Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Hipsters (Or, How I Learned to Embrace Epicurus)

There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet bashing the hipster culture, but I think I’ve got it nailed.

From a distance, I am a hipster. I’m comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt with a pop culture reference. I’ve worn glasses since 9th grade, square cut frames because I don’t look so good in round/frameless. I don’t wear Converse All-Stars because I like the way they feel. I like the way they look, with a boot-cut pant leg draped across the laces, almost dragging, but not quite. Man, you pull a pair of Converse out of the washing machine and they are bright white just like the day you bought them, they look great (in the spirit of full disclosure, my attraction to Converse may be a result of my love of Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez [that’s a Sandlot reference]).

I work part-time at a startup in social media and part-time as a barista at a Starbucks licensed cafe. I call myself a writer. I own a Macbook (since 2008); I have had an iPod since the original 2nd generation; I’ve had an iPad 2 since July; I’ve had an iPhone since my contract last expired. One of my favorite bands is from Europe (Within Temptation) and it’s likely you’ve never heard of them.

I fit the hipster image.

So, how can I claim to be different?

I enjoy things. I love Lady Gaga. Whenever Poker Face comes on the radio, I crank it up and sing along.

The Muppets was one of the most emotionally poignant movies I’ve seen this year.

I love reading non-fiction. I taught myself to play passable guitar so I could play (badly) and sing (equally badly).

I own a lightsaber replica, and it is awesome!

A big aspect of the hipster generation is their inability to find enjoyment in the things they do. They like obscure bands because they are obscure. They wear t-shirts “ironically”. They over-critisize every movie they see while maintaining an air of superiority. They read books to be seen, rather than books they want to read.

It’s a trap!

There are so many things available to our culture now, it’s ridiculous to waste time on stuff from which we don’t glean enjoyment.

Philosophy time!

Epicurus believed that pleasure is the greatest good. But the way to attain pleasure was to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires. This led one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from “hedonism” as it is commonly understood.

It propounded an ethic of individual pleasure as the sole or chief good in life. Hence, Epicurus advocated living in such a way as to derive the greatest amount of pleasure possible during one’s lifetime, yet doing so moderately in order to avoid the suffering incurred by overindulgence in such pleasure.

I’m not promoting hedonism, but it’s not a bad thing to enjoy yourself every now and again. Every hipster I’ve ever interacted with is always the same on that level: they never talk about something they legitimately enjoyed to the point where I wonder if they enjoy anything.

I’m not making any great leaps here. Take advantage of the small pleasures in life. Look for things you enjoy rather than irritate.

Be like this guy:

No one hates hula hoops.

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2 responses

  1. Dean Adams

    Great post. One thing. Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez didn’t wear converse. They were PF Flyers. Converse are still wonderful, however.

    January 3, 2013 at 2:31 am

    • Kate Cornell

      This is so weird. I just got my copy of Mental Floss today and they had a little blurb about when Converse bought PF Flyers and had to sell it. You’re right! Thanks for the correction.

      January 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm

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