Here’s a thing I’ve never understood: why do people put huge, shiny wheels on their otherwise crappy cars? My neighbor’s kid drives around on a Kia his mom gave him, and he put huge chrome wheels on it. I swear, he spent more than the car is worth.
I spent my Labor Day weekend, or at least part of it, brunching with friends,. Anyways, we were having a perfectly nice brunch, where I got about 50% hammered on Bloody Marys because it’s a long weekend and I can do whatever I want, but the conversation around the table got stuck in a kind of rut about the Kaaboo lineup. It was really weird, because everyone had a phone out reading off the bands that would be playing, and we were all talking about which bands we wanted to see least. Now, to me, that seems somehow perverse, because isn’t the whole point of paying hundreds of dollars to see stuff you’re into, not to avoid the entertainment? And it really got on my nerves that we were having this whole, irritating, hipster breakdown of stuff that literally could not matter less. And yet, at the same time, it felt somehow super important to have the conversation. How can that be?
Is it just me, or is Pacifico legitimately more delicious than many microbrews and craft beers? Why must people talk down to lager beer?
I’ve got a theory. It’s a good theory. It explains why any given person does or does not do any given thing.
Jeremy Bentham always said humans are basically self-interested; that they act only to avoid pain and seek out pleasure. Thomas Hobbes took it a bit further, saying we are all borderline animals who would murder each other over trifles if government didn’t intercede. Aristotle and Kant would probably say we’re basically virtuous when we act in accordance with our better nature. Maslow said we just want to be the best humans we can be, in our individual capacities.
The Hipster says we all just want to be cool.
You want to be cool. Your friends want to be cool. Your mom wants to be cool. I’m already cool, but if I weren’t cool, I’d totally want to be cool. The need to be cool explains every irrational human behavior. How else can you possibly understand those infuriating people who take every opportunity to tell you how they don’t like the Beatles?
They’re trying to be cool. Everybody likes the Beatles. Even people who don’t know who the Beatles are like the Beatles. My dog likes the Beatles, and he’s a colorblind kibble glutton who spends his days grubbing up the sofa and plotting new ways to steal bread from the kitchen.
If anything, this demonstrates the truly enlightened state of the modern hipster, who is more in touch with his basic humanity than someone who dissimulates with pretensions of “not caring what other people think.” When you get right down to it, that’s the ultimate all-in bid for coolness. Every other human behavior is but a variation on that theme.