|September 30, 2011||Posted by Sophy Bot under Hipsterdom|
They were supposed to be dead. In 2004, a satirical article in New York magazine declared that the hipsters were leaving and New York City was in danger of being “over.” Some five years later, n+1 magazine held a panel asking “What was the Hipster?,” with obvious implications imparted therein. One year after that, an article of the same name hit New York magazine, declaring that the evolution of the hipster stopped in 2009 and we’d “reached the end of an epoch in the life of the type.” Hmm.
Apparently, right around the time when some people started declaring hipsterdom over, the rest of the world was just catching on to its very existence. A query on Google Trends clearly shows that search volume has increased nearly four-fold since 2004, with an accompanying uptick in related news stories. So what about the other big subcultures? Have their search volumes been going up too?
I guess not. The goths and the punks have been experiencing decreased interest levels, while the hippies have remained a steady hum in the background of the zeitgeist. It’s only the hipster that’s been getting more popular. So what does this all mean?
Despite all the doom-saying, hipsterdom is not on its way out. If anything, it’s on its way up. We’ve reached a tipping point in the evolution of the hipster where the principles underlying the hipster aesthetic – freedom of self-expression and an emphasis on creativity – have gone from being markers of cultural outsiders and have planted themselves firmly in the mainstream (if such a thing can even be said to exist anymore). Hipsters aren’t dead – far from it. Nor are we being particularly accurate when we call anybody wearing thick-rimmed glasses or skinny jeans a hipster. To be a hipster often means expressing yourself freely and without regard for traditional standards of propriety. Even the standards themselves keep changing, as more and more iterations of style become acceptable and nobody bats an eyelash anymore at a conservative with a tattoo or a 2-year-old with a mohawk. Maybe it’s time we stop pigeonholing the hipster and declaring him dead and instead take the trend for what it really is – the natural evolution of self-expression.
Note: I’ve recently released a book entitled, “The Hipster Effect: How the Rising Tide of Individuality is Changing Everything We Know about Life, Work and the Pursuit of Happiness” that covers the concept of the modern hipster in more depth and explains the different elements of cultural evolution that have led to this new archetype. Buy it on Amazon Kindle here.
Photo credit: Digital Sextant