A while back, I was trying to describe my outfit for the day to my best friend, and I used the word “hipster-y” to describe it. Without missing a beat, my friend replied, “Oh that totally makes sense, you’re kind of a hipster.” And my face twisted up in the ugliest face of all faces. “I’m a hipster?” I asked her while staring at myself in the mirror. She went on to explain that someone she’d been out with the other night had described me as a hipster, and that she realized they were kind of right. So why did it leave such a bad taste in my mouth?
I’m 26 years old, so naturally the first thing I did post Hip-pocalypse, was head to the Internet. Go ahead and Google “Am I A Hipster?” and you’ll see a handful of the quizzes I immediately went to town on trying to figure out if I was a hipster or not. They all asked similar questions. What do you like to drink at the bar? What pants are you wearing right now? What are your plans for the weekend? What kind of music do you like to listen to? What kind of phone do you have? What kind of sunglasses do you wear? My answers looked like this: pitchers of PBR, skinny jeans, going to the farmer’s market, I have very eclectic taste in music, an iPhone 5, Ray-Bans. My eyes went wide as not just one or two, but six of the online quizzes I took told me that I was a hipster. SIX. Six different quizzes told me I was a hipster.
None of the quiz results were too offensive. One of them said a few things I actually appreciated. What follows are the results verbatim, with my reactions in parentheses. “You are a hipster. (Yikes.) You consider yourself a progressive, independent thinker that stands out in a crowd. (Okay, not so bad.) You enjoy being part of a counter-culture that appreciates art and music outside of the mainstream. (True. When I heard Sweater Weather on the Top 40 station, I threw my shoe at the radio and yelled something about knowing that song for two years.) You might not like being called a hipster (Also true.) because they are often associated with an elitist attitude (Yes.) and a somewhat privileged lifestyle (? I thought hipsters were poor college students.), but at your core your unique perspective makes you a hipster. (Having a unique perspective isn’t terrible.)”
Being a hipster doesn’t sound too bad when you phrase it like that, but why do I still have such a negative connotation of the word hipster in my mind? When I think of hipsters, I think of kids in chunky framed glasses that take a lot of artistic Instagram photos and carry themselves with a general sense of elitism. Often seen in skinny jeans, Chucks, and cardigans listening to music you’ve probably never heard of. They drink their coffee black and have a very distinct opinion on the effect Lena Dunham has on our generation. Rarely caught rain or shine without their Ray-Bans. Hate to be pigeonholed. Hate to be called hipsters. Yes, I realize these are fairly bold generalizations. I also realize, after writing those out that I fit into just about every single one of those categories.
I felt kind of like a kid who had just been told for the very first time that they were adopted. Who am I, and how did I get here? In my teen years, I went through several phases. The I-Love-Something-Corporate-Phase, the Front-Row-At-Warped-Tour-Phase, the I’m-Gonna-Be-On-Broadway-Phase, the Wearing-Pajamas-To-School-Phase, the Young-Professional-Phase, the Preppy-Phase. I pretty much ran the gamut. So color me shocked when I wound up a sort of jumble of all of them, and the rest of the world (and my friends, go fig) called me a hipster. Maybe this, too, was just another phase.
Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Magazine, pretty much nailed it when he said, “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.” He goes onto rebuff the myth of the hipster in today’s media, and remind us that the true hipsters are artists, entrepreneurs, oddballs that can’t be classified. And the real definition of hipster? It goes back to before Kerouac and Ginsberg put their crew together in the 50s. It dates back to the jazz age, and to the people who felt alive because of it. Those who felt the spark, who felt the jazz, who felt hip. Hip-sters.
The seventh quiz I took told me I was in the clear, and congratulated me on being normal. To which I wrinkled my nose again. Normal? Who wants to be normal? What even is normal? I’d rather be a hipster.
Just don’t say it to my face.