The Mac Davis Rule

Nobody Likes a Smartass

Existential status: it’s complicated.
  • Existential status: it’s complicated.

Dear Hipster:

At this point in my life, I have friends in their twenties, thirties, forties, and even fifties. Usually, I don’t think too much about the potential generation gaps that separate us. After all, I’m friends with these various people because of our commonalities, not in spite of our differences. However, the other day, a twenty-something friend of mine was complaining about some personal problem or other, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Wow, what an insignificant problem. Wait another ten years, buddy, and tell me about your problems then.” I immediately felt a twinge of shame for my supercilious attitude. More specifically, I thought to myself, “Oh, how nice. I’ve become the terrible, condescending person who annoyed the crap out of me eight or ten years ago.” But, then again, what’s the point in surviving your twenties if you can’t indulge in a little smug superiority during your thirties (or forties, or fifties, at least up till the point where life just sort of starts repeating itself, which I assume happens when you retire and you finally get to do whatever the heck you want with the rest of your life)? Please resolve this conflict for me: have I become a condescending asshat, or am I merely expressing the hard-earned authority of my station in life?

— Steve

As a preliminary matter, was it shame you felt, or guilt? I doubt your feelings stem from an innate sense of self-worthlessness, so I’d more likely call this “guilt.” Just sayin’.

Moving on. I can only speak for hipsters, so this may not apply if you and your friends fit into other commonly satirized social groups, including, but not limited to: brogrammers, basic white girls, dirty hippies, vegans, cowboys, and whatever you call those people who watch other people play Minecraft on YouTube. Seriously, if anybody out there knows if there’s a word for those people, please share it with me so that I may, in turn, share it with the rest of the world. Anyways, not being privy to the internal social dynamics of other groups, my insights are limited to what can be observed externally.

That said, I would not be surprised if these basic hipster truisms, and their syllogistic conclusion, applied broadly.

Hipster Truism #1 — Time Spent Being Cool Directly Correlates with Overall Coolness

The more, if you’ll permit me a euphemism, “life experience” a given hipster attains, the closer that hipster comes to establishing him- or herself as an absolute paragon of hipster coolness and savoir faire.

Hipster Truism #2The Mac Davis Rule

The temptation to lord one’s excessive coolness over those of lesser coolness is borderline irresistible.

Hipster Truism #3 — Nobody Likes a Smartass

No hipster likes hearing about, for example, how it’s “totally fine” to care deeply about homebrewing a perfect holiday IPA when you’re 26, but, by the time you’re 36 you’ll be over it.

Hipster Conclusion

Although experience produces legitimate coolness, insufferably lording that coolness over junior hipsters demeans the senior hipster in the estimation of the junior hipster, which negates the positive effects of the surplus coolness. Therefore, the smug (but entirely justified) superiority of personal experience is best constrained to some sort of internal dialogue in order to prevent forfeiting one’s hard-fought-for coolness. It appears you played this one exactly right, friend. Bravo.

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Thomas Coyne taught me something today. Thanks, Thomas Coyne.

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