Not a thing of the past!
I’m a hugger, not a hand shaker or a cheek-kisser. But I worry — is hugging dead forever, because everyone will be scared to touch each other for the foreseeable future? I actually hesitated to write, because my question is coronavirus-adjacent, and everyone is sick of hearing about coronavirus stuff by now; but then I realized there isn’t much else to talk about. I’ve been watching the dust bunnies procreate like dust bunnies do (i.e. “rapidly”) in my living room for a month, and I’m running out of stuff to think about.
Man, maybe we had it all wrong. Maybe this whole thing was a high-level conspiracy by the anti-hug people to once-and-for-all stamp out the world’s greatest gesture of affection. Those sneaky bastards.
But I doubt it will work. At the end of the day, hipsters gotta hug. For every person saying “things will never be the same again,” millennia of human history suggest we fight the same battles (and enjoy the same glorious victories) over and over and over again, and each time there’s somebody there to say “things will never be the same.” If history is any guide, the breathtaking shortness of humanity’s collective memory assures that today’s tragedy is tomorrow’s meme, and by the end of the year you’ll be dressing up as it for Halloween.
I’ve been wracking my brain over where hipsters might fall in the Reopen California vs. Double Down on the Lockdown debate. If you’ve taught me anything, it’s that hipsters dislike mainstream trends and conventions. Closures, masks, and social distancing went from zero to mainstream in a day. On the other hand, the Reopen crowd seems a very flag-wavey bunch, and that doesn’t strike me as a hipster scene. On a hypothetical third hand, lots of hipsters work as baristas, brewers, barkeeps, and the like. They can’t be loving this shutdown, can they? Or, am I making the mistake of looking for groupthink in a group that rejects groupthink on principle?
— F. Cotton, Bywater
Many hipsters are on the Double Down train, but not for the reason you might imagine. You see, for a whole generation of younger hipsters, this is the first time they have had to face anything like real hardship. Sixties hipsters had Vietnam. Eighties hipsters had AIDS and general economic hardship. Older Millennials had 9/11. The twenty-something hipster set currently sitting at home smoking weed and wondering when the bars will open back up? Frankly, they have had it pretty cushy till now, and they know it, too.
Hard times define us. The Greatest Generation didn’t spawn the hipster Beats because people tired of the Lindy Hop. Hard-nosed, disenchanted hipster irony forged itself somewhere between the hammer of slugging it out through the Great Depression and the anvil of watching war tear the world asunder and shake society to its foundations.
The young hipsters of today may not cop to it, but they’re secretly stoked to be living through their very own hardship. The topsy-turvy chaos of life under Shelter in Place, along with all the complications that may yet follow, will disabuse a whole generation of the naiveté born of nearly a decade of economic prosperity and generalized easy living. If it goes on a little longer, it gets a little realer, and the more legit will be the social and emotional scars that will let a generation of hipsters know they really lived.