Be kale-ful about boomeranging!
  • Be kale-ful about boomeranging!
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Dear Hipster:

Unlike many of your readers, I will not write to complain ad infinitum about hipster stuff. I actually like a lot of hipster things. Sign me up for the fancy coffee, minimalist design, and generally woke attitude towards anything and everything. As far as I am concerned, constant hipster envelope-pushing has led directly to me having better options in food, drink, clothing, nightlife, transportation, and most any other pop culture thing that comes to mind. However, I’m aware of the old maxim about “too much of a good thing” being really more of a bad thing. I know that sometimes we end up too hipster for our own good, however, I’m not sure exactly where the line demarcating “healthily and appropriately hipster” from “too damn infuriatingly hipster” lies. I’m reminded of another maxim, about how “I know it when I see it,” which I would say accurately describes my own ability to tell when something is too hipster, but that seems like a bad way to categorize anything, as it might easily lend itself to abuse. After all, who am I to say what’s too hipster for its own good? I feel as if there should be some more objective measure, so would you please be so kind as to supply one? Thank you.

— Shelby

You won’t be surprised to hear that I agree with you, inasmuch as the hipster way is, generally speaking, the right way. I find there are three basic categories of hipsterness taking a bridge too far — arranged here from least to most abstract.

First category: you have a kind of hipster analysis paralysis, which occurs when you essentially become too hipster to hipster. This can happen if, for example, a hipster becomes so woke to the problems of 21st-century American consumerism that it becomes impossible for him to participate in the world. He can’t drink the most artisanally roasted coffee because even certifiably fair-trade beans support the international coffee market, and therefore inadvertently create demand for coffee beans harvested as a result of human slavery! He wanted to give up his car for a bicycle, but he isn’t sure he can pedal enough miles to offset the carbon footprint of purchasing the bicycle in the first place! Caught in a self-perpetuating cycle of hipster guilt, this hipster has gone too far.

Second category: you have the boomerang hipster. This hipster has traveled so far along the trajectory of her hipsterhood that she returns back to her mainstream origins. She now spends her time hating on hipsters, which she more or less gets away with because she took down all her old Facebook posts where she “discovers” kale smoothies. Willfully blind to her own hipsterness, this hipster has gone too far.

Third category: the meta-hipster. This is very, very rare; and an ordinary hype-beast won’t do; but every now and again we see a hipster who has consciously embraced a hipster-for-the-sake-of-hipster ideology. This hipster has decided to simply cut out the middle-man, looking for an end-run around the hipster cycle of pop-culture innovation and imitation that drives hipster culture forward. No longer playing by the rules, this hipster has gone too far.

You will note how none of these categories reflect those irritating Buzzfeed listicles of “26 Hipsters Who Went Too Far!” or whatever, which, as is typical of those who don’t get it, invariably mistake some ironic hipster joke for sincere hipster stuff.

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