BUCK THE TRENDS: daring to go against the dominant ways of society

bucking trends

A child loving a book instead of an electronic device is something that makes a librarian’s heart sing.  It doesn’t really have to be either/or; there are times when the electronic device is appropriate.  But the disposal of books in the belief that there is nothing left to read but Kindles or IPads is a mistake.

When a child is thrilled to receive a book to read it is more than a choice between good and bad.  It is a sign that the quality of printed materials has not been lost.  In doing so, a child (or a parent) has demonstrated the freedom to be different.  One way of expressing that is to say someone is known to buck the trends of society.

I can remember when I saw the first grown man wearing Bermuda shorts in public.   He was bucking the trend in men’s clothing practices, and was ahead of the market.   Similarly, the wearing of tattoos and skin piercing are trends that were bucked but are now quite normal in our culture.

The term comes to us primarily from the financial world, where an investor is said to buck the trends when taking a route of investment which defies the prevailing wisdom of the market.  One source says it this way:

To buck the trend is “to be obviously different from the way that a situation is developing generally, especially in connection with financial matters”

There is an anticipated response to a particular trend in financial transactions, but the person has “bucked the trend” and gone in a different direction.

But it is not only in finance that the term comes into play.

Another clip from an online site indicates that the whole concept of purchasing for the holidays is undergoing a variation from the norm.   Whereas in the past people tended to flock to big box stores and small boutiques for their gifts, more and more people are looking to online purchasing as a way to buck the trend.

But at the same time there is a move on the part of some to refute the tradition of giving expensive “things” as gifts by substituting alternate gifts at the holidays.  One resource relates this story:

Scott Doughman of Palo Alto, California, picnicking with his brother-in-law Jim McKeon of Washington City in the shadow of the Sugarloaf on Saturday, said his family is bucking the holiday trends by trying to come up with gifts that don’t focus on monetary expenditures this year.

A daughter with an artistic talent is providing drawings for gifts, while a musical son has prepared a video performance, he said. The adults spent money on travel costs, but with the aim of spending time with the family.

‘Giving of your time feels more meaningful than giving of your money,’ he said.”

The idea of simplifying the gift-giving is not a new one.  For a number of years there have been movements to buck the trend inspired by materialism, to the giving of non-material gifts.   Churches throughout the country have been known to sponsor “alternative gift” fairs in which opportunities to support charities or make simple gifts for those in need are encouraged.  The most common one in my knowledge is the Heifer Project, in which families, individuals, or organizations contribute to a fund to purchase a flock of chickens, goats, or even cattle to be delivered to impoverished communities throughout the country or the world as a way of inspiring a new industry which is life-saving.

Bucking the trend is an idiom which seemingly comes to us from the action of an animal (horse) that bucks and attempts to throw its rider. It is an act of defiance, a way of blocking the intention of the rider.

Consequently, the idiom “buck the trend” is a way of defying the intention of the crowd.   To resist, or take a different route.   There are other meanings for the term buck, but this seems to be the one which fits this verbal  usage.


Image Credit: Anelina

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