Friday, April 13, 2012

A Couple of So-Called “Hipsters” with a “Hipster Mentality” Ruined the Good Name of Hipster for all the Real Hipsters Who Aren’t Even Hipsters as You’d Probably Define It

 ***Note: I’m sorry if I offend anyone by bringing up labels and talking in a very generalized way about these groups. I know these stereotypes do not apply to everyone within a certain “group,” and feel free to refute me on anything. I’m just speaking from my personal standpoint and what I’ve noticed around where I live, but if you experience it all differently, I’d love to hear about it! (Also this is going to be a long one… Brace yourselves)

It seems as though these days being different and quirky has become somewhat of an enviable identity. Everyone wants to be quirky and cute, and this persona has become commoditized through various characters in popular media and programming (Oh, hello, Zooey Deschanel). But with this love of being different and alternative also comes the disdain for what many refer to as “hipsters”, which are in themselves, a hard thing to define:

What in the world is a hipster? It’s like this word that has become synonymous with a specific image and mindset. Being quirky and different and liking things before they are mainstream, etc etc etc. But is that really what it is, or is this just some popular definition of the term? Do the people that fall into this category define themselves as such, or is it for the outsiders?

Let’s be frank here: I don’t think a true “hipster” would refer to themselves by such a word, or any word at all for that matter. Why? Because I like to see this distinction of person as being a true individualist: alternative to the generic. But you know what? They don’t go out of their way to be unique for the sake of being unique, they just are who hey are. They like obscure things because someone told them about it and they genuinely think it’s good (we’ve all found hidden gems that way, no?). They wear strange clothes because they genuinely like the way they look on them, and if something happens to then become a new “style” because of a more frequent wearing of it by the public, then so be it. They don’t care, they just are who they are and don’t need to fit into some specific “type” as described by a common label.

You see how I like to think of these alternative people? And yet, we once again come to the label of “hipster” being thrown around for these people. However, I feel as though recently this term has become an unfavorable and negative one, describing a much different kind of person from that which I described above. I like to refer to this less as a style or group, and more as a mentality; the “Hipster Mentality” if you will.

What do I mean by that? You know, that stereotype of these people all thinking and behaving in the same way. That is, they dress in strange clothes for the purpose of being different, and making a new “style”, which they then abandon once it comes into common popular style. They listen to obscure music for the sake of being able to tell you they know more about music than you do, and dislike anything too “mainstream” because apparently once something is widely known to the public, it isn’t cool anymore. They jump at the chance to tell you that they were listening to something or read it before it became popular, because they are just so hip and cool and on the edge of life and culture.
Yes, we are talking about that stereotype.
And while some people do in fact perpetrate it, not everyone whom you might consider to be a hipster do. Those that do perpetrate it, however? Well they are just annoying, and thus ruin the image of alternativeness/hipster-dom for all the “true” hipsters who really don’t care about all that stuff to begin with. I mean, being unique is also about just being cool with who you are and just taking life as it comes, right? I personally like to think so.

The word “hipster” has almost become label that people consciously try to acquire for themselves, thus adopting the “hipster mentality” these days. At least, that’s what I’ve observed, as well as seen being mocked in countless places online through series of memes and the like (a couple of which can be seen here, just for fun of course).

Let me explain why this “hipster mentality” --as I call it-- is really irritating (and I’m sorry if I offend anyone with this, but it’s just what I’ve come to feel):
Nobody really cares about your aggressive and unfounded opinions. Well okay, so you may have a friend that comes to you for advice or suggestions on something you know about because they know that you are really into different clothes or music or books and things. But when it comes down to it, does it really make a difference that you were maybe listening to something a bit before someone else or watching a show before they knew about it? Not really. And frankly, you’d think that people would be happy once a relatively unknown band that they like becomes more popular: you now have more fans to talk with about them and enjoy the music with! Isn’t that good? 
And let me tell you, I have also found myself listening to certain music, which then a year later happens to come onto the radio and is then super popular too. The difference in my mentality, however, is that I don’t feel the incessant need to inform people that I knew of the band before they did. “Oh you like that Florence and the Machine song? So do I! I heard it in an episode of Skins once, it’s really good, right?” See? That’s about the extent of it. And what would I have gotten out of it if I had said, “Psht, I’ve been listening to that song for like two years now”? Nothing really. Except for maybe a couple of massive eye-rolls. Or as I typically respond to that, “Oh that’s nice. Now more people are listening to it too.”

