Ah, the Hipster. You are so much cooler than the rest of us. How we love to hate thee.
You love old things in a way that seems to be a finger in the air to modernity, and you have an iPhone 6 1/2.
You purchase your western shirt at the thrift store for five dollars, and the plain white v-neck underneath it at Pretentious & Co. for 50.
You smoke American Spirit cigarettes because they’re all natural, destroying your lungs with no chemicals added.
You speak passionately about societal issues without lifting a finger to solve anything.
You feel superior to everyone around you, and it shows.
And, perhaps worst of all, you wear your facial hair ironically.
The Bearded Man finds this offence most egregious, because he does not want to be perceived as one of “them”. The Bearded Man should wear the beard simply because he likes it. But the Hipster, oh the Hipster! You know that moustache looks strange on you, and you know that we know it looks strange on you, which is why you call it “ironic”. But we both also know that you kind of think it actually looks cool, in a non-ironic sort of way. It hearkens back to the time of gentlemen, but now you’ve added a self-referential awareness that no gentleman would have had in the first place. It’s all so meta it’s just exhausting.
You are pretentious and self-righteous. You are the very embodiment of everything we despise. For all of these reasons and for so many more, we are allowed to hate you. And boy howdy does it feel good to hate you.
But there’s a catch, a catch that makes us hate the Hipster all the more: Hipsters hate Hipsters!
I’m definitely not the first person to write about this phenomenon, but it would seem that, hated as the Hipster is, he is everywhere and he is nowhere. I’m pretty sure I know one when I see one, but no one self-identifies as one. If no one claims to be a hipster, then what exactly is a Hipster?
A while ago I was in the midst of a conversation about said Hipsters, light-heartedly talking about what I hate about them. I was taken aback when my friend said, “But aren’t you a Hipster?”
I was a little offended, but the evidence was there: I like old-timey styles. I wear vests. I like wearing suspenders. Sometimes I wax my moustache into a handlebar. I’ve even worn a bow tie a time or two (though my beard length makes that somewhat pointless).
“What makes you not a Hipster?” my friend asked.
I’d always thought I was styling myself after a kind of bearded CS Lewis, but suddenly I was confronted with the truth: I was a Hipster! My defence was I didn’t love these things ironically, as “they” do, but I didn’t really have an answer beyond that. My only real justification was I shop at thrift stores not because it’s cool, but because I’m actually poor.
Speaking of thrift stores, it was two days later at the local Salvation Army when a man walked up to me and said in a thick, English-As-A-Second-Language accent I couldn’t quite locate, “Escuse me, I like you style. You look bery, um, cool. Like, um, don’t be offended, um, what is the word? Hipster?”
I smiled and sighed and sunk my bearded chin into my chest. There it was. Proof positive, from his strangely accented mouth to my own ears. I was a Hipster.
“Thanks,” I said, my pride getting a bit stuck in my throat as I tried to swallow it.
This revelation got me doing some self-evaluation. What is it that I hate in the Hipster? Pretentiousness? Hypocrisy? Their sense of superior coolness? Well, let’s see.
Pretentiousness. That’s the one where you want people to be more impressed with you than they should, when you try to put forth an image that gives people the impression that you are smarter, more cultured, more important or, at the very least, cooler than you really are. Yep. Gotta admit I have that one.
What about hypocrisy? Yes, pretty sure I’ve got that one well covered, too. I’m sure I have it by the very fact that I think I don’t. First rule of Hypocrite Club? Don’t admit you’re a hypocrite!
Feeling superior? Lordy, Lordy. Never do I feel so superior than when I’m standing next to one of “those” people. Stupid Hipsters.
If you can relate to any of this, then you guessed it: you might be a Hipster, too. Just name any aspect of the hated Hipster, or any group of people you find distasteful for that matter, and if you take off your sunglasses and stare deep into their reflective lenses long enough, you will have to admit to finding it in yourself. Let he who is without pretension cast the first stone.
Biker Dude who hates Hipsters: You are a Hipster.
Redneck-and-Proud Dude who hates Hipsters: You are so very a Hipster.
Guy Who Runs a Website About Facial Hair: You’re so Hipster it hurts.
It seems there has always been someone in society we love to hate. Before the Hipster, there was the Yuppie. Before the Yuppie, the Hippie. Before the Hippie, the Beatnik. And before the Beatnik… the Hipster. It all comes full circle. I suppose it doesn’t take too much digging to figure out why there’s always somebody to look down on. I don’t have to deal with my own flaws if I think that someone else’s are worse than mine. What was it That Guy said about splinters and logs?
Speaking of That Guy, he did exactly the opposite of what we are so prone to do. Rather than labelling people and finding reasons to despise them, he saw their individual humanity and loved them. More than that, he happily accepted the derogatory labels others put on him: Drunkard. Glutton. Sinner. He let himself be hated to the point of accepting death.
So, it would seem that the moment we hate someone, or feel disgusted by a certain cultural group, or merely look down on someone, that is the moment they look exactly like Jesus. Conversely, it’s only when we can admit our own hypocrisies and failings that we can be delivered from them.
Does this mean we can never have a laugh at how ridiculous the Hipster can be? Perhaps not, as long as we have the humility to admit we’re laughing at ourselves. Because, Lord, help us, we’re all Hipsters in need of a Savior.
By Aaron Alford