There’s a new, dumb trend: the fidget spinner. It’s a toy like a top, but spun in the hand rather than on a surface. The user holds a pad at the center, and flicks one of three rounded blades. The spinner rotates around a bearing at the center. The light weight of the device and the low friction of the bearing allows it to spin for a long time.
What is it for? The fidget spinner has been framed as just a toy—but also as a stress-relief tool, a classroom menace, a treatment for ADHD, and a possible salve to smartphone addiction, among other things.
Fidget spinners might or might not be any of those things, but at their core they are something more, and something stranger: the perfect material metaphor for everyday life in early 2017, for good and for ill.