Lifestyle Style

It’s Official…I’m A Hipster :(

Nate the hipster

Well, I'm not fully convinced that I'm a hipster, but society at large seems to think so.

I've been getting the hipster label since the moment I started wearing wingtips, but it wasn't until a friend recently saw I'd been featured in a YouTube video as the physical representation of a Hipster, that I decided to address the issue.

Now although the host of the PBS Idea Channel was very nice and not in any way taking shots at me, it made it instantly clear that when people think of the word hipster, they think of someone who looks like me.

I'm not sure if I am a hipster, but if so, do I really care? Do you?

The entire video is a really well done history of the hoodie so I recommend that you watch the whole thing, but you can skip to 9:07 to see a real life hipster in his natural habitat.

Using “Hipster” As An Insult

Nearly all the negative comments directed at me here on Iron & Tweed (just a few out of over 1,000!) have contained the word or implication of hipster somewhere in the insult. Like this one.

Hey Nate, There is nothing worse than an unoriginal hipster puke wearing a pair of DM’s. Especially when the boots in question are not straight laced! It’s bad enough to see those horrible clone like hairdos and ridiculous beards in a hideous pair of Allen Edmonds knockoffs. Please continue to view DM’s as the boot/shoe of punks, freaks, and deadbeat artsy types. For the love of all that hipster culture holds holy (coffee shops & homely girls with horn-rimmed glasses) stay in your daddy’s wingtips! The last thing punks, freaks, and weirdos want is grudging approval from a hipster of any sort!

In addition to that em, one angry fellow characterized me as someone who would blast down the street in my Subaru WRX (presumably with a fart can) while vaping and billowing smoke from my windows.

That sounds great, but I don't own a Subaru WRX and have never vaped. And I'd never really viewed myself as much of a hipster.

But it's not only online, I get called a hipster in real life too. Many conversations with friends, family, and casual or new acquaintances have contained something like the following:

“You don't feed your daughter candy and soda? Hipster.”

“Nice iPhone and Macbook Air, hipster!”

Aw, you look so nice. You're dressed like such a hipster.”

While some people almost say this as a compliment, others present it as a thinly veiled jab.

All I can do is smile when I hear shit like this because the words of scorn usually come from someone wearing a sports team hoodie and dirty running shoes while simultaneously complaining about their belly fat, poor financial situation, and a host of other problems.

Really, I don't feel like I'm living some kind of highly alternative lifestyle.

I do things just a little different than most and have my life mostly in order. But the general reaction of most people is to criticize the unfamiliar.

What I Think Of As A Hipster

The first time I heard the word hipster was around 2005 while talking to a high school friend who had recently settled down in Portland, Oregon.

I asked her how the people were out there and she said “oh, they're great, but we have a LOT of hipsters in our area.”

Me, “Hipster? You mean hippies? Tie dye shirts, long hair, sandals?”

Her, “uhhh, not quite.”

She went on to describe a group of 20-somethings known for their tight pants, ironic t-shirts, mustaches, drinking PBR, and chain smoking. They listened to obscure music, talked politics, and refused to conform to social norms.

She also noted that were often considered to be aloof, judgy, preachy, even flat out rude at times. And a number of them (in Portland) were voluntarily homeless because they refused to work for “the man” even though they had degrees and came from well-to-do families.

Me, “Interesting. Maybe I'll meet one of these fringe creatures some day.”

Soon after, I began to notice a handful of folks fitting the visual description of a hipster in my neighborhood and even more when I took a day trip into the city.

Really, they didn't seem that different from any other group of youths I'd encountered, so I was pretty ambivalent to the hipster community.

But fairly soon after learning about this new (to me) breed of cool kids, I dramatically limited my TV consumption (and eventually cut cable altogether), stopped reading magazines, ignored online news, and didn't participate in social media.

With this lack of social influence, my definition of a hipster was static.

The New Definition Of A Hipster

After being called a hipster more times than I can count over the next decade, I though “okay, these people are crazy! I don't smoke, ride a fixed gear bicycle, talk incessantly about social issues, or aim to be one step ahead of every trend.

But after the YouTube video, my wife said, “well, let's put it to the test.” Several online quizzes later confirmed what people had been saying to me for years. I, Nate Lewis, am a hipster.

However, it turns out that the common definition of a hipster has evolved over the years, and has been so misused by the general public that it's nearly useless.

