How do we make mitigating climate change hip in the sense of people actually doing something about it? Yeah, they may post a few things on Insta or RT, but how do we get people to stop using leaf blowers, throwing their plastic on the street, and sitting around fake gas flames in a fire pit outdoors? I know all the hipsters, like, pretended to go to the #NODAPL protests, but how do you recommend people connect the dots?
This kind of puts me — alongside my hipster brethren and sistren — in a bind because, as I’m sure you’ve heard, not caring too much about stuff is kind of our sine qua non. It’s hard to get super fired up about anything when you’re busy maintaining a sufficient level of cool, ironic detachment from mainstream social problems. This is, at least in part, a coping mechanism.
By way of illustration, I picked up some dry cleaning the other day, and it all came wrapped in plastic bags. Sure, I dutifully placed those plastic bags in the recycling, hoping they wouldn’t end up taking a circuitous road to the landfill. But then I couldn’t help but think about how, if I had used up this much needless plastic in a single day, and there are some seven billion people on the earth doing more or less the same thing, then that’s a lot of plastic trash. The only way I saved myself from the paralyzing inevitability of global extinction beneath a vast mountain of garbage was by thinking about how, by the time it’s too late to stave off extinction, I’ll be dead, buried, and jamming with Zevon some place where I can look down and laugh at the poor humans paddling makeshift canoes across a vast ocean of plastic trash.
Notwithstanding the self-preserving need to make the serious jocular, when you look out at the world at large, the carefully cultivated image of the modern human can be ever so misleading. One might infer a deep and abiding concern for environmental issues based on, say, a person’s retweeting exposés on the devastation wrought by melting glaciers. False. More often than not, the self-portrait we show the world is a meticulously constructed patchwork of images and values chosen not for how they reflect what’s in our hearts, but for how they reflect what we want people to think is in our hearts.
But I would submit to you this is anti-hipster, an outright rebellion against jaded hipster irony, albeit a half-cooked one. Take a too-hard problem and treat it like it’s too easy. As you note, superficial sincerity drives true believers like yourself mad. So how to, for lack of a better word, weaponize these #thoughtsandprayers for mother nature?
Well, on the one side, you’ve got those of us who care too much, and deal with it by making a show of how much they don’t care. On the other, you have those who care too little, and deal with it by making a big show of looking like they care. Each willfully doesn’t see the wolf at the door. If you could somehow smash these two mentalities together, then maybe you’d find what you’re looking for.