My Daughter Is A Hipster

My somewhat softening viewpoint on the sub-culture

Specifically a hipster of the metro-stylish, upscale bohemian variety with a dash of pseudo-counterculture. Both sisters, the older and the younger have alerted me to this fact more than two years ago. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. I must have progressed to a later grief stage late last week. Led Zepplin streaming out of Daughter number two’s iPhone into my radio while on the way to the ever more scarce lunch together. Broaching the Led Zeppelin thing with Daughter #1 evoked “yea, they’re trendy now”. Led Zeppelin is not trendy.

Of all the vile situations that could possibly befall me, why this? I abhor these yo-yo’s. This group of dabblers and dilettantes has desecrated and trivialized my stuff, stuff I hold dear, while simultaneously elevating silliness to a level I thought impossible. The only surprise this club has been able to muster has to escalate absurdity to ever increasing heights.

If I hear the term *artisanal* once more I will without question go berserk. Arrr-teeease-in-all as applied to everything from *up-cycled* beer cans as ash trays to bowl movements is the epitome of narcissism. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m all for making stuff — a big fan. The pretentiousness of that word is what galls me when applied to things that barely qualify as half-baked kindergarden crafts or “performance art”. For gods sake, there are billions of people out there actually making stuff. Stuff that takes effort, skill, dedication, engineering, experience, and time. Making things is not special, it’s normal.

The notion of a generation so bereft of it’s own culture, artifacts, and sense of self that it must recycle bits and pieces of my and my father’s is somewhere between depressing and laughable. Some sort of search for authenticity that couldn’t be more disingenuous. Recycling and usurping then redeploying in distorted, sometimes hallucinatory ways. Crappier is not better. Largely crappier doesn’t even meet the bar for kitsch.

Reflecting on this tragedy over the last week a subtly different viewpoint gained a beachhead. Maybe this hipster thing is not all bad. I’m onboard with Led Zeppelin. Who doesn’t like good materials and construction when it comes to stuff? I to contemplate the motivation behind some defining characteristics that seem to be shared between all of various hipster subgenera. The common theme I kept circling around was a rage against the virtualization of life. A longing for the tangible, solid, and simple. A realization that being human is a tactile experience.

In many ways the virtualization of our interactions, work, and production is much like the trend towards the cost effective engineering that permeates almost all of the physical things we surround ourselves with. Cost effective, disposable, and lacking of any sense of stasis. Obsession with the bottom line ignoring the overall experience. Even with respect to our cerebral selves we are less and less connected to the tangible when realizing any of it. By it’s nature our cerebral selves seems to lend itself to virtualization. A deeper look suggests traditionally any realization of that was somehow connected to the physical, tangible world. Everything from grocery lists to horrid poems to notes to doodles were connected to a physical manifestation. Elimination of that can certainly efficient. Is that always a good thing?

There’s an immense chasm between virtual interaction and exploration compared to physical exploration. On one hand we have ease, and breadth, and removal of constraints. We can look at anything, talk to anyone on any subject that crosses our mind. Theoretically speaking that seems better but our virtual experience is ever more curated. Physical exploration and interaction promotes depth by it’s nature. You’re stuck with whoever is present, limited to the geography and place you occupy at that moment. Un-curated experience for better or worse surprises with serendipity encouraging or forcing a deeper look.

If I am anywhere within a mile of the underlying motivation there is common ground between my own sensibilities and those of the hipster. I can feel my viewpoint softening. Then again it’s my daughter which serves to explain my ability to rationalize and alter my harder views consistently in the softer direction. If we can lose the silliness, pretentiousness, narcissism I might even apply for a membership card.

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