Guest Post: Thoughts About “Cool”

This is a guest post by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Enjoy!

This is quite possibly the silliest, most vacuous thing about hipster-bashing I’ve ever read.

Which is impressive really, because ‘hipster’ is a pretty vacuous concept. It’s hard to pin down, like ‘cool’ is hard to pin down. But what annoys me about things like this is that she talks about hipsters, and by extension, coolness, as if it’s a real thing that’s really important.

I’ve done my share of thinking about coolness, and I’ve come to a conclusion. Coolness is having made the right consumer choices, as defined by a particular peer group. Any peer group. Doesn’t matter, as long as it’s the peer group you’re hoping will think you’re cool.

See, I own a couple of Star Trek tee-shirts. Among most people, probably not cool at all. Among some other people, perhaps cool in a ‘nerd is in’ or ‘ironic’ way. At a sci-fi convention? Cool, but nowhere as cool as that shirt from ThinkGeek.

I however, love them both.

See, I don’t like the idea of having to subject my tastes to anyone’s approval. I have both Led Zeppelin and Lady Gaga on my iPod. I also have Corvus Corvax. Chances are you’ve heard both of former, but not the latter. There are definitely people in the world who will think less of you depending on what’s on your iPod or your bookshelf. They’ll disdain the sorts of people who will think less of you for the labels you have on your clothing, but no matter. The people who will disdain you for the labels on your clothing will run screaming at what’s on your iPod or your bookshelf. Perhaps they’ll even run screaming at the fact of how overloaded your bookshelf is.

I think it’s a fallacy to think that your personal tastes are somehow indicative of anything about you but your personal tastes, and to some extent, what you’ve been exposed to. I don’t own any zydeco because I don’t know anything about zydeco and I’ve never been curious enough about zydeco to find out more about it. Maybe I should though, since “zydeco” is kind of a nifty sounding word. It seriously doesn’t mean anything about me that I like both some Led Zeppelin songs and some Lady Gaga songs, or that I like Star Trek. Oh, but the last one stung, doesn’t it? I mean, you’d like to think my Star Trek shirts meant something, but honestly, what do they really mean? Mostly that Star Trek is a comfort food of a TV show for me, because my oldest brother sat me down and made me watch it at the age of twelve, and I remember that fondly as one of the notable times in my childhood that someone was actually interested in getting to know me. What, you think I watch it for the quaint, retrograde portrayal of gender roles?

Which brings me back to hipster-bashing. Oh sure, maybe a few people bash hipsters because they’re just meanies who always resented the cool kids and the fun good times they always seemed to be having, but I don’t think they’re even close to the majority. I think most people bash hipsters not so much because of anything about hipsters themselves, but more the very idea of ‘hip.’ Hipsters are simply the latest group of people to come along and deliberately try to be cool in public. People who think they’re the greatest because they knew about that obscure band before they become famous? Trust me, those types have been around long before the current hipster phenomenon. People who feel a need to loudly proclaim a particular identity through distinctive fashion? Hello, welcome to the goth scene. Leave your suntan at the door.

The thing is though, after a certain point in life, most people can’t really sustain that kind of lifestyle, even if they were ever living it at all. And so they become ‘uncool.’ And then a funny thing happens. They discover that they’re still people with a valid point of view, and that life really isn’t so bad. And hey, what do you know, there’s freedom here. Freedom to listen to whatever you like without worrying about what your friends will think about it. Freedom to wear sweatpants in public, just because they’re comfortable. You discover that even when you’re not loudly proclaiming your identity, somehow you’re still a person with real live opinions and everything.

And then you see ‘hipsters,’ or whatever those dang crazy kids are calling it now. And you giggle, because they’re trying so damn hard to be individuals, and it’s hilarious. And really, it’s almost like they’re making fun of themselves, just by existing and taking themselves so damn seriously.

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