Hating Hipsters: How The Mainstream Hijacked Authenticity And Made Non-Conformity A Joke
It appears that we are at a point where normalcy has hijacked the notion of authenticity so completely that we think of those who differ from us in any way as insincere. Except in place of the word insincere, we now use hipster or snob. How so? To enjoy mainstream music or movies is supposedly to be unaffected by the judgment of others, it is a grand act of rebellion whereby one shakes off the shackles of cool and simply embraces what one truly enjoys. What happens, though, when you encounter somebody who dislikes something you enjoy? You’ve been grooving to the Gotye album for a few months now when suddenly you hear somebody at your work talk about how much they hate Gotye. Hate Gotye? What is their problem? Well, you realise it isn’t cool to like Gotye, but you don’t care about things like cool. This Gotye hater must be hung-up in some way. They must be a hipster. They’ve foolishly bought into notions of cool and as a result are afraid to enjoy Gotye. You, however, are unafraid. This tendency to attach derogatory labels to those who differ from us, while ignoring ways in which we are the same as the subject of our anger, appears to be one of the main fuels for hipster hatred. It also exposes the staggering falsity behind ideas of authenticity.
In his recent book A Universe From Nothing, physicist Lawrence Krauss talked about a strange phenomenon that results from an expanding universe. Due to the fact that everything is always moving away from everything else, if you make observations at any point in the universe it always looks like you are the centre of the universe. If you were suddenly transported to the other side of the universe, however, it would look the same. You aren’t the centre of the universe; it just looks that way. When it comes to outside influence on our opinions and tastes, it seems like a similar phenomenon is at work. Each person imagines that everyone else is a hipster, that everyone else is being influenced by society, that everyone else is inauthentic. If the music they enjoy happens to be hip, well that’s neither here nor there. They enjoy it because they like it, not because it’s hip. People even imagine that their close friends and loved ones fall under the sway of outside influence. Trust me, right now your friends think you’re only listening to that one album because of Pitchfork, or maybe because everybody at that one indie record store likes it, or perhaps because the cute person you work with likes it too. Everything they like, however, is free from such taints.
Your brain is a wonderful thing. It does tend to play one nasty trick on you, though. It gets influenced by everything around it and then makes you believe that no influence was involved. In fact, it rationalises your decisions to make it seem like you have very sensible reasons for carrying out your actions, when in fact your actions are mostly irrational or based on emotion. Let’s say you’ve started listening to an album that you had previously dismissed and let’s say that your friend’s suspicions are correct and you really have started listening to it because a cute co-worker says it’s their favourite album. What will be going on in your head? Well, your brain will be telling itself that you’ve been meaning to re-investigate that album for a long time anyway (which may have an element of truth to it) and so in reality there’s no connection between your secret crush and the fact that you’ve started listening to this album. There’s a term for this in psychology. It’s called Introspection Illusion.