Towards a taxonomy for hipsters

Alright, I confess, I lead a cliché life. I like to cook large amounts of vegan food, I like to sew my own clothes, I hold degrees in philosophy, I try to “buy ethically” (and can afford to try), I am white and under 30, I live in a big city, … But what sort of cliché is it actually that I live up to?

My friends and me use the word “hipster” to describe this lifestyle, but this gets us into trouble quickly: We also use “hipster” for the apple product-buying marketing people who speak about their latest pitches in a café while enjoying their frappucinos. We type one people are obviously totally unlike the type two hipster!

Living in Vienna does make it even more complicated: The Viennese like to (and urge everyone else to) distinguish between hipsters and bobos. For those who are not acquainted with the later term: it is short for “bourgeois bohemian” and its main function is to highlight a contradiction in the sort of lifestyle it is used to describe. Well, I am not an actually-rich pseudo-bohemian, but I can see elements of that in my life, too.

Now, is this categorization important? Absolutely not. Is it interesting? I like to think so. I have been very well aware that my lifestyle is, to a certain extent, paradoxical: What good does, for example, buying a fairly produced phone do compared to the fact that I live in a society where everyone feels entitled to use up energy (that has to be produced, and thus causes environmental damage) for things as trivial as 24/7 phone use, blogging, you name it? But these contradictions would have been there independent of my choice of a lifestyle (as long as I stayed a member of my community largely construed). But the playful thinking about hipster categorization has made me think about paradoxical elements that are due to my choices, preferences, and lifestyle – and finally even about tension between my choices and wishes. When I go to a super traditional coffee house and sit among the journalists, the cosmopolitan people reading foreign newspapers, and the well-off, nicely-dressed people having a piece of cake, I want to belong there. When I sit in an alternative vegan-friendly queer café with feminist magazines lying around (like the one in the picture), I want to belong there.

Of course I can fit in in both worlds, and I can take turns. But not being able to make a choice where I want to belong more urgently still feels like a considerable tension. Now, is this interesting? At least for me it is. Is it important? We will see.


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