I can definitely understand how people can become weary of trends, with their worn-out jokes and endless repetitiveness. But I can’t help it: I’m still a fan of hipsterdom.
Perhaps it’s because the strongest and longest-running social/fashion trend in my teenage years was… Emo.
Look, I can appreciate Emo for embracing ’emotions’ and telling boys (and girls) that it was okay to cry in public and let their copious mascara run. It was okay to have feelings – yep, cool so far. But in the end the whole trend seemed to boil down to indulgent, overemotional egotism. And we all suffer through enough of that in our teenage years without music producers deciding to glorify it as ‘trendy’. It also promoted a culture of self-harm far more than was healthy, so in my view it was morally questionable as well as just a little aesthetically distasteful. I think it started out as a generally decent attempt to de-stigmatise the issue of self-harm, but then unfortunately spiralled into this idea that you weren’t cool unless you had scars and suffered from a mental illness.
(Disclaimer: not trying to unfairly pick on Emo, here. I listened to Evanescence in my time along with the best of ’em.)
Then along came the Hipster.
Suddenly it was the ‘in’ thing to be nerdy. To like books, and study, and learning. (It was not unlike my first year of uni when I discovered that ‘boho-chic’ was A Thing, and I was accidentally on trend for about two years.) It was cool to be earnest and geeky and have intense conversations in student cafes and to care way, way, way too much about coffee.
This is a trend that I can really get into.
You could say that the annoying thing about hipsterism is the pretense of intelligence; i.e, that it’s more important to look like a kind of serious, bookish person than it is to actually be someone who reads and studies a lot. But this accusation can be levelled at any social trend; in Emo times, it was probably more important to dress all in black and have the eye makeup than it was to cry yourself to sleep every night. This is where social trends blur into fashion trends, as fashion becomes an easily recognised cultural marker for a group of people. When it comes to trends, pretty much everyone is a poser by definition. And I feel like many hipsters gleefully embrace this poserdom – on some level there is an acknowledgement that this has all been done before.
There’s no direct line of causation, but perhaps we can theorise that the ironic self-deprecation of hipsterism is a reaction to the indulgence of Emo. There’s plenty of self-absorption within hipsterism too, of course, but at least it usually comes with a certain sense of awareness and a wry #FirstWorldProblems hashtag.
In conclusion: Maybe trends are just silly stereotypes that people conform to for the ‘cool’ factor. But if we have to have them, then I’m glad it’s cool to be educated and somewhat dorky.
Incidentally, this may be one of the most hipster-ish posts I have ever made.