They say the things you hate the most are the things you see yourself in. Maybe the same is true for cringe. We’ve all been cringey before, most likely in our tweens or teens when the lyrics we loved were heavy-handed and the clothes we wore were straight off the Hot Topic clearance rack. Hey, I wore a flower crown to my 8th grade graduation. I thought it was giving Lana del Rey when in reality it was giving Tumblr-addicted 13-year-old. I have no regrets.
Cringe often comes from earnestness, and what’s wrong with that? What I would give to be unburdened by layers of deep irony and a veil of bitterness. Alas, it’s too late for me. But it’s not too late for certain internet users who have deep takes, and feel them deeply. And for those of us with cringe deep in our hearts, it’s sometimes nice to see it externalized.