Thursday, August 14, 2008
When one spots a hipster on the street, his first inclination is rarely to strike up a conversation. Given hipsters’ sullen facial affect and copious amounts of street cred-earning tattoos, they are generally viewed as standoffish and even mean.
More recently, they are sometimes even referred to as “the new jocks.” This label incenses hipsters for a variety of reasons. For one, it is inaccurate; while jocks have measurable talents, hipsters do not posses talents beyond sleeping until traditional dinner hours, binge drinking and pimping their myspace profiles.
Another reason this title bothers hipsters is because they do not acknowledge themselves as oppressors. In fact, their whole image is based on being oppressed. If they were known as oppressors, they would lose their ability to receive benefits from society like being given “the benefit of doubt” when they don’t show up for work and second chances in relationships where the significant other “just doesn’t want to hurt” the hipster. This is similar to how blacks are now losing affirmative action privileges since they are viewed as a threat in workplace power hierarchies.
Also, hipsters had to endure socially-acceptable torture from jocks in their fragile years of adolescent development, AKA the “awkward phase.” In fact, jock harassment is partially responsible for the birth of the modern hipster (which would cause hipsters to hate jocks even more if they ever acknowledged that). After launching a high school and early-college rebellion (which consisted of not caring what “those assholes” thought, scamming on jocks’ girlfriends and blasting punk music in the parking lot), the jock was ousted from his spot at the top of the social ladder. (Note: Some jocks will vehemently deny this claim, using their fraternity status as proof of sustained status, but the fact that they must now spend thousands of dollars to immerse themselves in these realities of alternate cool – which are similar to WoW and Second Life – to feel superior is objective evidence against their case.)
All the while this was happening, however, the hipster went about life unaware that this transition had occurred, as is the case with most other things involving hipsters and their place in the world. That is why, as you can imagine, some hipsters are shocked and appalled to be equated with jocks. I say some because the majority of hipsters, not identifying as such, have jumped on the bandwagon with this train of thought. They can be heard wholeheartedly agreeing that hipsters are just like filthy jocks.
But there is a logical flaw in the comparison of hipsters with jocks that may alarm you because of its counterintuitivity: Hipsters are not actually mean, they are just really awkward. Their outward appearance of angst and annoyance is really just the physical manifestation of the hipster’s inner awkwardness.
For example, if a male hipster is considering talking to a female of interest, the female will likely notice the male scowling in her direction. This is because the hipster is weighing the possible outcomes of an interaction. You see, due to the years of jock-bullying during adolescence, hipsters have developed warped negative self-images and anticipate their interactions to end in some form of awkwardness. Evolutionarily, this defense mechanism has developed as an adaptive way for hipsters to save themselves from embarrassment, which would further weaken their self-images. But this plan also works against hipsters, as it thwarts social interactions and decreases their chances of mating.
To understand the hipster’s thought process in situations of potential human interaction, watch this video that was recently posted on FREEwilliamsburg.com, the hipster’s equivalent of The New York Times or Reuters.
As you can see, pervasive fears of awkwardness in the hipster’s psyche account for many additional hipster behaviors that are often misinterpreted as “snubbing” someone. These behaviors manifest in scenarios involving going to restaurants, riding elevators and all social interactions in general.
Let me just say, this video was filmed in Williamsburg for more reasons than one.