If you were asked to describe yourself would you ever use the word “hipster”? This term has become so embedded into our culture that simply saying it gives everyone a particular image of what a hipster represents today. For me, it’s the third level of irony. I know that may not make much sense, but follow along, if you will, and soon you’ll see where I’m coming from.
The simplest way to explain this is to say that you walk into a store and you see a t-shirt. This t-shirt may have a clever slogan on it. Something that you relate to because you’re a particular fan or it just generally makes you smile. You sir, have found an ironic t-shirt that you will wear proudly. Now, let’s say there was another person standing across the store watching you purchase that shirt. They look at you and your style and see the shirt you just purchased and think, I’m going to mock that person by getting the same shirt and wearing it to mock whoever might think this is clever or funny. This is what we like to refer to as an asshole. There are many of them, and their behavior can sometimes be mistaken for hipster, but I promise you it is different. There is a certain level of malice that comes along with being an asshole whereas the hipster has a much more subtle nature to it. To this point we have the first level of irony being you and the shirt you enjoy with the second level of irony being the asshole that chooses to mock your enjoyment of something. That brings us to the third level of irony – the hipster. Looking back to that store, the hipster was the person who sat in the corner watching how people seemed to respond to that t-shirt that you hold dear. They saw you purchase the shirt for joy, the asshole purchase it to mock you and they considered themselves above it all. The hipster cares not for being associated with anything mainstream – be it out of sheer joy or mocking those who have the joy. Instead, the hipster sits on the sidelines witnessing this interaction and decides that out of what they have been witness to what amuses them the most is that there are two people that would purchase this t-shirt for any reason. And thus, they take it upon themselves to purchase this shirt with the ironic slogan – not to mock you for enjoying it, not to make fun of the asshole who is mocking you, but for the self important reason that they are above it all and by wearing this shirt they will get to brag about how above it all they are.
I wouldn’t say that I’m a hardcore nerd deep down. Don’t get me wrong, I have my nerdy passions but there are two nerd heroes that I respect and admire. Wil Wheaton for his “don’t be a dick” policy. And Chris “the nerdist” Hardwick for the pure joy that he inspires others to take in anything they really love. I bring that up because when you think about the scenario above you find that both of those rules apply. Both the asshole and the hipster are finding a way to mock things that give people pure joy. By taking the “don’t be a dick” policy and taking the most amount of joy possible that you get from something that excites you, the assholes and hipsters both lose. So let them have their depth of irony. Let them think they’re clever or better than you somehow. But hold fast to this simple truth: they are attempting to make fun of someone who is actually enjoying their lives!!! Simply put, they can be trendy, hip, in the know on the underground movements, or lay any other claim they wish to, but you’re still winning because you’re enjoying your life while they spend theirs trying to mock you.