I am so sick of the word “hipster.” I’d argue that its current noun/adjective duality (“Look at that hipster!” vs. “That’s so hipster!”) only makes the word more reductive. Though we live in a world of fluid witticisms and ever-evolving methods of communication, our continued use of “hipster” falls flat.
What does the word mean to you? On a material level, retro glasses, as proposed by many Google Image search results for “hipster,” and the recent Internet meme phenomenon Hipster Disney Princesses? On a philosophical level, one who tends toward subjects deemed non-mainstream? Could acknowledging this very thought process about hipsterdom push me toward hipster status?
Nowadays it seems that we understand “hipster” through this sort of meta-commentary. Countless blogs feature photos of people who dress and carry themselves in ways we identify as “so hipster.” Alongside their photos are usually captions that speak, knowingly, to the superficiality of it all. Embedded in these Internet offerings is a sense that it’s all staged.
On Urban Dictionary, I surprisingly found the most reviewed definition of “hipster” to be the longest and most nuanced. It begins, “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20s and 30s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence and witty banter.” Interesting! These concepts seem synonymous with my lifestyle (and, in part, probably yours, too!), and yet I didn’t feel as pinned-down or inappropriately generalized as when someone might refer to me, or someone else, as a hipster.
Maybe this opens up a conversation that our blunt fixation on “hipster” prevents. It comes closer to recognizing our varied humanness, and not the ways our likes and dislikes conveniently lump us in “x” category of simplified generalization. Because we all want to engage with others as our true selves—as the non-hipster Princess Ariel says, to be “part of [this] world.” Just not by way of degraded buzzwords.