I have been thinking and talking to my husband a lot about the hipster culture and its influence on our generation as a whole. This isn’t the first time someone wrote about the influence and evolution of hipsters, but I think I can shed some light from a new perspective.
When I first learned what a “hipster” was, I was told that they are people who wear thick rimmed glasses, are socially awkward, and they only wear clothes from thrift stores. Most importantly, hipsters were defined by their desire to be cool, while appearing that they could care less about being cool. I also learned that nobody likes them.
This is an excerpt from today’s explanation of a hipster: “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter… It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainstream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty…Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals.”—Urban Dictionary
As the years have gone by since my exposure to the hipster culture, a lot has changed. There is no longer a specific group of people who fit these characteristics of an iconic hipster. It appears that the majority of our generation has taken something from this culture and made it their own. If anything, I think the hipster culture has given freedom to our generation to be unique individuals who are grasping on to important values that have been lost in the younger generations for years.
An example of these values can be seen in the abundant list articles that show up on my Facebook feed. They are often titled something along the lines of “20 Things You Should Stop Doing in your Twenties“. I certainly don’t agree with a lot of these suggestions or think that they all stem from good values, but what these websites contain (along with many others like Upworthy) are things that are underlined by a deeper seeded desire to change the way our culture has been functioning, especially pertaining to the youth. The constant fear that our society will only get worse is certainly substantiated, but I have hope that we are headed in a different direction.
Side Note: Our society has been and always will be bad because of who we are, but have always been movements toward and away from true progress throughout man’s existence. We always seem to be teetering back and forth. After the serious existential crisis this country has gone through, I think we have come to the conclusion that there is something more to hope for.
This isn’t all that surprising if you consider the leaders and role models that my generation has been looking up to all their lives. We live in a time where nothing and no one is taken seriously it seems. That’s why shows like “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” are so popular, because there is this sense of shame for aspects of our country which no one is addressing. These late-night talk shows may be able to make fun of it, but they don’t cause positive transformation. The influence of good role models is what will cause transformation to a generation.
What cool means today is finding out who you are and truly embracing it—not for others, but for yourself. It means being intelligent, willing to think and have an open mind, appreciative of beauty and tolerant of new and unique things. It means having values and living by them—putting them above other people’s perception of what is cool and acceptable in our society. Anyone trying to gain the approval and acceptance of others will never be cool, but embracing your individuality despite what is happening in the society is something that ought to be practiced.
After looking at what others have to say about my generation, I am among few who hold a positive perspective. Of course, this is all speculation and observation, you don’t have to agree with me, but I would greatly appreciate your consideration of my thoughts and to hear yours as well.