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The importance of being earnest

September 22, 2014

Like just about everyone it seems, I’m not a fan of the current hipster phenomenon. Which is perhaps odd because as an art-loving, op-shopping, cafe-haunting socialist and greenie these people should be my crowd.

But no, I don’t like hipsters either.

Not because I don’t like their bicycles and second-hand jumpers, their craft beers, black-board art and bush-ranger beards. I like most of that. No, what I don’t like is that true hipsters don’t seem to stand for anything. They seem to hide behind irony and cynicism so that they don’t have to reveal what they really think or believe just in case someone else might think it isn’t cool enough. “Do I actually like this brightly coloured second-hand wooly jumper with pom-poms? No, of course not, it is an ironic statement.” An ironic statement about what? A comment on consumerism? Are the faux-secondhand wooly jumpers that are now sold expensively, (presumably to hipsters who can’t quite bring themselves to buy from thrift shops), a comment on commodification? Where will this end?

At the other end of the spectrum are the earnest folk. The nerdy, non-ironic, intense types who proudly proclaim what they stand for, from political activists to sci-fi convention attendees, computer geeks to unashamedly bookish librarians. Earnest people follow their hearts and minds not other people’s notions of cool. Many of them love supposedly hipsterish things from fixed-gear bikes to organic bee-keeping. But they embrace what they love openly, not hiding behind a facade of irony. They reveal an honesty, integrity and self-assurance that is missing from the true hipster. These are my people.

And it seems that in recent years being earnest might even be becoming cool. While hipsters are almost universally hated, geeks are increasingly esteemed. And while I’m not sure that it is a good thing, or even possible, for geeks to be cool, I hope it means that integrity is beginning to be valued more.

Enough irony and cynicism already. Whatever you stand for, own it and be proud.

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