Historically, a hipster was part of a small subset of society who prided themselves on forward thinking, setting the latest trends, and enjoying activities that others weren't cool enough to partake in.

But according to completely average people:

  • Anyone with a beard or any form of a hairstyle is a hipster
  • Your 13 year old cousin who loves music is a hipster
  • Hollywood actors? All hipsters!
  • If you've ever gone hiking you're definitely a hipster
  • Boat shoes are hipster
  • Ever eaten organic food? Total hipster move!
  • The specky urbanite is a major hipster
  • The guy with the open vest and no shoes or shirt is a hipster
  • Anyone who gardens is a hipster
  • Like any form of art? Hipster!

So hipsters are supposed to be the minority and go against the grain.

But with how fast trends and ideas spread in the age of the internet, there really isn't much of a “fringe” area of society to hide (at least not one visible enough for your average Joe to notice and use to label others).

Today, everyone is visible and trends move so fast that who can even tell what's current, retro, or dated?

When an unfamiliar song comes up on my playlist, I honestly can't tell if it's an awesome 80s jam I've never heard or was just released last month!

So I guess it's true…

hipster quiz

Quizzes never lie.

According to the ones doing the name calling (I call them Normies*)

ANYONE DOING SOMETHING POSITIVE WITH THEIR LIFE IS A HIPSTER!

During almost all of my wakeful hours, if I'm not actively working to make my life better, I'm using my “downtime” to surf the internet or read books for fresh information, ideas, and inspiration about:

  • Making better food choices
  • Living with fewer, but higher quality things
  • The secrets to building muscle and staying lean
  • Finding audio equipment that will increase my enjoyment of music
  • How to change my perception of the world around me

If these things are fringe, then I'm completely uninterested in being mainstream.

My Admitted Hipster Offenses

From a visual standpoint, I have a beard, classic haircut, tortoise shell glasses, and wear fitted clothes. Guilty as charged.

Lifestyle wise, I prefer public transportation and cycling to driving, want to live in Portland, Oregon someday, and was drinking craft beer and whiskey before it was cool (such a hipster thing to say, haha!).

But I didn't choose any of these things because I want to be better than anyone or to fulfill some uncontrollable desire to be different regardless of the outcome.

I choose them because they seem like the best choices FOR ME.

I like the Pacific Northwest because the weather is mild compared to Chicago, the surrounding environment is beautiful, and the people there tend to value individuality and free thinking.

I have a beard because I've been shaving since 7th grade and always wondered what I would look like if I let it grow out. When I saw it working for other guys I figured I'd give it a shot.

Is being a Hipster so bad? Are YOU one?

I can't see the downside of fitting into the broad category of modern-day hipsters.

More appreciation for all forms of art?

Moving beyond seeing the world as it used to or ought to be, to seeing it as it is?

Aiming for a presentable appearance?

Other than not fitting in with people who are complacent with, or scared to, change their dreary lives, what do you and I have to lose by being associated with hipsters?

As long as people aren't calling you a hipster because you're an insufferable dick lording your supposed intellectual and political superiority over people every time you open your mouth, don't be concerned with the label.

From here on out, I'll take each accusation of being a hipster as recognition for doing things differently than those who are underwhelmed with their own lives.

In other words, I'll take it as a compliment!

All the best,

Nate

*Normie – Anyone who is content (and simultaneously miserable) with their dead end job, failing relationships, closed minded thinking, and general lack of awesomeness. Their favorite activity is to strike first and make fun of others as a defense mechanism. 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Tito
    March 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

    My friends call me a hipster all the time. Guess who gets the most IOI’s, and complements? It funny I’ve noticed they all have been dressing more like “hipsters” as they say. Sorry I like to dress well.

    • Reply
      Nate
      March 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      That’s a great observation, Tito. First they criticize, then they copy. Makes you question their motives in the first place.

  • Reply
    James
    March 2, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    It’s the beard Nate.

  • Reply
    Jason
    March 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    The big beard and the mustache with the curls on the ends is definitely a very hipster thing.
    I don’t think your clothes are hipster. You dress nice. I’ve even bought a few items because of your recommendations.
    There’s nothing wrong with hipsters. They clean up bad neighborhoods and create great coffee shops.
    Downtown Jersey City, NJ and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, NY used to be shit holes. Now they’re nice and safe.

