“…the term ‘hipster’ originated in the 1940s, and was used to describe jazz afficionados, characterized by their “dress, slang, use of cannabis and other drugs, relaxed attitude, sarcastic humor, self-imposed poverty and relaxed sexual codes.” (en.wikipedia.org)
In Defense of Hipsterism.
Update: a rebuttal.
Hipsters aren’t all good-looking stylish superior trustafarian talented lazy party-addled self-doubting snobby multi-sexual artistes. Just the ones you read about, and Alex.
The media has a thing out for hipsters. And, frankly, hipsters have been asking for it.
But we got a problem here. We got a problem of definition: everybody who seems like a hipster denies being a hipster, which koan-ally is a sure sign of being a hipster.
I’m not talking about such hipsters. I’m not talking about style. I’m talking about function. I’m not talking about surface. I’m talking about inside, out.
I’m talking about the Original Hipster (what could be more hipster)?
The media doesn’t like Today’s Hipster. Everybody loves to hate today’s hipsters: they’re too-cool-for-school, they’re jerkfaces, they’re memes, they’re insecure wannabe sheeple wearing skinny jeans bought from department stores using mommy’s Amex.
But true hipsters? They’re artists, they’re entrepreneurs. They can’t be classified, goddamnit: they’re oddballs. They care about our environment (thus the old tee shirts and tote bags and buying less and direct-trade coffee, and enjoying it for-here)…which has never been cool, except for 2004-2005. True hipsters care more about quality of life and how they spend their dollars than being rich or getting things or shopping. The whole thing about trustafarianism? It’s so much harder to be truly yourself, weird and beautiful in your own way…so if you’re born in the wilting shadow of Rich and yet manage to be yourself, I applaud your hipsterism.
So remember: the original definition of hipster predates even Jack Kerouac’s angel-headed hipsters of the late ’50s, and goes back to the early days of wild, free, crazy, fully-feeling jazz.
The original hipsters were anything but cool: they were hot, vulnerable, passionate, wild…they went all-in on life…they let it blow (as Kerouac said) all the way.
The original hipsters studied Thoreau and Zen and the Bhagavad Gita and practiced yoga atop a shed atop a mountain atop Big Sur and cried and sang and drank too much and did all manner of things, because it’s impossible to catalog the activities of a group defined only by what it searches for, not what it has found. by its warm individuality, not its cold conformity.
~ @waylonlewis (on Instagram, man)
1. You prefer to (always) bicycle or walk or bus instead of driving your own 3,000 ton black-blood fueled chariot for your 100 to 200 pound body.
2. You read labels. Your eyes dilate when you see an organic certification, and narrow when you see “all natural!”
3. You don’t count calories. You count how many days a week you work out. And by working out, you mean “climbing” or “yoga” or “mountain biking” or “road biking” or “hiking”* or “kayaking” or “snowshoeing” or “skiing” or “snowboarding” or something human-powered, generally. You don’t like plugging in your bicycle and walking in the same place in sweatified, toxic, un-cocooned air.
4. You like formal, romantic, old school dates…but you arrange them by text. And, just as often, a date goes under the guise of “hanging out” or “doing something” like bowling, music, party (VIP party is a bonus), or the aforementioned *hiking (dogs = bonus points).
5. You drink coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink more coffee. You drink tea. You drink pu-erh. You don’t drink mate anymore. You don’t drink kombucha anymore. You don’t drink bubble tea. You do drink smoothies, and instagram them.
6. You instagram everything, because it’s the quickest way to water your social media streams while preserving your life for your future children while still having a life (because instagram enables you to auto-populate your tumblr,Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter. You don’t have Pinterest).
7. You wish you could shop at Urban Outfitters but you don’t (everything’s made in China, see #2, and the place is GOP-owned by a Santorum donor)…except for that one time when…you went to walk your dog around the place because they’re dog-friendly and the men/women who work there are hot/style-inspirations and you don’t have an office, you work in a café so hashtag UO is a good place to get warm while you’re on your cracked iPhone and…you found a khaki hat that’s made in the USA. Instead, you shop vintage at Buffalo Exchange, or the true hipster valhallas: thrift shops.
8. You don’t want to get married because you love being single and you’re okay with loneliness but you want to get married when you have children.
9. You rescue dogs and cats and are vegan or vegetarian and you will not buy things you love because they’re not ethically-sourced and you definitely vote and you supported Obama way back in 2006 when no one supported Obama anymore (before he had a great enemy like Mitt and everyone came around) and you consider the farmers’ market with sun and local food and grounded farmers with beautifully worn hands like living mahoghany to be the the best place ever and you live downtown and live on your (mac, duh) laptop because you want to make millions of dollars for good and you have a big moustache or if you’re a girl long-cut straight bangs and put make up on the edges of your eyes like Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra or you wear bright, bright, bright colors or you eschew tattoos ’cause they’re so mainstream now and besides they aren’t vegan or you do other things I can’t think of because I’m not enough of a hipster, though I’m one of few hipster wannabes. Everyone else is too busy denying they’re a hipster.
10. You deny being a hipster.
Your denial of being a true hipster involves saying “even though I…” many times.
True (original) hipsterism isn’t privileged.
It’s accessible. It’s actually about living life affordably, and prioritizing the fundamental joys of life.
So if you want to find it, don’t go shopping for it. Read Dharma Bums (get it used or at your library) by a creek on a Saturday. Support Unions and the middle class. Volunteer. Work your ass off to build something awesome and useful and eco-responsible—entrepreneurs may be the last great rebels among us. Raise a child to be kind. Bike or walk to work instead of burning oil borne of suffering. Boycott plastic to-go cups. Drink for-here and slow down, and get your money’s worth by really appreciating your coffee. Support mindful, independent companies. Engage in non-aggressive activism and meditate, each morning, to tame your own speedy busy monkey mind. Don’t mistake fashion for integrity. Sound your barbaric yawp. Laugh at yourself. Don’t make perfect the enemy of the good. Communicate openly about difficult things. Take responsibility first. Garden, a little. Support local community, when possible. Xeriscape. Save the cold water you run in your shower, waiting for hot, and water your plants with it. Use less TP. Boycott palm oil, by any name. Go vegan—if only for a meal or two a week.
Look up at the sky, right now, and breathe in and out deeply.
Being alive, or awake, or hip to life—being present—is good stuff. And it can’t be bought, generally. And when it can, it’s conscious consumerism—and it changes our world for the kinder.