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Original innovation or moustache imitation?

Interesting contradictions, and not just for hipsters

The Hipster Paradox cannot be solved, only savored.
The Hipster Paradox cannot be solved, only savored.

Dear Hipster:

Sometimes I get confused about whether it’s more hipster to be an innovator or a clever imitator. On the one hand, it seems to me as if the most hipster thing you can do is the one thing nobody else is doing... at least not yet! Then again, maybe the most hipster thing in the world is doing something so ridiculously retro that it becomes ironically hilarious, or self-consciously cool, when you do it in a new way, like wearing a mustache that makes you look like a 1970s porn star and/or suspected child molester, but, you know, cool and of the moment. Anyways, this confuses me because these two things seem to cancel each other out. Either one innovates, or one imitates, not both. Which is it?

— Steven S.

This is probably all my fault, as I’ve identified both things as very hipster. But that’s ok. This goes to show you that, despite years and years of hipster-hating blogs; ponderous, hipster-themed, soft journalism thinkpieces; and craven appeals to the hipster $ by corporate America, nobody, not even I, really knows what is and isn’t hipster. You get these two criteria, which seem to be mutually exclusive, yet frequently coexist.

I can think of many other hipster contradictions: the health-food hipster who insists on organic, gluten-free snacks before daily yoga classes, but he also loves drugs and alcohol; or the environmental hipster who goes around unplugging other people’s power adapters at the office with her left hand while her right hand holds a disposable cup of very expensive coffee.

Contradictions aren’t only for hipsters, either. We’re a world of contradictory people. It’s a big part of what makes us so damn hard to figure out, which in turn keeps us interesting.

Dear Hipster:

You know how when you get something in your head and you can’t stop thinking about it, usually at night when you need to be sleeping? Well, that has happened to me more than a few times in the past couple of weeks, and always it is the same thing over and over again. I lie in bed at night, stare at the ceiling, and I wonder if cereal is by nature hot or cold. I’m serious (or should I say cereal?), if you go to a diner somewhere, and straight up ask the person behind the counter for a “bowl of cereal,” should you get piping hot oatmeal, or a bowl of Cheerios and some cold milk? What’s the default rule here? I need an answer!

— Dana

This is a new one on me. I’ve heard about the debate over whether the milk or the cereal needs to go in the bowl first (which implicitly assumes cold cereal), and I’ve heard of the much weirder debate about whether you should put hot or cold milk on cereal (which only matters for cold breakfast cereal, I think).

To the first point, you obviously put the cereal first, because milk can’t make that tinkling sound like the bells of a thousand tiny little angels. All milk can do is ricochet off the bottom of the empty bowl and make a mess. To the second point, I think hot milk on Lucky Charms is fake news. Don’t be fooled. As to your point, I don’t know; but did you know the first ever cold breakfast cereal was a product called “Granula” that was so insanely hard it had to be soaked overnight before it could be eaten? The next time some hipster humblebrags to you about his overnight oats, whip out a bowl of fresh Granula and clobber him with it. Won’t he be surprised.

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The Hipster Paradox cannot be solved, only savored.
The Hipster Paradox cannot be solved, only savored.

Dear Hipster:

Sometimes I get confused about whether it’s more hipster to be an innovator or a clever imitator. On the one hand, it seems to me as if the most hipster thing you can do is the one thing nobody else is doing... at least not yet! Then again, maybe the most hipster thing in the world is doing something so ridiculously retro that it becomes ironically hilarious, or self-consciously cool, when you do it in a new way, like wearing a mustache that makes you look like a 1970s porn star and/or suspected child molester, but, you know, cool and of the moment. Anyways, this confuses me because these two things seem to cancel each other out. Either one innovates, or one imitates, not both. Which is it?

— Steven S.

This is probably all my fault, as I’ve identified both things as very hipster. But that’s ok. This goes to show you that, despite years and years of hipster-hating blogs; ponderous, hipster-themed, soft journalism thinkpieces; and craven appeals to the hipster $ by corporate America, nobody, not even I, really knows what is and isn’t hipster. You get these two criteria, which seem to be mutually exclusive, yet frequently coexist.

I can think of many other hipster contradictions: the health-food hipster who insists on organic, gluten-free snacks before daily yoga classes, but he also loves drugs and alcohol; or the environmental hipster who goes around unplugging other people’s power adapters at the office with her left hand while her right hand holds a disposable cup of very expensive coffee.

Contradictions aren’t only for hipsters, either. We’re a world of contradictory people. It’s a big part of what makes us so damn hard to figure out, which in turn keeps us interesting.

Dear Hipster:

You know how when you get something in your head and you can’t stop thinking about it, usually at night when you need to be sleeping? Well, that has happened to me more than a few times in the past couple of weeks, and always it is the same thing over and over again. I lie in bed at night, stare at the ceiling, and I wonder if cereal is by nature hot or cold. I’m serious (or should I say cereal?), if you go to a diner somewhere, and straight up ask the person behind the counter for a “bowl of cereal,” should you get piping hot oatmeal, or a bowl of Cheerios and some cold milk? What’s the default rule here? I need an answer!

— Dana

This is a new one on me. I’ve heard about the debate over whether the milk or the cereal needs to go in the bowl first (which implicitly assumes cold cereal), and I’ve heard of the much weirder debate about whether you should put hot or cold milk on cereal (which only matters for cold breakfast cereal, I think).

To the first point, you obviously put the cereal first, because milk can’t make that tinkling sound like the bells of a thousand tiny little angels. All milk can do is ricochet off the bottom of the empty bowl and make a mess. To the second point, I think hot milk on Lucky Charms is fake news. Don’t be fooled. As to your point, I don’t know; but did you know the first ever cold breakfast cereal was a product called “Granula” that was so insanely hard it had to be soaked overnight before it could be eaten? The next time some hipster humblebrags to you about his overnight oats, whip out a bowl of fresh Granula and clobber him with it. Won’t he be surprised.

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