Fidget Spinner & Rubik’s Cube: The Tale of Distant Cousins 

It’s no secret today’s kids get a lot of flak. They don’t dress right, they have zero attention span, they stare at a glowing plastic screen all day, etc. etc. etc..

Sure, I’ve heard all of these statements. But the other day I was watching someone at work spin this toy thing on their finger for minutes upon minutes. Finally I asked: “What is that thing?” “A fidget spinner” he replied. And so it began.

Something about it struck me as odd. Well, many things about it struck me as odd. First, apparently this is a country wide phenomenon, to the likes of the infamous Furby revolution. They didn’t exist and then bam, there they are. The 2nd thing was how no one was making the obvious comparisons to the Rubik’s Cube. It’s a no brainer for me. Make sense or not, these things are cousins. Well, distant cousins.

The toys have some major differences though, the Rubik’s cube was a problem solving mechanism. It had a mission statement. That little cube stared at you, playing or not, and demanded to be solved. For the majority, the RC was a puzzling, difficult contraption that was a bicycle for the brain. A tool for young and older minds alike.

The Fidget Spinner is none of that. It’s a thing that spins, thats it. It doesn’t even try to be advantageous. It has no motivation or drive. It just spins. Even someone as dimwitted as myself could see the potential for some kind of gaming experience or challenge inducing feature. Like just thinking out loud, maybe a digital counter to number the spins. So when you pass it from person to person, they could compete for the most spins. I don’t know, you get the idea. But no, the Fidget Spinner effortlessly lacks the ambition.

So your probably asking why are these things distant cousins? Simple reason I tell you, the masses are consuming it. Sure the majority of certain demographics play with other items in large scale. Video games, cell phones come to mind, but this is a plastic little toy.

Here’s why this is somewhat scary to me. The way my brain works is odd sometimes. I try and reverse situations to make sense out of them. So here I go. If the Fidget Spinner was released when the Rubik’s Cube was (1974), is it a hit? Is it a run away, hands down worldwide sensation? Or what about the Rubik’s Cube? If the Rubik’s Cube took the stage in 2017, does every young child to early adult lust for one?

I mentioned in the first paragraph what the general consensus of the young generation is to some. Lazy, unambitious, and mostly idle, a zero competitive spirit, etc. Personally, I don’t really believe that. I’ve always believed you can’t judge by the majority, you have to do your due diligence and judge on a person to person basis. Thats how I would want to be judged.

I will say this though, with the rise of the Fidget Spinners, I’m scratching my head harder then ever. Truth is, the Rubik’s Cube wouldn’t make it in today’s world. It’s problem solving, thinking required, mentally intimidating demeanor would be unattractive in comparison to the Fidget Spinner customers. Which makes me wonder more than ever; after the Fidget Spinners time in the limelight is long gone and the masses spin their last fidget, what comes next?

Could it be that the these toys mirror the current state of cultural and societal span of attentions? I seriously hope not. But it does raise the question quite boldly.

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