I’m having an identity crisis. And it’s enlightening.
“Whatever could be the matter,” you ask? Thank you for worrying. I’m touched.
Well, here’s how it started: I began searching for apps that play music by largely unknown artists. I like the music at least as well as I like anything on Pandora. For the most part, these apps operate like Spotify premium: they show you an enormous list of songs, you can mark your favorite tracks, and you can play them on demand whenever you want (provided you have service). Sometimes the apps cost two bucks – which, by the way, is five times less than a monthly subscription to Spotify premium. And this way I have a much wider range of music options, generally with fewer ads, paywalls, skip limits, and other irritations.
And I have realized . . . that this technically makes me a hipster.
All right, so maybe a person who were proud of the term ‘hipster’ might not consider me yet worthy of the ranks . . . but I think the term is largely used pejoratively.
At first, the idea of being a hipster really upset me. I pictured myself in combat boots, a vintage muumuu, and bangs that just barely stretched over the tippy-top of my forehead. The thought made me ill—my forehead can’t pull off tiny bangs, see.
But frankly, I’m starting to get it. The unceasing stream of sensationalist headlines about who we’re supposed to be idolizing right now—delivered to the palms of our hands and plastered all over every surface that might reach our eyes—becomes grating, to say the least. Maybe you don’t agree. But I’ve found myself switching from my other Pandora stations to the yoga one—yes, the yoga one, that tells you how desperate I am—just to get away from it all for a second.
And the more data-optimized synth crapola comes down the flue, the more one begins to suspect that the big names in, well, everything, aren’t the big names because their stuff is actually better than something else out there. And from that thought, it’s only a small hop to wondering if one can’t find that something else. And then one finds out that the something else is plentiful and diverse.
And viola, a hipster is born. Or, rather, forged. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
In fact, I’m quite sure it’s not.
And so I’ve separated in in my mind the act of doing what hipsters are known for—looking for the unknown and underappreciated—and the act of being a hipster.
It’s not the non-mainstream-ness of hipsters that gets them typecast as annoying. I think, rather, it’s the arrogance. And I think that’s the case with most groups like this that end up getting an unflattering reputation. Self-titled entrepreneurs are guilty of this as well, and it’s also why they get on people’s nerves (slash mine, at least). It has nothing to do with wanting to start something new, which, one might think, were typically admirable.
We end up hating the stuff they do—objectively good stuff—because we can’t stand their insistence on driving home the point that they’re better than us. And I wonder whether the things they do wouldn’t spread even faster than they already do if people didn’t develop that visceral hatred for them once they start getting uppity. I also wonder, though, whether the uppityness is somehow necessary for a cultural trend like this to persist.
It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, that’s all. If your head is cocked and one of your eyebrows is raised right now, then a) take a selfie, you look really cute, and b) ignore everything I just said. It’s fine.