Not to harp on this subject any longer, but one of the funnier comments left on the Washington Post article was one referring to me, inexplicably, as a “Pretentious Hipster Doofus.” Or something like that, I’m not really gonna research it.
This is quite funny to me and, I imagine, to most people who have known me personally because while I may have pretensions to many things, hipsterdom is hardly one of them. I’m decidedly unhip, but I suppose that’s beside the point. As far as I can tell, one of the hallmarks of being a Hipster is unabashedly hating on things, which just really isn’t my bag. I’d much rather yammer on about my favorite things, and I think most of my closest comrades can attest to the way I just… won’t… shut… up when it comes to such topics.
But let’s put that aside.
Sure, I’m a hipster. I’m a hipster if someone calls me a hipster. We are all hipsters. There is no escaping it, because Hipster™ is simultaneously indefinable while fitting any definition you wish to give. In that sense, a hipster is very much like Spinoza’s God.
The Indefinable God
Now, Spinoza was actually stripping the term ‘god’ of its mysticism and anthropomorphism when he equated it to nature. He was essentially crafting the ultimate Atheistic definition for god because he was ridding it of its deification. But, in modern discussions, theists have ironically taken up this philosophical idea as proof that atheists must be wrong. God exists because God is everything.
This is the ultimate falling back stance of a religious theist. All religions that propose a god (or gods) are providing a definition of god(s). Using Christianity as an example, we know the Christian God has specific characteristics and a personality. The individuals within the religion may quibble over the finer details (and they do, oh yes they do), but generally there is agreement on major traits: God is Love, God is Eternal, God is Omnipotent/present/scient/bus.
The problem of trying to define God is that the more specific you get, the less feasible your version of God becomes. If you say God can heal the sick, then you have a problem when you look around and see sick people dying all the time. You have a couple tacks you can take here. You can get even more specific and say things like, “Well, God only heals the sick who are faithful,” but it doesn’t take long to find counterexamples to this proposition. Specificity is God’s kryptonite, so the safer route is getting vaguer: “God works in mysterious ways.” You’ve essentially admitted that you don’t know God’s will, which undermines the whole point of religion, but at least it allows you to hold onto the idea of God.
Each attempt to define God faces the same problems. The believer can get more specific and risk being proven wrong or get less specific and lose ever more of their grasp on God’s dimensions. From a faith point of view, this would seem to be a logistical nightmare (though apparently not), but from a tactical sense, this makes arguing against the concept of God as slippery as a greased pig on a Slip-N-Slide in a rainstorm.
I’d imagine there is a positive correlation between the intelligence of a believer and their willingness to accept a vaguer definition of god. Those who have no use for logic and reason tend to possess the most specific definitions of God and HIS beliefs (which, luckily, happen to coincide with their own).
Which brings me back to Hipsters. I guess.
The Indefinable Hipster
I challenge someone to give me a consistent definition of Hipster that A) doesn’t essentially define anyone and everyone (other than you) and B) a majority of people could agree on.
Like ‘God’, I think everyone has a mental image that pops into their head when someone says ‘Hipster.’ But is it the same?
We can talk about Hipster Fashion: Skinny jeans, v-neck t-shirts, old looking tennis shoes. And, undoubtedly, that fits someone’s image of a hipster. But somebody who likes to wear skinny jeans, v-neck t-shirts and old tennis shoes is going to have their own definition of hipster, and it won’t be that. Or maybe it will be, but it’ll be a specific brand of shoe or shirt or hat or whatever.
Bsides, fashion is, by definition, always changing, so Hipster Fashion couldn’t possibly be a stagnant look.
So, maybe you can’t identify bipsters by their clothes. Maybe their haircuts? Fauxhawks, right? Or ironic mullets? Or unironic mullets?
Their music? Well, Radiohead makes pretentious arty music, so their fans have to be hipsters, right? Except, Radiohead is one of the biggest acts in the world, which is definitely un-Hipster. They’re into obscure bands that are only cool as long as their shows are in basements and their CDs are made for $100. But, all bands start out that way. Unless we’re only allowed to like N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, we all like bands who came up from nothing. We’re all hipsters, gasp!
No, no, that can’t be right.