  • Reply
    Arthur
    March 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I just really can’t understand those conventional people who are too jealous with men who are happy with finer things in life.

    Normies? That made my day! XD

  • Reply
    Carlos
    March 4, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Hipsters don’t lift weights. They’re almost entirely into cardio. Also, their goal with their clothes is usually to look ironic, not masculine or accomplished.

  • Reply
    Marcus Harris
    March 5, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    When did looking good become “hipster”? Normies are masters of deflection; they have to deflect their inadequacy on someone else. It’s very child-like.

    People treat you better when you look good and insecure people feel their flaws are exposed more when you’re around them. Its like eating raw eggs when everyone else is getting Arby’s.

  • Reply
    Roman
    March 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Yeah, whatever. I’m a Metalhead, but have some traits that are hipsterish.

    1. I have a MacBook Air and an iPhone. That’s partially because I love UNIX (Macs now run a version of FreeBSD) and partially because I buy products from the companies I own stock in. I happen to have made tens of thousands in Apple stock, so if anyone has a problem with that, they can bite me.

    2. I’m a beer snob. I’ll readily admit Hipsters have pretty good taste in beer.

    3. I eat organic food. My mother died of stomach cancer. Of course I’m going to eat organic from here on out.

    4. I bought thousands of dollars of art last year. Whatever. I honor people who support artists as anyone should. Sure, a lot of artists are complete douchebags, but there are complete douchebags in every group, including Metalheads (especially Prog Metalheads).

    5. I’m well-dressed in public. Guess what? Well dressed people get more respect and make more money. It’s dumb not to be well-dressed if you can afford it.

    For you, I think it’s the beard. I wouldn’t worry about it though. You’re a pretty good writer and I’ll always enjoy reading your blog, no matter how high or low you rate on the Hipster scale. And yes, Portland is a pretty cool city, despite it being full of hipsters. ;)

    • Reply
      Nate
      March 10, 2017 at 10:31 am

      We’re on the same page Roman. We choose these “hipster” things because we view them as the best choice, not because we want to impress the cool kids.

  • Reply
    ian
    March 6, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Reading this blog and I’ve come to the conclusion. Yup, I’m a hipster.

  • Reply
    Andrew
    March 6, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    So I guess the new word for a normal modern person is hipster… who would’ve thought. If the hipster net stretches any further it may dissipate into nothingness.

  • Reply
    John Kurtz
    March 8, 2017 at 7:20 am

    In a world where you can be anything be yourself! Your a good guy Nate keep rockin it!

  • Reply
    Chad
    March 19, 2017 at 1:48 am

    Great article! Entertaining as well. Keep it up!

  • Reply
    Chad
    March 22, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Great post! I’ve painted with that brush before, but I don’t dress or look anything like you. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, just different styles. I think at this point people are so quick to throw labels on other people, especially to deride them that the definition or accuracy doesn’t matter anymore. They don’t understand the term but they know how’s it’s viewed so they throw it in every direction. I’ve just discovered your blog and you seem to be doing good things so just keep up the good work.

  • Reply
    sky
    March 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    It’s all the same old thing with new words. Hipsters are the nerds and Bros are the jocks. But what about the rest of us socially adjusted nerds who might have played team sports, lift weights, and don’t crush miller lights against our heads while screaming SEC rules? Or what about the bro guy who has diverse taste in music, fashion, art, and so forth. The middle ground is a strange place on the nerd-jock continuum. I think the best thing call someone in this category such as yourself is just — interesting or well rounded.

    The problem is that “hipster” things merged with mainstream yuppie things around at some point in the last couple of years. It’s all just how the spectrum of cool goes from elite insider to grandpa. A great example is how Led Zeplin is now used to sell Cadillac to old rich white guys when 45 years ago the band was poster child 70s counter culture.

    What were once defining bits and pieces of various subcultures like punk rock, metal, home brew scene, etc have now all merged into regular culture via corporate commercialization. So the trend was subculture > hipsters (really just anyone who was artsy and wasn’t a total bro archetype) > everyone.

    Craft beer? Who the fuck doesn’t drink it? Beards? What celebrity doesn’t have one or who isn’t rocking at least a small one. The outdoors and hiking? Patagonia has been selling rich white people the outdoors far longer than the word hipster existed.

    Of course there are the outliers and resisters. Most of americas lower classes are clueless or intolerant towards Americans changing mainstream preferences.

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