Photograph: Wayne Tippetts/Rex Features
In a society where the only acceptable way to think and live is black or white; anyone that steps outside of that preconceived notion now has a title. One that has become synonymous with being a douche. Hipster. I see it every day on social media. You’re either right or left, Democrat or Republican, Pro-life or Pro-Choice. It is no longer acceptable to agree with two views adopted by either spectrum. Some may argue that, in the political realm, that person would be considered a Libertarian. But let’s stray away from the political associations with this unidentified social class. First, we need to try and define what a Hipster is, so that we can dissect it and get a better understanding.
“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, and historical movements. Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional "rules" of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainstream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty.” -Urban Dictionary-
Although everyone has their own definition of this subculture and what it means to be a hipster, they swiftly jump to a conclusion before ever associating with the person they’ve labeled. Although I’m a young individual, my views, tastes’, ideals and dress has changed drastically in the past 2 years. Having spent the entirety of my young adult life in the Army, I was used to a group defined by the military. The military is a melting pot of social classes, religion, beliefs and culture. You meet everyone from every walk of life, that’s what makes our armed forces so great. But there are common traits that the majority seem to adopt. There is a hatred or disdain for anyone that doesn’t fit a mold. Homosexuals, Atheists’, yuppies, Liberals, and the list can go on. I too was guilty of this narrow mindedness. I had the pleasure and honor of serving with a Staff Sergeant, a phenomenal leader. After he got out of the Army he came out that he was gay to all of those that called him a friend. It was this honesty that caused me to internalize my previous disdain for serving alongside gays. This gay man had proven himself time and time again that he was capable of serving his country with honor and distinction and not try to hit on every guy in the tent. It made me realize that I was a piece of shit for having an issue with what men and women chose to do in the bedroom. Who was I to say what was right and wrong? How hipster of me to “shun mainstream societal conventions”.
Shortly after my discharge I left “small” town Colorado and claimed San Diego California as my new residence. The West Coast is notorious for being Liberal and is often frowned upon and only brought up in conversations across the country as a socialist state full of “Libtards”. Up until this point, I was raised in red states in a conservative Christian family that very blatantly frowned upon certain ways of life and anyone with differing points of view. But now I was smack dab in the center of a city with so much diversity that social classes hardly exist. My friends that I once had in the military were gone, my new friends, made up of a diverse group of working class individuals were now the ones I hung out with on a weekly basis. The conversations were no longer about killing dudes, firefights, defense budget cuts and Jaegermeister. We spoke of issues such as proposed legislation in the city, police corruption, the Tuna season and where the next brewery was going to pop up. It’s this diversity and and new sense of culture that started to change me. I quit using military time, I stopped wearing my Oakley M Frames to the bar, I exchanged my Multicam contractor cap for hair pomade. What the hell was happening to me?!.
This change that I was undergoing wasn’t due to peer pressure from my friends and co-workers, it was a direct result of being cultured and talking to people from various backgrounds and beliefs. People outside of one centralized group with CAC cards. I noticed that my anger, frustrations, sleep issues and every other symptom I brought home from Iraq and Afghanistan was dissipating. When a beer was spilled on me at the bar, my first instinct was no longer to punch the dude in the mouth. I could now find myself at a gay bar with my wife without the overall assumption that everyone there wanted to sleep with me. I was no longer drinking Coors Light and Budweiser, I had grown an affinity for the IPA’s that San Diego is so famous for. This change didn’t feel forced, it didn’t make me feel isolated from the military and the culture I was once so accustomed to. If anything, it was a positive transition. I felt relaxed; free from the demons I had brought back home from so many years of fighting overseas.
My cargo pants were thrown to the back of the closet, my Oakley’s were replaced with something that couldn’t take a shot gun blast, my beer order cost more than 2$ and I found myself spending the holidays with my two happily married middle aged gay neighbors and their 20 year old boyfriend. Hipster was a term frequently used to describe me by my friends out of state. Was I a hipster? did I become gentrified because I had a flexible view on societal norms?. The answer is no. I still owned more firearms than anyone I knew and I shot them on a regular basis. I worked out daily, not succumbing to the frail androgynous millennial we see today. My beard was grown because after 10 years of being forced to shave everyday, I was tired of buying razors. I was socially liberal and economically conservative. I don’t give a damn about the refugees and I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement is a crock of shit that only perpetuates racism. But I also believe that gay men and women should be allowed to do whatever they please and Marijuana isn’t the devil.
There is very little in this world that pisses me off. But when I’m called a hipster because I’m wearing a saggy beanie, button up shirt, slim fitting jeans with leather shoes while drinking an IPA, it enrages me. I don’t know many hipsters that have spent their entire adult life fighting for their country, protecting the citizens of the United States, spend countless hours perfecting their ability to engage targets out to 1,500 yards and run a company that caters to the men that would slit the throat of a terrorist if confronted with them. The hipsters you all are thinking of are the passive, frail vegan men that sit at a Starbucks and bring their typewriter so they can write a column on how great Che Guevara was while wearing their “Occupy Wall Street” shirt.
Hipster isn’t defined by a style of dress, what they believe or what part of town they live in. It’s an un-definable social group entirely. But is it such a bad one? Is it so bad to be repulsed by mainstream media and influenced by creativity, culinary arts and higher education? There are bad apples in every group. There are child molesting priests’ in the Catholic church, there are gun smuggling Democratic politicians like Leland Yee, and there are NFL icons that beat their wife, murder people and fight dogs. Don’t be a part of the problem by immediately writing someone off because you have a different opinion. It’s that mentality that has fractured our country in the past 15 years and continues to do so daily. Celebrate diversity, but stick up for your beliefs in a respectable manner.
**This blog is nothing more than a rant, not to be taken in some insane literal context. Just my opinions.