Hipsters only like bands up until they break through to a larger audience, and then they hate them. That’s better. But, wait, what kind of music? Green Day was popular as an underground punk act until they signed to a major label in the 90s, and then a lot of their early fans cried “Sell outs!” and stopped listening. So those fans are hipsters, right? Same with the early fans of Kiss, Death Cab for Cutie, No Doubt and Metallica, right? They’re either hipsters or true fans. I’m not sure which.
Alright, forget bands.
One of the more consistent ‘traits’ of Hipsterdom is the, “My group is better than your group” mentality. I think most people would characterize hipsters as snobs. Certainly, if there could be said to be one defining characteristic of the type, it’s their preference for exclusion.
But, isn’t the very act of calling someone a Hipster an attempt to exclude them? When we sit around labeling every fan of a band we dislike a ‘hipster,’ all we’re doing is relegating them to a specific sphere of society, a sphere that we do not include ourselves in. The Hipster is a loathsome creature in our society because of their obsession with a façade and exclusivity, yet being a hipster hound dog requires just as unhealthy an obsession with the same superficial details.
And really, who cares? If some guy likes skinny jeans and you don’t, how is that at all relevant to your life? If you don’t like a band, why expend so much energy hating on their fans? It’s all pretty meaningless.
The commentator who called me a hipster showed his cards when later in the comment he theorized that I was only doing this whole project so that women would want to sleep with me.
First off, I wish.
Secondly, that is the secret jealousy underpinning so much Hipster Hate. Guys see other guys hooking up with chicks that they wish they could have sex with, so they hate on them and label their outward appearances as hipster affectations. It might not always be sexual jealousy, but there is some sort of longing beneath that scorn. As a rule, people don’t waste time trying to tear someone else down unless there are serious self-esteem issues going on inside.
It’s Bullying 101. People might berate me for making the trite and obvious point, but while we adults think we’re so grown-up and mature, we’re pretty much all still driven by the same petty motivations that we’ve had since hair started growing in odd places.
It’s getting kind of old.
But what do I know? I’m just a hipster.
At least we can all agree on one thing: God and Hipsters friggin’ love PBR.
5 thoughts on “What God and Hipsters Have In Common”
I guess you get a “No” vote in the hipster column from me because I can’t exclude someone who writes down the thoughts I’ve had and have also written myself about this subject. Everything we say about someone else is a reflection of our own self conscious feelings. Also, I love PBR too. Great post.
So now I’m not a hipster? Man, I’m so confused.
I checked three dictionaries on-line and even the origins of the word Hipster seem to be different in them all. One says it comes from the 40’s one says the 50’s one says the 60’s. One definition says that a hipster keeps up with the latest trends and another says a hipster is unconventional. One definition links it to hippy, while two other relate it to Jazz fans from the 50’s-60’s. I think that’s probably where it came from, some jazzy hipsters. perhaps the term hipster evolved along with the music?
Perhaps hipster has become a generalized term for someone that cannot quite be categorized, and maybe it just means you are a unique little snowflake (like everyone else) I mean, when I met you, you looked a little 90’s grunge, but your personality was not 90’s grunge – it was a mix of a little 80’s rockstar, philosopher, activist, debater, asshole, poet, rebel, traveler, preppy, etc. – and that’s just the superficies – I never could really figure you out, but I have always been a bit fascinated – and I’m no hippy-lover.
Tell me you didn’t hear the voice of the great sage Marshall Mathers as you were writing this, though? “I am whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?”
Keep on doing what you do if it’s working for you.
Actually, you’ve stumbled onto another wrinkle in this whole topic, which is the historical meaning of the word “hipster”. The way the term is (derogatorily) used these days has only a passing resemblance to what the word meant in prior decades. Just another reason that the term remains pretty much impossible to define (and meaningless).
If I ever looked 90s grunge, it was because I was too broke to afford newer clothes. In fact, when we met, I was probably still wearing the clothes that were given to me in college when all of my clothes were stolen.
I like to think that that I don’t fit any particular scene so that I can fit into any scene when the time needs.
Yes, I agree. That’s what happens with words, they get altered from their original meanings all all hell breaks loose in some cases.
So, this is what you looked like the day I met you:
I don’t think it was the clothes – it might have been the hair and beard.
Jerry Cantrell much?
Maybe not . . .
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