A little while ago, I was on “holiday” in Madrid with some European friends from my exchange semester of University. During our reunion, my fellow American compatriot (Kevin) and I noticed there was a fundamentally different way that they approached time with friends, compared to hangouts in America. Enter Lad Culture.
Before I go any further, here are a few attributes of chads & lads to get us more aligned on definitions:
- Chad: individualistic, self-absorbed, rooted in american exceptionalism, negative connotation
- Lad: part of a collective whole e.g. “one of the lads”,1 constructive, positive energy, vibes
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a meme is worth a million. Here you go.
Here are a few examples of wholesome “Lad Culture” that was present during the trip:
- As mentioned in work-vacation balance, I like spending significant portions of my travels (sometimes full days) just working on projects that I care about. On this trip, there was no toxic pressure to always be “hanging with the boys” — I got done what I needed to in the morning, and then spent quality time with them in the afternoons, evenings, and late nights.
- The lads went shopping and critiqued different outfits and styles, while gassing each other up in the process. This might just be Europeans being way more stylish than Americans, but is appreciated nonetheless.
- We hung out on a rooftop and discussed finances, geopolitics, and then spent the next hour taking dope photos with the view, making sure that everyone’s most flattering angles were captured.
In this framework, “The Lads” is synonymous with a Squad of low-friction & high-energy people. The article linked below explains the benefits and limitless possibilities of these squads in a brilliant way, so I’ll leave that to you to explore.
“Instead, playful exchanges produce trust, reciprocity, and VIBES—the ineffable group energy that squads value most. Accordingly, the core of squad production is the continuous production of the squad itself.”
One thing I’d like to distance my definition of lad culture from is how Wikipedia has characterized it. Overall, it has a negative connotation in the UK, which arose out of a postmodern transformation in masculinity. This transformation involved males feeling lost and drifting to things like excessive drinking, violence, and chauvinist behavior. While it is possible for even the most wholesome group of lads to devolve into some negative groupthink, I’d argue that a chad (or a group of them) is much more likely to engage in this behavior. ↩︎