The Hipster Revolution

May 1, 2014
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People always say that teenagers are in a human being’s most volatile and malleable state; maybe this stigma is one of the reasons teenagers seem obsessed with standing out from a crowd. Of course, not everyone is like that…there are the opposites who want to blend in, there are people who try too hard to get into the group, there are people who supposedly don’t care, people who really don’t care, and people trying to make observations and generalizations about their age group while excusing themselves from their own judgment like me. But it’s not judgment. I don’t know where I fall. As with many things, it depends on the crowd.

You always hear about people who are trying hard to fit in and how lame it is, how desperate and insecure they are, and how everyone should love being different because after all we are different. This is great and uplifting and all but it seems that our generation has taken things too far to avoid being the insecure floaters willing to do anything for acceptance.

And it’s almost just as bad: people act in a way that is uncharacteristic of them just to appear different. Now instead of altering themselves to fit in, they alter themselves to stick out. Anything mainstream that lots of people like is strictly off-limits to the self-appointed hipsters who are adamantly opposed to all things well-liked by the general public. Basically all that these tough rebellious eccentricities do is try to show the world that they’re different. This I find sadly pathetic simply because if you truly didn’t care what other people thought of you as members of this “revolution” claim, you wouldn’t care whether you were with a majority or a minority in what you liked.
The matter of individuality and self-expression has come to a point where people have succumbed to the very thing that they hoped to avoid completely: loss of identity and pretentious lifestyles. Pride is a big part of this as well as irony and sarcasm, both of which have become part of our day-to-day language. Irony and putting oneself down to deflect any criticism is a common defense against the insults and judgment of our peers. This new-fangled method of self-insulting protection leads us not only to an image of low self-esteem and unnecessary pretentiousness (because after all, why do what you have done if you think it was laughable, pointless or stupid?) but also a lie, a façade, and a mental warning system: I don’t want people to think I actually enjoy this or that I’m truly like this.

The hipster is, ironically, the epitome of materialism and insecurity, the opposite of what they strive to be. By avoiding mainstream things, things that many people like or enjoy, by taking such pains to differentiate themselves from the population of OneDirection fans or Ugg-clad girls, the image of the rebellious outstanding individual is gone, leaving the faceless follower in plain view. After all, where would the hipsters be without the crowd of “mainstream” people who enjoy the same thing: without direction, without purpose.

There is a fine line between hipsters and victims of peer pressure; different though they are, they may act similarly for different reasons. The hipster might wear a T-shirt bearing the logo of a band they don’t like simply because they want to be different than the population of kids who do like that band. They can’t bear the thought of being one in the crowd; the thought is unfathomable that they might be one of the faceless fans, one of the millions, one who goes with the flow. The peer pressured individual might wear the T-shirt for the exact opposite, because they want to fit in the majority and be “normal”. Both are blatant shows of insecurity, shallowness and externally molded individuals.
As teenagers and growing adults, our generation is highly susceptible to the insecurity and loss of individuality that characterize growing up: we are just learning about the world and all it has to offer and it is no crime to experiment with different looks and feels, honing in on the reputation we want and how we want people to receive us. This is less common among grown adults because they have spent longer in this world than we have, they have gone through the stages of youth and adolescence, worked through the tedious years of college, nurtured a family and have given up so much to be parents, employees and members of the adult community. To me, this requires maturity, self-confidence and selflessness as well—none of which are traits of the hipster, as harsh as it may sound. The rebellious, ironic, sarcastic, stubborn hipster, the refusal to conform or simply be part of the majority screams reliance on outside sources, confusion, insecurity and desire to change so that the world will notice, is a show of directionless confusion.

This is not how things should be. This was not how we were raised or what we were taught. We need the confidence that the world will notice us, but as ourselves, with our own unique personality. The hipster movement is a harmless phase that we use to develop a sense of what we want to be and what we don’t.

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