Generation Games: Millennials and Hipster Hatred
As any scientist will tell you, a series of small problems can accumulate into a chaotic burden without a centralized agent. The present economic straits of the WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Developed) nations appear to be a ready example. I would like to add another perspective to the platform of discussion from an unexpected source.
Confession Time! I'm a Millennial. We hate hipsters too. This got me thinking, since my generation has little else to preoccupy itself with in this economy. The Millennials are quite a broad demographic of young and presently 'educated' people. I am in my early twenties, for perspective, a prime candidate of the label. A hipster, to us, denotes a lifestyle and mindset.
In generic terms, we classify them as: pompously overeducated and practically useless, obsessive about style and appearance over substantive invisible qualities such as work ethic and patience, with an expectation of entitlement to authority in a specialist field, self-perceived as morally flawless and fashionable, and convinced by their upbringing that life should come easier to them due to inherent special snowflake-ness. You can see why we despise them (and this is the reason they deny what they are). This combination can be traced back to a myriad of societal practices and parental or educational re-enforcers, which I shan't go into.
They are superior identity chameleons but only a fool would buy into their mirage. The objective reason we despise them? Their parasitism. They are 'living the dream' and 'enjoying their youth' seemingly without consequence or reproach. Nothing lasts forever.
Hipsters are a symptom of a social disease, an acceptable narcissism. They are the negative example we should work from to pick apart the current problems we face. I include my own Millennials in this estimation, above other generations, as we are at the greatest risk of catching this dangerous ignorance of the world. I implore discussion and honest critique on this subject, for the betterment of us all.
Let us assume the worst in this thought experiment, that my generation is done for and we'll be assimilated into the Hipster Borg eventually. What is the narcissist's reaction to an obstacle, inconvenience or higher unsurpassable authority? A quiet anger bubbling to a rage with various superiority and insecurity complexes coming to the fore. I believe this caused Occupy Wall Street. We believe our elders are completely, cartoonishly immoral (hence we are superior, inevitable conquerors) and their security is undeserved (hence our insecurity is justifiably remedied to our ego). Years later, Occupy achieved nothing. We are listless (what now?), proven impotent (holding cardboard and screaming doesn't work, who knew?) and in the breakdown of our assumptions we should be humbled. If we were logical instead of narcissistic.
The conclusion we really drew? A polarization: authority is either all good (optimistic statism) or all evil (anarchistic cynicism). It is no coincidence hipsters can be divided by these political alignments.
How does the Hipster identity affect other generations? They're overtly a subculture by any definition, so the question is valid. Despite failure at their Occupy stand, they remain untouchable in their parasitism. How can this be? Clearly, they were never risking anything in the first place, as a benefit of their dependence. To preserve their sanity, they have distanced themselves from further movements. They've become more introspective and underground, retreating to their safe origins to regroup.
This is the perfect time to question them! As they continue to reap rewards of a system they play for personal gain, they conveniently forget they're riding the coat-tails of a system which allows them to float aimlessly, which forbids both failure and true, long term success. They're clasping to ideals with a religious fervor more so than ever. The aging populations supporting these brats will expect to leech in kind soon from the same system. There isn't enough room for two parasites in a system, and the elderly have earnt it with years of service. The youth cannot moralize special dispensation or superiority this time.
If we are subsumed, the Millennial reaction will be a fiery tantrum, blaming others (the government should care for ill parents, accusations of corporate medical negligence) as a saintly façade to protect their own lifestyle and foist the duty of care in an historically unprecedented direction. Having children is economic insurance that they will care for you and your property in age, and then be rewarded by inheriting what you began to build. Millennials (and hipster extremists) have and continue to borrow on credit a decadence they never intend on cashing back into the system. Logically, we know the outcome. A correction is coming.
The generational fixations of my own elders, Gen-Y and above, the fetishizing of basic necessities aren't purely aspirational - they are fearful. No volume of organic food and yoga will prevent age-related disease. You want STEM boosted to develop solutions catered to your needs, an understandable motive. The overlap of intergenerational identities, each arrogantly prioritizing oneself, forgoes the need to question oneself. Hey, Carpe Diem! Thus, you see middle class parents and their children alike going on additional vacations instead of paying down debt or adding to the pension pot. The children have already begun to question why their parents are "spending my inheritance". We know we are set for the time being, since politicians have catered to the youth vote since the Sixties. There is no burden calling yet, no spoon to feed our retired relatives. How dare they deprive us our entitlement?
Millennials most fear their parents requiring their personal support; we're barely carrying on ourselves in this economy so push thoughts of the long term aside for hedonic short term trivialities puffed with hipster excuses. This part is common to recessions, a coping mechanism to wait it out. Irony, detachment on an emotional level, arises from the cognitive dissonance of the debts being called in, literally. I don't pretend to have individual answers on how to deal with this encroaching deadlock. I seek a rapport and respect between these age divisions.
To be fair, every generation has a limit. A point where they cease to pursue change and hunker down in survival mode with society as-is. The buck for each issue has a limited number of times it can be passed before burning its final recipients. Millennials talk a good game, a sensible reaction to the world we grew up in; however, change in unstoppable. Our old roles are quickly choking us. Between generations, we'd best acknowledge our habits as a collective and attempt to salvage what we cherish from this WEIRD mess before it splatters in our face like a Vitamix avocado smoothie blended without a lid.
Let's get ourselves together as adults and keep this situation contained. I say, the buck stops here.
Jennifer Smith observes hipsters from her home in the United Kingdom