Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sarah Says: here lies an argument both for and against being a hipster

By: Sarah Smith

Have you ever heard of Iron and Wine? Ever won anything from American Apparel? Do you shun Starbucks for a lesser known coffee shop where they play jazz music? If so, you can probably stop reading this now. You’re already a hipster. If your answers were no, but your curiosity has been piqued by these questions, read on. You may yet find a new life among these lines. Or maybe just a new group of people to consider yourself as not a member of.

Before we begin, let me quickly describe what hipster culture is. You’ve probably seen at least one hipster in your life. They wear fedoras, old man sweaters, and listen to music by artists you’ve probably never heard of. They take great pride in discovering artists, food, and style that has either never been discovered by society at large or been abandoned by society about 40 years ago (e.g. Old man sweaters). Some people find hipster culture annoying; others find it useful to follow in their footsteps in music and style choices. There are reasons to be or not to be a hipster. We’re going to explore them and you can decide for yourself if you want to grow an ironic beard and start listening to Iron and Wine.

The most appealing part of being a hipster is being different. You have different taste than the majority of people on the planet in everything. Who wants to be like other people anyway? And you find cool music and clothes before they become cool. Then you can lean over to your buddy when they do hit the mainstream, you can lean over to your buddy and say, “I liked that before it was cool.” That makes you cool for longer than everyone else, which is good. Then you drop it like a bad habit and move on to the next bit of obscure culture.

The downside to being a hipster is being lonely in your culture. As humans, we want to share our culture. Even if you’re in a little clique of hipsters, you’re all trying to outdo each other in finding new culture to follow. You constantly ask each other, “hey, have you heard of this band/movie/fashion trend?” desperately hoping the answer will be “no”. But then you turn to your non-hipster friends and say, “hey, have you heard Bon Iver’s new song?” and the answer is “no, no I haven’t.” That means you can’t share your love of Bon Iver’s music because your buddy has never heard it. Also, some people will find you annoying. They might think you’re constantly bragging about the music that you love that they know nothing about (and, who knows? Maybe you are) and people find bragging annoying.

Here’s the thing: if you chose to become a hipster, it’s not a sex change or moving to another country. Your personality might change as you interest yourself in different music and associate with new people, but you will still be you. So, on those grounds, feel free to dabble in hipsterism to see if you like being ahead of the social curve. But I’d hurry, before it becomes mainstream and you miss your chance.

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