Also, a lot of it is just that people aren’t exposed to certain things until they hit the mainstream. Some people lack the access or just don’t know where to look. Yet to those with the “hipster mentality”, if you weren’t a fan from the beginning, you can never be a true fan. I would like to disagree with this. For example, one of my favorite movies is Singin’ in the Rain. But did I see it when it was first released in 1952? No, and I couldn’t possibly have, because neither myself nor my parents were born yet. Are you hipsters trying to tell me that I can’t be a real fan of this film since other people liked it before I did? Well that just seems unfair to me-- and all those others who were unable to like it with the original crowd.

Finally, how about we address this “mainstream” nonsense. Okay, so a lot of stuff that is in popular/mainstream media is sub-par quality, but that doesn’t mean that all of it is. There are some great books (Harry Potter!) and films (The Social Network!) and music (The Rolling Stones!) out there that everyone has heard of and most people love too. Yet you get this “hipster mentality” just throwing it to the wayside and not giving it a chance because it isn’t obscure enough. Okay, hipsters, then why do you often know all the words to Top 40 songs if you “don’t listen to the radio, because it’s too mainstream”? And how can you make those assumptions that nobody but your inner-circle of hipster friends has heard of these “obscure” things that you like? Because really, people can surprise you with what they have heard of, and possibly like. 
(Yeah, I have a couple Grizzly Bear songs in my library. Why are you looking at me like I discovered some secret treasure only you and your people can know about?)

I just don’t like that a lot of these “hipster opinions” aren’t founded in anything real, just in these silly unspoken rules of what can and cannot be liked based on what most other people like. Everyone has different tastes, obviously, and you should make yours based on what you truly like and find interesting or catchy, not what you think you are supposed to like based on some image and mentality.

And I know that not everyone is like this, but those certain people that are (like I’ve said a few times, now) taint this into a negative stereotype of people. It’s those people that snort at you when you sing a Michael Jackson song at them, and claim they don’t like it because he is too mainstream. I’m not exaggerating here: this is literally what someone said to me one time when I sang a little “Human Nature” at her. And I told her, “Well I know his music isn’t for everyone, but you can’t deny that he was a fantastic performer,” to which she rolled her eyes very rudely. I was trying to meet her in the middle ground and accept that not everybody likes him, she didn’t need to scoff at the fact that I like different things than her.

Because in the end, it’s not a matter of liking everything that other people like: it’s about having your own taste in things which isn’t governed by what you think you should like based on being stubbornly contrarian. And most importantly, it’s about not scorning other people for the things that they do like, especially if you have no basis for truly disliking it, since this is just being rude and crassly opinionated.

And with that, I think I will call this a wrap. Be free to be alternative and hipster-y, and remember that not everyone holds these stiff and nonsensical viewpoints. Those that do, however? Well maybe we should just surround ourselves with more positive and accepting people.
Also, to you who do have this hipster mentality: Do you really think this makes you seem cool and interesting to people? Because although many "don't care what people think", you might consider that it could be detrimental to your image should you come off as stubborn and rude all the time. Just something to think about.

Have you every experienced a person with stubborn viewpoints about fashion, culture, or hipster-dom before? 
Do you think real hipsters would even call themselves that, or is it a label that people consciously try to acquire for themselves, thus adopting the “hipster mentality”? (Or maybe I’m totally off-base on this, once again…)
P.S: Quirky may be the new hot, but brainy is definitely the new sexy. 
Right ladies? No? Okay, just me then.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Facebook Relationship Status Updates are a Free-For-All Invitation for People to Poke Their Noses Into Your Life

***Note: This isn't really important. In fact it's a little bit like a rant. A rant about the silly things that we do online.

