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26 January 2015 @ 02:21 pm
Hipster intro  
I've definitely got a strong hipster streak. I've actually heard the term 'hipster' thrown around for ages before it started to sink in what most of its connotations were. I associated it mainly with a clothing style (which frankly, I find aesthetically appealing) and of course with a preference for non-mainstream music. Existing purely on their own, these seemed perfectly harmless of course, and I was never really impressed by the seething hatred of hipsters by practically everybody around. Gradually I caught on that although there are specific artists, fashions, and activities most often associated with 'hipsters', the main connotation is a fierce guarding of one's status as 'cool' and ahead of the curve, meaning you dislike mainstream music because you're too good for it, and you're so ahead of the curve you liked popular bands before anyone else, and you're definitely too cool to like anything with the slightest possibility of lameness to it so everything you do you do ironically, because it's cool to be ironic. So I guess the problem with hipsterism is being actively, aggressively insincere in order to portray oneself as a particular brand of genuine. The most common hipsterism tends to be associated with the nostalgia for mass media and pop culture either from the childhood of people roughly my age, or for things from before anyone was born.
But so before I figured this out, all I noticed was that it was cool to hate hipsters. If you displayed any hipster-like tendencies, or liked any hipsterish things, you were in trouble for maybe possibly being a hipster. Shame on you. You should be more careful about what you like, and why you like it, and how you talk about why you like it, you don't want to be a hipster do you?
So I recognize a lot of what I do is, of course, for status. I listened to Daft Punk's first couple albums in high school and college and then kind of lost touch for a while, and then last year (or the year before?) they had a mainstream popular hit. These are all facts, make of them what you will. Personally, I don't actually like their newer music, what I've heard of it, as much as their older stuff. Is it because you're more likely to like things more strongly when you're in high school? And/or that helped define my taste in music and their new stuff is different enough from their old stuff that it's not close enough to my taste anymore? Or maybe actually my taste has changed. If I convey this information in anything other than a completely neutral tone only when it is absolutely relevant to the topic at hand, it's hard to avoid it coming off as at least somewhat a hipster status grab. And generally when I would reveal something like this, it's going to be a little bit more value-laden, phrased and intoned in a non-neutral way. Because I *am* disappointed when there's a Daft Punk song but it turns out to be from post-Discovery. 'Aw damn,' I say, 'It's their new stuff. I liked their old stuff better. I listened to it all the time, but now people only know 'Get Lucky'.' This is unfortunate for me, because I got my hopes up to hear a song that I know every measure of and can't not dance to and have over a decade of fond feelings and memories and associations with. My experience of Daft Punk is, therefore, not the same as the experience of people who have not known them as long. I am not saying, 'You losers, I am cooler than you.' I am saying, 'Here is some information about myself that I feel explains a few things about this extremely narrow situation, but also most likely gives you some more hints as to my greater background and personality. I was a kid who was into techno as a teenager in the early 90s and 00s. This tells you something about me, both my age, what kind of music I was listening to since techno was different then, and my personality, since a person who listens to techno as a teenager is different from one who doesn't is different from one who listens to techno as a teenager now.' And frankly, I like that little persona. There's obviously much more to me, but the Daft Punk fan character is one aspect, and I find her endearing, and am hoping you will too.
And so there we go, I've gone from defending my statement as a bare innocent fact to admitting that I am preferentially revealing information about myself in the hopes of creating an image of myself in your mind, thinking it will make me more appealing to you. Probably maybe I would have phrased it differently, or not said anything at all, if I had a different prediction of what you would have thought of it. I do this all the time. It's most of what my brain is for, really. Assessing the incredibly intricate and subtle nuances of a complex situation and behaving in a way that will, by my calculations, with high probability produce a desirable goal, by sorting through my storehouse of knowledge, facts, and learned experiences. Because being culturally aware and having good taste are positive traits. Because if I like something, there may be a good reason for liking it, and maybe other people like it for the same reason and that means that we have something in common.

Well, I have several threads of thought that this can lead to. Originally I was thinking about status signaling and intelligence; but it also meshes with my recent worries over my activities and people's opinions of and feelings about me. I'll do a choose-your-own-adventure and each as a different post I suppose.