Being hipster

posted by Jeff | Monday, August 22, 2016, 6:59 PM | comments: 0

I know I love to make hipster jokes, and there is a culture of hipsterness that drives me a little nuts, but sometimes that core hipster value, liking something before it's generally accepted as cool or mainstream, isn't entirely without its value. It's not about being cool as much as it is having something a bit more to yourself.

Yes, the dude who says they liked Arcade Fire before they won a Grammy is someone you may want to punch in the face, but if you're a hipster about anything, you know that something you really loved is in some ways better before it catches on. (In terms of music, I'm not sure why you wouldn't want the band you love to be popular, but whatever.)

I feel this way about the Internets. Sure, Usenet was always a wasteland of venom and piss (and porn, lots of porn), but the Web and its early communities were pretty neat. People with common interests showed up and filled a million little niches, and there was sharing and spirited debate. I know because I started communities during that time. I was a little obnoxious at first, and I imagine a lot of people were, but we quickly learned to be cool with "our" people. Then AOL came along, and the masses started getting online. Smart phones made it even worse. Read any YouTube comments section to see the worst of humanity. Or check out Amy Schumer's Instagram for a dose of moronic bile ("Amy, you are one fat cow and I am not talking about your beauty. Why don't you die and be useful as a manure to some plants!"). People ruin everything.

When we first started considering buying a Tesla, researching it revealed this amazing community of people who were kind of car people, but mostly people obsessed like me about the future of electric vehicles. The enthusiasm was infectious, and it was remarkable how many of them were former Prius drivers. Sure, it's an attractive car, and frankly not economically ideal, but it's the future! Then, in the course of a year, the status people seemed to enter the scene. What used to be "our" future of science fiction gone real started to be co-opted by people obsessed with shiny things and appearance. Discussions went from how you teased the car into a low miles per kWh to how big your silly wheels could be (and by extension how much you spent on tires).

Travel is like this too. I remember there was a campground we frequented when I was a kid, and it was generally not busy, so we would have these wonderfully quiet weekends. It was a state park, so it wasn't really actively marketed or anything. As years went by, it got more and more popular, to the point that it was often booked solid, crowded, and loud well into the night. What a drag.

Restaurants are like this too, though to be fair, being a hipster diner likely means that your choice in establishments would wither and die without being popular, so maybe that's a bad analogy.

The point is, enjoy the things in life that are your little secret, because people may ruin them.


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