What is a hipster?

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Hipster Ariel Forever  

One of the most commonly used and (to me) commonly confused words these days is “hipster.” What does it even mean? Because if I try to deduce a definition based on how it is used … it means lots of things:

  • This is ironic … but don’t ask me to define ironic
  • I can’t tell if this is cool or not cool
  • I can’t tell if this is serious or if it’s satire
  • This is so trendy it’s not trendy
  • This is so not trendy it’s trendy
  • This is actually trendy but I liked it before it was cool
  • This is actually trendy and therefore it’s not cool
  • This is something “kids” like, “kids” being anyone younger than me
  • My generation doesn’t get this
  • My generation didn’t do this
  • My generation didn’t have this
  • This does not appeal to me
  • I don’t understand it
  • This person thinks they are better than me

So, yeah, everything and everyone is a hipster, OK? Now, can we stop using that word? Can we just like what we like and do what we enjoy and live where we want to live without worrying that we’re doing something for the wrong reasons or that we’re unoriginal or too original or that no one will appreciate it or that too many people will appreciate it or that we’ll miss the boat and by that I mean getting on the boat at the same time that everyone else does? Because that sounds like a really fun party boat.

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4 Comments on “What is a hipster?”

  1. I think being a hipster is far more about attitude than action. I have several friends who, by multiple visible standards, should qualify as “hipsters” (they wear flannel. They live in Pilsen or Bucktown. They are obsessed with independent fill-in-the-blank [coffee shops, music, whatever.]. They brew their own beer. They have thick framed glasses. Etc., etc., etc.), but I would NEVER label any of them as hipsters, because they’re all very down to earth people. In my mind, a hipster does whatever they do–whether it’s dressing a certain way or living in a certain neighborhood or drinking/eating certain things or whatnot–from a place of pretension. They do it as a way of saying, “I think I’m more original than you, more creative than you, more counterculture than you, and therefore better than you, and I’m going to shove it in your face while also judging you for choosing to not do what I do.” In general, I don’t think hipster is often used as a complimentary term, at least when someone uses it to describe someone else, and I think that’s a result of an off-putting vibe hipsters give off far more than what they actually do (kind of like basic — I don’t know of anyone who’s used basic as a compliment, but I also think it has FAR less to do with the unoriginality/Lululemon/pumpkin spice latte-ness of a basic and FAR more to do with the pretentious and uppity attitude that comes along with that. Then again, I can’t stand pretentious people, so that probably has a lot to do with my opinion on all of this!).

    1. I totally agree that it is more attitude than action, but it bothers me when it is thrown out as an insult to people/brands/things that in my view are authentic. Maybe it hits close to home because I do things that some might label as hipster, and I feel like the lines become blurred when we hear that word thrown around so much – as an insult – that I don’t even know what it means anymore. It almost becomes a scapegoat … welll I’M the authetnic one, you’re just a hipster! I dunno. Sometimes it really rubs me the wrong way. Or maybe I’ve been spending too much time in Logan Square.

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