Facebook is one of those things that can be very useful in some respects, but for every positive feature there are about five negative ones. And one of the most annoying of all these is the fact that the site is basically there for people to display to others what is going on in their lives. Well, okay so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, until you have young people and teenagers on there that insist on letting everyone know absolutely everything, and making everything public as though everyone cares about every aspect of their lives (see how insane that sentence ended up being? Well that’s how I feel about it). And truly, nobody seems to care about a lot of this stuff that is posted incessantly by others anyways.

That is, until it is a change in relationship status; this is the moment where the tiny invitation into your life that is Facebook becomes wrenched wide open and everyone wants to comment and get the scoop on it, even though as people we should know that relationships are private entities between two people. At least they should be.

I’m sure you know how it goes? You’re just scrolling through your newsfeed when “Bam!” Someone is in a new relationship. And what do you see? Comments, comments, comments, many of which are depicting squeals of delight and excitement. And you wonder, “Do these people actually care about this person? Do they even know who they are now dating? Do they comment on anything on any other kind of post on this person’s page?” Typically what I do is think to myself, “Oh that’s interesting” and just move right along. I mean, sure, if it’s a close friend I might “like” it, but I will probably talk to them about it in private, not on some webpage where anyone and everyone can read what I’m saying about this person or relationship. And what about the person who you are now dating? What if they see all these people and think, “Well I’ve never met any of them, who are they?” I don’t know, it just seems strange to me.

And on the other side of that coin, there are those times when someone’s relationship status changes to “single” or they are “no longer in a relationship”. And what do you see? Comments, comments, comments, asking, “Are you okay hon?” or “Text me if you need to talk”. And let me tell you, there is nothing more irritating than that patronizing “hon” thrown in there, especially from someone who you rarely talk to. And obviously if that person needs to talk someone, they know who to text, aka those people they are actually close with and can maybe shed some insightful light on the situation. Why would I text someone or talk to them about my breakup when they aren’t even an important part of my life? It’s like they just want to know the details because they are being nosy, don’t you think?

The most telling thing about this kind of situation are those funny times when you are just messing around with your account settings and it accidentally comes up on your newsfeed that you are “now single”, even though you weren’t in a relationship to begin with (seriously though, this has happened to friends of mine on more than one occasion). And yet, people still comment, as though you weren’t in fact single before that moment. And you think to yourself, “If you don’t know me well enough to know that I wasn’t actually dating someone, then you definitely don’t deserve to ask me about all the details of the nonexistent breakup.” A lot of the time these people choose not to put up their relationship statuses because they don’t think it’s anyone’s business. Yet nothing more than a simple change in settings can set off a whole group of people who think that it really should be their business. (Shame on you, Facebook gossip lovers; I may love my gossip, but I do it the old-fashioned, non-technological way.)

The thing about these situations, however, is that most of the time, the people sticking their noses in to comment are people that you may be acquainted with --and thereby don’t remove as a "friend"--, but besides that, your interactions with one another are almost non-existent. Yet when something juicy happens in regards to a new man or woman in your life --or a loss of one--, they are all over that, wanting to know who he is, or if you need a shoulder to cry on. It’s just a really funny thing I think. You want to say to them, “Why do you care?” But then again, why post about your relationship if you don’t want people to care? 
Maybe it’s all just another lesson on thinking hard about what you want to put online about yourself, especially if you are concerned with how others might react, whether positive or negative.

I think maybe a lot of this is in my mind, yet a lot of the time this is all proven to be typical behavior of Facebook users. At least, in regards to my own internet “friends” it is. Seriously, guys, can you stop perpetuating stereotypes for just one day of your lives?

But what do you think about all of this? 
Have you also noticed people acting like sharks in a feeding-frenzy when they see a change in a relationship status, or is it just me and my young(er) friends who fall victim to this?