Dear Hipster: Is “craft” beer more authentic than “artisan” bread? Am I better off with hand- or homemade? Is small batch better or worse than limited edition? I am lost in a sea of hipster adjectives. — Leslie
I see what you did there! You tried to make fun. But — surprise surprise — bamboozled again by the hipster, you hit upon one tremendously salient point.
The buzzwords that spring up to define various popular phenomena, and which later enter common parlance on permanent loan from the hipster lexicon, demonstrate one of the most universally powerful human tendencies. I mean, of course, the irresistible urge to name that which was formerly nameless, thus bestowing meaning upon the meaningless. By attaching a simple adjective, we crystallize a complex idea into a single term. That’s a powerful thing. Despite the fact that nobody can agree on how small a batch has to be before something is “small batch,” we all understand that the phrase means something specific and implies certain super-value judgments.
Cynics will say that this creates a system ripe for abuse, whereby any old hipster can string a grip of adjectives out in front of his otherwise mediocre product. The less universally powerful human tendency to jump on a bandwagon being what it is, this probably happens. In fact, I’m sure it happens all the time. And yet, hipster sophisticates that we are, you and I can spot the average bandwagon-jumper a mile away.