So how’s this for a new idea: repackage Head, Heart, Hands and put it on the blog once a week. I miss being able to do HHH because it gave me an opportunity to look at the world around me and attempt on the good and bad about it, and try to provide alternatives. So, here I sit at the Grandview Ave Caribou Coffee with my little Netbook.
Recently on Facebook, I had posted an article from Ad Busters magazine about Hipsters, and their place in culture by Andrew Haddow. In particular, one part struck me:
We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.
As an optimist, as a Christian who is aligned with a redemptive worldview and celebrates Christ’s work in this world, and as someone who tries to give people the benefit of the doubt, I still can’t help but agree with the sentiment.
I’ve said before that I’ve secretly wanted to be hipster. I own an American Apparel jacket and some t-shirts (I like fair labor), the last 12-pack I bought was PBR (cheap + not completely swill = bought), and I have an appreciation for indie music, because while sometimes it simply sucks, I’m glad there are still enough people who are willing to attempt creativity without completely giving in corporately.
However, the malady of the Hipster (counter?)culture is that I think it lacks a (the) capability/desire/recognition to answer the “why” question of their life any deeper that what’s immediately in front of the screen or phone or glossy ad in front of them.
Haddow speaks to this a little more earlier in the article:
Hipsterdom is the first "counterculture" to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.
I would go so far as to say this is not limited to Hipsters, but just about every classification of people that an agency is capable of producing an ad for. And my generation specifically (Millennials or whatever crap you want to call us) continues to allow itself to be vulnerable to this. This is easily found when you ask someone in their mid born between 1978-1985 why are there doing anything. Ask the guy next to you why he rides the bus. Ask the kid why he goes to the parties. Ask the senior getting her engineering degree why she’s doing that. I get shrugged shoulders more often than not, and certainly more often than I wished.
I’m sure this is not a problem endemic to just my peoples, but I am sure it is exacerbated amongst them. And it concerns me as we are in the very early stages of asserting ourselves in someway as leaders in this society that the balance of us are going to become completely irrelevant because we’re chasing the scene.
The best immunization against irrelevancy, I believe, is a deeper sense of purpose – knowing the “why”. Living in a larger why helps in maintaining integrity, and I think staves of deeper insecurities. People obviously feel this is important, or none of us would have ever heard of Rick Warren. In this leading edge group of peers I have, however, I fear our purpose is encapsulated in consumerism, which is personified at its worst in the Hipster subculture.
In other words, I’m pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg now owns the majority of my peer’s souls, who in turns sells it to whomever dictates cool. Hipsters at the very least recognize the irony in others (while perhaps not in themselves).
I don’t think most of the rest of us ever will.