Imagine a woman who bought expensive new dresses every few months, new dresses that matched the latest dress fashions. But she denied that she personally cared about fashion. Instead, she said: “New dresses are just better. For example, new materials are better.”
Another of the possible ugly reasons is fear of being despised for wearing unfashionable clothes.
See also: 'Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.'-- Oscar Wilde
It's scary to think that there might be a parallel with popular topics-- they aren't very good, but people don't know what very good is, so they just keep thrashing from one mediocre topic to another.
What about convenience and what's fresh in your mind? Fashionable topics are probably in your news feed, and on whatever radio talk shows you listen to on your way to work. They're things that others may rant to you about. So even with no particular intentions, you could end up having these topics at your fingertips.
And like you've said more than once, never underestimate the power of boredom. We all get tired of the same topics around the same time.
I review movies in part because the studios spend a lot of money to get people interested in something or other this week.
So I often have to read up on some topic I hadn't previously known much about in order to come up with a novel insight for a movie review. For example, "The Imitation Game" got me to read up on Alan Turing so I could say something not too stupid about the great man.
The idea that people have hidden motives is hardly a new one and in most cases individuals involved have a pretty good idea of what hidden motives might be at play. When my lawyer tells me that I need legal work to deal with an unexpected source of legal obligation, I hardly need an economist to tell me that he's saying this so he'll make more money. All of the "hidden" motives you give for a woman who likes buying clothes are pretty obvious and intuitive, and I don't find it plausible that your counterintuitive motives for covering trendy topics exert significant influence. Everyone involved with blogging knows that the name of the game is getting traffic for your blog. This book is good: http://www.amazon.com/Trust... Writing about a trendy topic is a good way to get traffic--it's easier to ride someone else's wave than create a new one.
But even some perfectly utilitarian blogger with no ugly motives would probably write about trendy topics if they were important ones. Perfect utilitarians also want traffic so their voices are better heard, and it makes sense for society to have Schelling points where everyone can contribute their views on a particular topic around the same time so the best ideas rise to the top of the discussion. So it’s more sensible to complain about people discussing mundane, relatively unimportant topics because they are trendy.
This is rather a utilitarian view of fashion.
Maybe people follow fashionable topics because they are interesting. As more people take interests in the topic and talk about it, it genuinely becomes interesting to them. It doesn't mean that they are seeking it out to show off something about themselves.
With fashion, I believe that hairstyles in the 80s look worse than today's styles. It isn't like I see two styles as equals, but choose one because it will get more benefits in society. I genuinely think one is uglier even if I know objectively, they should be the same.
The ugliest reason people follow fashions is because they are more influenced by groupthink than they realize.
Sure some of those logical reasons play the part especially if someone actively seeks out the latest fashions, but I feel like this misses a big sociological factor that influences people's behavior.
But it would seem that old intellectuals are less likely to follow trends than younger ones.
While it's true that imitators signal that they are lower status than those they imitate, imitation isn't necessarily (or even generally) low status. (If it were, we wouldn't do it so much and so obviously.) Status is often effectively pursued directly.
The reason we hide our status-drives, even from ourselves, isn't that acting on them directly is low status but rather because they engender hostility. [As you say, status isn't all we seek, and folks often don't want to bond with the arrogant.]
It is also true that status is not effectively pursued directly as it becomes imitation and tend following, so we must pursue other objectives, lead and promote them, hoping it results in status. Status may be one of our goals, but it isn't necessarily our only one, nor our most immediate one, curiosity and learning come to mind.
So what motivates Neoreaction, then? Fashion, or genuine misgivings about the Enlightenment's experiment after 250 years?
I find the idea fascinating as a cryonicist because I have my doubts about the progress myth promoted by the partisans of the Moral Arc Reactor. If cryonics could make you individually survivable over a longer than usual span, you could find yourself in future societies which have rolled back at least parts of the Enlightenment's social agenda. At the very least that could happen through a drunkard's walk.
I can see that the feminist women in cryonics get really uncomfortable when I bring up the possibility of their revival in a patriarchal future society where the men wouldn't indulge them in the way they have become accustomed to; so I acknowledge that as a guilty pleasure motivating my interest in Neoreactionary thought.
OK, that counts as a distinct excuse, but like the other excuses it is unlikely to plausibly explain very much of the total fashion following activity.
Like everybody else, intellectuals get old and repetitious. Paying attention to hot new topics is a way to force yourself to learn new things at an age when you'd rather just repeat yourself.
Folks less like talking to each other than they think they do (all else being equal).
After a while these things become a bit philosophical. We like talking to other people so we talk to other people, but the reasons we like talking to other people are evolutionary and may have to do with signalling. Whether we talk to each other because we like to or because there are evolutionary reasons depends on what exactly you mean by "because". It's only when we start to consciously make up explanations that go beyond "I just like doing it", and that deny the evolutionary/signalling reasons, that hypocrisy can occur.
You think that people don't actually like talking to each other, then?
At some point I realized that I wanted my children to do well at least partly so that I could brag about them. Now I tell my son "study so that I have something to brag about". Also I find that if I predict a team will in a sport I then really want them to win but some people seem to be able to just always go for the local team.