Hipsters Are Everywhere, But Nobody Is a Hipster

hipsters I have a friend, Glenn, who shops in vintage stores and wears forties-style hats. He has square dark-rimmed glasses. He makes a living as a glass-blower. He mostly listens to lounge music and movie soundtracks. His primary means of transport is a skateboard. You might well think him a near-perfect example of the urban hipster. Glenn’s opinion of hipsters? “I fucking hate them!” An ex-girlfriend of mine lived in the Mission District in San Francisco. She had tattoos, a design job, and played in a kickball league. And spoke with disdain about “Mission Hipsters”. I could come up with more examples, and I’m sure you could too. We are on the edge of a mystery here: Hipsters are everywhere, as far as the eye can see. And yet nobody, anywhere, admits to being one. Apparently this isn’t just the case in San Francisco, where I’ve observed it. Adbusters had a recent cover article inveighing against the hipster phenomenon. I personally found it to be a little histrionic, especially since reading Adbusters is itself a leading indicator of hipsterism, but it was delightfully snarky. My favorite line was, “they must be buried for cool to be reborn”. What caught my eye throughout was that everybody the writer talked to talked about hipsters, but vehemently denied being one themselves. What is going on here? The bad rap on hipsters is that they’re style with no substance, listlessly appropriating an image put out by the marketplace. And yet, except in the marketplace of ideas, there doesn’t seem to be anybody who’s a member of this movement. Whether or not they argued with society about the meaning of the label, hippies and punks more often than not identified themselves as hippies and punks. It makes one wonder if perhaps a label is being applied to a bunch of people who are simply doing their own thing. And, being people who are doing their own thing, they naturally bristle and reject the label. When I sit down and think about it, I can’t find a unifying characteristic of the many different people and groups that I might label “hipster” except that they are; A) not me; and B) objects of a mixture of disdain and envy within myself. This makes me think that I’ve been sold a bill of goods, perhaps by the same prefabricating force in society that hipsters are alleged by…who?…to be coopted to.What do you think? Are hipsters real or imagined? Idiosyncratic expressionists or the apathetic end of civilization? Do you know anyone who is one? Are you? Is anyone? And if not, might we all just be what we are, and deserve to encounter each other as such?

About the Author

Chris West is an independent lifestyle advocate!