widening at a rapid pace now.

As Davis writes, while it’s not entirely clear which form this great shift will take, there’s a key question coming for people as the world begins to emerge from the pandemic.

What's the next big trend going to be?Wikimedia/Creative Commons

It basically boils down to this: Are you going to bother trying to keep up with fashion and lifestyle trends which are sure to proliferate on TikTok and social media over the coming months and years, or do you “do you” and find your own particular vibe, ignoring them completely.

“Do I try to opt in to whatever trend comes next, or do I choose to accept that my last two good years were spent on my couch gobbling antidepressants and wearing ‘cute house pants” and UGGs?’” she writes in the piece.

What form could the trends take? According to Monahan, he thinks it could mean the return of indie sleaze from the early 00s (“American Apparel, flash photography at parties, and messy hair and messy makeup”), while he also thinks there’ll be a “return of irony”.

The piece has generated a wave of discussion online, and it’s also quickly become one of the funniest memes out there.

At the crux of it, the article focuses on the mindset of millennials – the only generation to have experienced life pre and post-internet, remember – who are grappling with the idea of getting older, and some understandably have a chip on their shoulder after having some of their prime years snatched away by the pandemic.

People don’t tend to like change, but Davis is certain it’s coming and it’s easy to see why. Crucially, it’s up to you whether you're bothered about following it, or not.

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