For about the last year or so, friends, acquaintances, and a few strangers have started calling me a ‘hipster’, and frankly I’m not sure what that means, or why I have the instinct to feel insulted when I hear it. So, I, like most humans with an Internet connection these days, Googled the term.
I found about a thousand results, ranging from an entire Wikipedia entry on the ‘hipster subculture’ that I didn’t realize existed in such a vast extent, to a plain-jane Merriam-Webster dictionary definition that defines hipster as, “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patters (as in jazz or fashion)”
As I dug more I found numerous articles trying to define and redefine the hipster moniker, all with pretty degrading results. In one, a reporter delved into the established ‘hipster’ culture of Brooklyn (he bought a fixed gear bicycle, a plaid shirt, and visited some eclectic artisanal restaurants) and discovered while the sometimes-bizarre aspects of the hipster world were intriguing, it wasn’t the lifestyle for him. In another, a blogger ranted and raved about how ‘hipsterdom’ is the death of western civilization. Arguing that the hipster’s desire to cling onto things of the past, such as vinyl records, vintage styles, and Polaroid cameras coupled with their disconnected and lazy nature has rendered them unable to create a new meaning in today’s society. Not to mention, all the other articles and videos I found that poke fun at the perceived ‘hipster’ culture. My favorite being this video, which resonates with a barista such as myself:
Ok, back to the search. To me, Urban Dictionary’s definition for the word hipster seemed the most intriguing. The definition is about three paragraphs long, which in itself I believe is pretty hipster (unnecessary, over the top and cumbersome appear to be a trend), so to spare you the extra reading, I give you the sentence that sums up the rest. “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”
Ok, cool, a solid meaning. Let’s think about this…if I value independent thinking, have an appreciation of art, am creative, intelligent, and witty, I can possibly be classified as a hipster? Is it just me, or do those seem like characteristics everyone should strive for? You don’t hear many people say they hate art, value blandness, stupidity, and herd-mentality, do you? I know I don’t, but maybe all the people I spend time with are ‘hipsters’ too.
Sure, I do fit a lot of ‘hipster’ stereotypes: I have a pretty big record collection (that I’ve had since I was a kid, thank you very much); I attend a lot of indie-rock concerts (I was listening to Haim way before they were on SNL); I have a daily sketch journal; half of my closet is full of clothes I’ve found in thrift shops; I’m in the process of writing a novel; I am beyond passionate about progressive politics; and I really like fair trade coffee.
However, these are things I, and I’m sure the rest of you out there who are constantly hearing the word ‘hipster’, have been doing my entire life. So, when it comes down to it, if going against the grain, being proud of my out-of-the-box ideas, and doing things I love like listening to old records, appreciating all forms of art, and advocating for a well-rounded and better-informed electorate makes me a hipster, then I don’t want to be anything else.
Photo Source: Youtube.com