From time to time I like to make humorous comments on online videos relating to good or bad music, and this morning when I woke up I thought that an online commentator replying after I did on a particular thread was calling me an Edge Lord. Although Edge is in the name of my blog (Edge Induced Cohesion), I did not particularly consider myself an Edge Lord nor do I refer to myself as such a thing. In trying to define the term and understand how it is used by others, whether as self-identification or labeling others, I saw that it usually referred to cynical people who were trying very hard to be edgy and to make shocking and controversial opinions simply for the sake of being shocking and controversial. Admittedly, some of my opinions are a bit edgy and controversial, but I do not pretend to hold opinions that I do not simply for the sake of shocking other people. I think my actual opinions, often complicated and nuanced, are shocking enough that I do not need to pretend to be more edgy than I really am. On the other hand, those definitions of Edge Lord that included references to cynicism and being fond of memes did seem to apply to me in at least some respects .
Even though on the particular thread I was trolling, the opinions I stated were not false ones. A Canadian reviewer of music who is fond of obscure country music divided his best songs of 2017 into two videos, and I along with a few other people were joking about songs that did not make the list. I commented, for example, on “Jesus Gang,” a humorous parody about the monotonously repetitive “Gucci Gang,” a song that actually has been in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 for what seems like months. I also commented on songs by AJR (“Bud Like You”) and Noah Cyrus (“Stay Together”). Now, while both of these songs are pretty unpopular, I genuinely like them, although the reasoning is complicated. AJR is the more straightforward case, being a band whose sophomore album “The Click” has been nearly universally loathed by musical critics and with one Hot 100 hit single on it, the jittery “Weak.” “Bud Like You” is a catchy singalong that portrays the narrator as being happy to have found a like-minded person at a party that is not going well, making it sort of a humorous version of Alessia Cara’s much darker “Here.” Since the singers are ironically aware of the silliness of their situation, I can appreciate their song unironically.
With Noah Cyrus the situation is a bit more complicated. Noah Cyrus is, as one might guess, a younger sibling of Miley Cyrus, and although Noah happens to be a boy’s name generally Noah Cyrus is most definitely a young woman still under 18 as I write whose debut album was predictably and lamentably titled NC-17. “Stay Together” is a song that shows a cynical Noah urging a handsome and possibly older boy that she meets at a bar or club (!) to stay together and lie to his friends that he is staying out late while looking forward to being with him however long it lasts. Apparently at the ripe old age of 17 she has decided that nothing lasts forever but it’s fun to stay together for the night. How she acquired this knowledge is unknown. Yet my feelings about this song are not hostile, but rather filled with a sense of compassion. After all, the song was co-written by Emily Warren, a singer-songwriter who has done work with the Chainsmokers and who is on the team of one Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke happens to be a famous producer and songwriter who is best known these days as the villain of the “Free Kesha” campaign, and the subject of Kesha’s achingly gorgeous song “Praying.” My thoughts on the matter are that someone took advantage of a young Noah Cyrus and that she is trying to have as much fun as she can in a fallen and broken world where she lacks faith in others but still longs for love and intimacy.
Let us now return after this digression to the issue of being an edge lord. It would be rather edgy to pretend to like a song like “Stay Together” or a singer like Noah Cyrus, who is somehow at least the fourth member of her family to have a successful pop music career (!). To really like such a song, even in a complicated and nuanced way, though, is a different matter entirely. Social media and the internet is currently being shaped by a war between edge lords and snowflakes. Edge Lords attempt to shock and provoke what they view are the excessively sensitive snowflakes, while snowflakes counter with shaming and “outing” of those whose behavior transgresses norms of dignity and respect and honor. If the #MeToo movement is any evidence, the snowflakes are ascendant at present, although if it were a shooting match rather than a shouting match, I’d probably prefer to have the Edge Lords on my side if they were not all talk and no action themselves.
I think it would be best to be neither, though. I have already mentioned that I find it uncharitable and dishonest to hold views that one does not possess in order to shock other people. Even if we may think a large population of our society to be a bit oversensitive, most of us have sensitivities that we do our best to protect or disguise and can be triggered with fairly disastrous results. Likewise we are people who generally desire to be treated with respect and honor. Even Edge Lords adopt their tough and cynical exterior as a result of life in a harsh world and shock others that they may gain fear and respect for being tough-minded in a world where that is not always a common quality. Likewise snowflakes tend to be most triggered and offended by disrespect and dishonor, and given the results of abuse, I do not find it a bad thing to feel it necessary to treat others with respect and honor, regardless of what we may think about them and their sensitivities. Most of us are people who would want others to be able to take our more unpalatable opinions and judgments and would want others to be understanding and generous-minded to our sensitivities, and so we would all be better off being a bit more tough-minded when it came to dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous and more kind to others. As one might expect, though, this is much easier said than done for all of us.
 See, for example: