Probably not. I kept hearing about “hipsters“ on a recent visit to Houston. I asked my 20-something daughter and son for a definition. They came up with some things that confused me at first. Here’s what they said.
1. cares about the environment
2. is well educated
3. keeps up with politics
4. likes to wear vintage clothes from resale shops
5. rides bicycles a lot
So what’s wrong with that? Well, it seems the problem is the attitude they have. It’s all “in your face” how much more committed they are to those things than you are. They go for the effect they create on observers. I asked if they are what used to be called “posers.” Kind of. After reading more about them, I found that some people think they used to be “indie” kids who got older.
So much of this labeling is pretty funny to me, but in some areas of the US, hipsters are a common phenomenon.
You might be a hipster if:
1. you recycle
2. you wear clothing from a thrift store
3. you buy organic foods
4. you disdain commercialism and mainstream culture
5. you reject the muscular macho-man look and the sexy pop star look
6. you ride your one-speed bike a lot as transportation
7. you live in an area where people are rehabbing old houses
8. you like music that is not mainstream
9. you read classic or obscure books that are hard to understand so that if anyone asks you about them you can say, “I could try to explain it to you, but you wouldn’t understand anyway.”
10. you love Harry Potter and the Twilight books
11. you were one of the first to wear distressed jeans because you bought them that way from a thrift store
12. you like flannel shirts and buffalo check shirts
13. you avoid getting a tan
14. you avoid exercise except for bicycling
15. you reject the mainstream idea of beauty and attractiveness
16. you have a shaggy unisex hairstyle that is not a mainstream look
17. you like to be around the art and theater crowd
18. you wish you could be an artist or actor
19. you like to have long discussions about what’s wrong with mainstream culture
20. you love to point out what is ironic about anything and probably own several t-shirts with ironic sayings on them
21. you wear very skinny jeans (both men and women) and cardigan sweaters
22. you often say, “You don’t know about that? I can’t believe it.”
23. you drink only Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and you smoke
24. you wear thick plastic framed glasses, even if you don’t need glasses
25. you deny that you are a hipster
From the hipsters that were pointed out to me, I’d say the women often wear fedora hats and clothing that sets them apart from the crowd. Like flowing gauzy harem pants. Fun people watching!
It seems hipsters are a variation on many counter-culture types going back to at least the 1950s. While it may be easy to make fun of them, they often have influence on the mainstream society they are striving to avoid. Yes, some of them need to get a job. With high unemployment for the hipster age group (mainly people in their 20s), it’s easy to see how they might have become negative about society. Shopping at resale shops is certainly good for the environment and a smart way to save money. Organic foods make a lot of sense for a lot of people. Growing your own veggies is the best and cheapest way to do that. There’s nothing wrong with art and culture, but don’t be a snob about it (my opinion). Getting a good education is not a guarantee of anything, but with a careful choice of degree program it can still mean much more security for an individual and a family.
It seems many hipsters have liberal arts degrees and have not been able to get the kinds of jobs they expected with their degrees. It’s easy to see that they could become bitter about that and reject mainstream society as being partly responsible for their problems. I applaud them for learning to live within their means. Though smoking is hard on the budget as well as the body. What’s green about smoking? Possibly their attitude helps them deal with their lowered expectations.
I hope that more young people will consider carefully which kind of education will benefit them the most. Or at least prepare for some fallback careers/jobs. Learning a trade is still a good option. Researching which college majors have the best growth outlook and the best salary expectations is not shallow. It’s just smart in today’s economy. Community colleges offer great career-track certification programs as well. Many healthcare jobs come from this kind of training.
Don’t be a hipster. Don’t retreat into irony and cynicism for consolation. Do your homework. Make a real life for yourself with a decent salary. Keep looking for ways to have a healthy lifestyle, save money, and be easy on the environment. But find a career path for yourself even if it means taking further training. Don’t strike a pose. Make an action plan.