Do we all live ironically?

Being a hipster in the Twin Cities constitutes a unique set of lifestyle choices.

Meghan O'Connor


The term “hipster” has been characterized as a sub-culture that fears falling victim to mainstream fads. Hipsters may be spotted at thrift or vintage stores rummaging through hand-me-down bins trying to find the most ironic garments. Or, they may be scouring the aisles of Dinkytown Liquor for a deal on their drink of choice: PBR.

Whatever they may be doing or wherever they may be, the hipster community has catapulted itself into the Twin Cities community, which ranked 16th on Travel & Leisure’s list for the most hipster-friendly cities in America.

I have decided to take on the burden of defining what being a true hipster is and how living this ironic lifestyle can be a benefit despite the stigma it can carry in the eyes of some.

It’s interesting that almost every dictionary definition of “hipster” seems to leave out very common associations with the word. Oxford dictionary defines it as “someone who follows the latest trends and fashions.” Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a hipster as “a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.” Ol’ Merriam-Webster is getting closer.

Because a definitive hipster culture fails to be defined, we seem to create various things to associate with hipsters: fixed gear bikes, vinyl, coffee shops, old books, oversized spectacles, etc. The list could go on tirelessly, because like other subcultures, it continues to change.

In my own experience, hipsters tend to be 20- or 30-something individuals living out their youth by rejecting the ordinary. Many times they reside near a college town and generally congregate around a city. Trends within the hipster culture can vary from city to city, but one thing can be most certain about hipsters: You’re not one of them. At least, that is what you want to believe.

Whenever someone is labeled as a hipster, they suddenly become flushed in the face, start glancing at their outfit and shaking their head frantically back and forth trying to rid themselves of this terrifying label, “hipster.”

Many fear to be called one but still strive to become one. Is this just another way to be ironic?

If you have had a chance to check out the show “Portlandia” on the Independent Film Channel, you would know that many people get a laugh out of watching the stereotypes of hipsters. I found it comical. The couple sitting at a table in an all-organic restaurant then getting in their car to drive 30 minutes to the farm where their soon-to-be dinner was raised is hilarious.

Clearly a sketch is an exaggeration of reality, but there is some truth in a show like this. We love to laugh and ridicule hipsters for how they live, but have we ever stopped to think that maybe we all have a little hipster in us.

So here comes the argument that being a hipster and living “ironically” can be a beneficial lifestyle.

In a column published in The New York Times, an assistant French professor at Princeton University addressed the ironic lifestyle. She said, “To live ironically is to hide in public.”

Because we are part of the millennium generation, we have great difficulty in finding pieces of culture that are representative of us and us alone. As the argument goes, everything has already been done.

If you look at the hipster style, it all stems from past fashions. And the lifestyle dwells on the past, bringing it into our culture.

Maybe we are all struggling to find a true identity within this community, so many revert backward, thus, being labeled as hipsters.

In an age where we attach ourselves to our computers, phones, iPads and the like, a hipster is simply trying to reject these tools to attempt to become an individual. Many will harp on hipsters for trying to be too “out of the ordinary,” but shouldn’t we be commending it? Shouldn’t we be applauding someone’s ability to set their self apart from the rest?

In fact, what used to be labeled as being “hipster” is now nestled into mainstream culture. Musicians like Bon Iver or even Mumford and Sons used to be played out by hipsters, but now it seems that everyone has listened to a song or two.

Hipsters are always placing themselves one step ahead of the mainstream to achieve individuality, and once the masses become attune to pieces of their culture, they too have to change.

Yes, many may continue to hold a negative connotation with the word “hipster.” It seems that even the most hipster of us are rejecting the word. But, put the word aside and you have a subculture of people who are trying to find an independent voice in a time when that is often difficult.

Technology has given a voice to everyone, which then takes away the power of having a voice in the first place. To stay current and to continue being an individual, independence must be achieved.

Maybe after all of this, we should just admire hipsters for always being ahead of the curve and never settling for being mainstream.