ALA in Chicago brought many good things, including some tasty food and drink. It also brought yet another tedious article about librarians and hipsters and possibly hipster librarians, if there can be such a thing.
According to the article, “the librarian of the future (and, arguably, the present)…is not a shusher, but a hipster, only more tolerable.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean.
The journalist also “met four graduate library students from Indiana University [who] said that just that morning they discussed the rise of the hipster librarians,” making them possibly the shallowest conversationalists at the convention.
Because immersing myself in the concerns of fashion conscious young people is a tedious waste of time, I turned to the Urban Dictionary to try to figure out just what these hipsters are, and why some people can’t stand them and some librarians desperately want to be one of them.
I decided to take the top definition, because it had by far the most upvotes. It’s a hilariously smug and self-serving definition most likely written by someone identifying as a “hipster” whose lack of self-awareness is matched only by his resentment for other people.
Here’s what I found out. “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking.” That’s what we’re told, anyway. The rest of the definition depends on stereotypes and prejudice, but at least it’s “independent.”
I was reminded of a Woody Allen line from Annie Hall. “I’m a bigot, but for the left, fortunately.”
Supposedly “hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but what it actually means is that hipsters are very concerned with what “mainstream” people do. “Culturally ignorant” at best means unaware of or unconcerned with things hipsters think important.
Resentment of athletic people comes next. “The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered [sic] hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny,” writes someone who never recovered psychologically from being bullied by football players.
What’s odd is I know a lot of confident and “culturally-empowered” women, and a whole bunch of them are athletes.
The stereotyping then ramps up a bit more when we find out that “culturally-vapid sorority-type girls with fake blond hair, overly tanned skin, and “Britney Spears tube-tops” are not seen as attractive by cultured hipster males who instead see them as symbols of female insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of cultural intelligence and independent thinking.”
They could be written by a “cultured hipster male,” or ” a skinny guy who got rejected by cute girls in high school and now seeks his revenge on the Internet.” You decide.
There is at least a small appreciation of irony here. “Although hipsters are technically conformists within their own subculture, in comparison to the much larger mainstream mass, they are pioneers and leaders of the latest cultural trends and ideals.” Let’s all be nonconformists together!
Apparently some people don’t like hipsters. Now, it could be the arrogance, bigotry, and complete hostility to anyone not like them that’s so amply demonstrated by this definition, or – wait for it – it could be “feelings of insecurity and resentment in people who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class.”
Yeah, that’s probably it. Feelings of insecurity, because nothing says “I’m not insecure” like constantly fretting about how other people dress or what they buy.
For evidence, we get some more bigotry and stereotyping. “For example, a lot of anti-hipster sentiment evidently comes from culturally-clueless [sic] suburban frat boy types who feel that the more sensitive, intelligent, and culturally aware hipster ideal threatens their insecure sense of masculinity.”
These aren’t even frat boys, but frat boy types. Nothing screams insecurity more than trying to psychoanalyze a stereotype just to make yourself feel superior.
Okay, so the feelings of insecurity are from those “who are no longer a part of the cultural ruling class,” and the example given is “culturally-clueless suburban frat boy types”? Umm, what?
Disregarding the arrogance, bigotry, and stereotyping, we can ask the logical question: how can culturally ignorant people be insecure that they’re not part of the cultural ruling class? Does that even make sense? Since when have frat boys ever been concerned with whether they were part of the “cultural ruling class”?
It’s not just the insecurity of “frat boy types.” “Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can’t keep up with social change and are envious of those who can.”
Is there any evidence whatsoever that any human being on earth has ever been “envious” of anyone like this? This whole definition reeks of insecurity and jealousy especially by defining “social change” as “trendy stuff I like.” It’s not like we’re living through a revolution in this country. I think we can keep up.
Based on this definition and the obsession some librarians have with defining themselves as hipsters, let’s do a little comparison between hipsters and librarians.
Hipsters are apparently all about excluding other people to make themselves feel superior to the majority of people who range from indifferent to hostile. How does that mesh with the library ideal to serve everyone?
If the insecure and confused hipster of this definition worked in an academic library, what would he say if a tall, muscular college boy needed help on research paper? Would he even be able to contain his rage that athletic men exist in proximity to his sweeping bangs and skinny jeans?
And you know who uses public libraries a lot? Those “mainstream” folks that are obviously beneath contempt, what with their having small children and shopping at Walmart and not having the sense know how culturally backward they are and how envious of hipsters they’re supposed to be. So much for that public getting served.
It could be the Urban Dictionary definition was written by the worst example of a human being ever to identify as a “hipster.” I’m not going to make any more fun of the hipsters, because if this definition is representative at all, then hipsters have some serious psychological problems to work out. People that desperate for attention and praise deserve to be pitied, not ridiculed.
If this definition is at all accurate, the comparison is quite favorable to librarians.
Hipsters: people desperate to exclude other people from their tiny tribe and focused on what they see as the flaws of the mass of human beings so they can have a reason to feel like superior creatures.
Librarians: people who devote their lives to promoting literacy, fostering community, and trying to enrich the lives of everyone equally.
That makes librarians better people all round, and the “hipster librarian” an oxymoron.