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.
There’s been a good bit of chatter in the firearms community recently about our weapons being “tools” and treating them as such. By chatter, of course I mean an incident where an instructor from a training company we will choose not to name, was proving a point that weapons are tools, and decided to throw a loaded firearm on the ground and stomp on it. Lo and behold, the weapon discharged and sent a round right into the side of a student’s vehicle. Making matters worse, the instructor decided to pressure the class into keeping their mouths shut and did not report the incident to the host range, but that’s another topic for another day. In order to properly dissect the point that was trying to be made here, let’s do a little brief history on tools.
The earliest tools that historians have tagged for human use are simple rocks, sticks, and other items found in nature and modified for specific uses. These of course evolved over time into more modern items as the discoveries of copper, iron, and other malleable and rugged materials began being discovered and utilized. Then something amazing happened. As civilizations became more developed, mankind began to fabricate and perfect tools for the specific trades they worked in. Now people with specific skill sets were building tools that were specifically designed out of necessity and experience, thus perfecting the tools they needed. For sculptors, it was chisels and hammers, for builders it was masonry tools, and for warriors it was swords and shields. Thus bringing us back to our topic in present day.
The warrior is the second oldest career in the world. Mankind has employed warriors in militaries, as police, and as hired mercenaries since nearly the beginning of time. This vast reaching lineage of experience has offered the warrior a unique insight into developing some of the most perfect tools on the planet, and I’m here to personally tell you that we have done well at it. For the sake of keeping things streamlined, we are going to use Glock handguns when we refer to “weapon” from here on out. I have spent the last decade relying on my weapon to not only provide freedom and security for myself and others, but also as my main source of income. I have not held a job in my adult life that did not require me to carry a weapon. My weapon is my defense tool, and the tool of my trade in order for me to accomplish the specific task that I have been given, whatever level that may be. Much like generations of warriors before me, I have spent thousands and thousands of hours perfecting the skills required to properly utilize the tool that has been assigned to my trade.
Now, some of you out there in the “industry” love to believe that since our tools are firearms, that we are the best at utilizing the tools of our trade. This is a phenomenon that in my opinion, plagues the firearm industry and puts a bad taste in a lot people’s mouths that are not your normal “gun people.” Guns are cool, and because we know how to use one, that makes us more important and better than other trades. Let’s stop that shit right now. We are not unique, we are not special, and we are sure as shit not better than someone who utilizes different tools for their trade. For that matter, just because you have 100k subscribers on your YouTube channel where you post videos shooting in your back yard or at your local range, does not make this your trade. Just because you went to a weekend NRA course and you spend Sundays teaching people at your local range how to shoot paper for $100 a pop does not make this your trade. People dedicate their lives to their trades. Thousands upon thousands of hours of training and practical application are spent so that people become masters of their trade. Surgeons spend a decade of learning, training, and practice so that when they slice you open to save your life, they do not commit even the smallest of errors that could in turn, end said life. As elite warriors, our trade is no different. We dedicate years of our lives to perfecting our usage of our tools, so that when the time comes, we execute its application flawlessly. Much like a surgeon, the smallest of errors in this operation will certainly cause severe consequences. Let’s say you show up in my hospital for an operation, even a minor one. I walk in and you say “how many of these have you done?” and I respond with “None, but I watched it on YouTube and I went to a certificate bestowing course over the weekend.” Food for thought….
For a surgeon, their tool is a scalpel, or any various other type of surgical equipment. Scalpels are strong, sharp, perfectly designed tools that a surgeon relies on for his trade. He knows that his scalpel will not let him down when he needs it, but do you think he throws it on the ground and steps on it ever? A seamstress utilizes specific needles for specific stitching, and she knows that with proper application, her needles will always work for her. Do you think when she’s done she tosses her needles into a bin and guesses what kind of shape they’re in next time she needs them? Just because our firearms are built tough and designed to work in questionable environments, should we take advantage of that? I’ll be the first to tell you that Glocks run, no matter what. I have run them in the worst conditions you can imagine, and when you pull that trigger, that weapon operates. But that doesn’t mean that we take advantage of that fact and brag about how shitty we treat our tools like it’s some sort of wannabe operator badge of honor.
Weapon maintenance is DRILLED into you in the military, to the point of being extreme, but there’s a reason for that. It’s to show you the importance of properly maintaining the tools of your trade. There are thousands of scenarios that could cause your weapon to malfunction, do you want it to be because you were an asshole and neglected to treat it properly? Out of those thousands of scenarios, you can control only a few of them, so why would you not give yourself the advantage?
Stepping on a firearm to prove a point is asinine. It not only shows stupidity, but blatant disrespect for the tools of our trade. We do not spend thousands of hours and years of our lives perfecting our trade to do stupid shit to prove points. Yes our weapons are built tough, yes they are designed to be beaten up, but they are not made to be disrespected and neglected. Surgeons, seamstresses, chefs, cobblers, mechanics, pool boys.. All respect their trade and the tools that make them experts at it. We should be no different. Take care of your weapons, respect your weapons, hell, even baby them if you want, because one day when you need to rely on it, do you want to be relying on a tool that you metaphorically and in some ridiculous cases, literally, walked all over?