Here’s a thing that happened to me a little while ago. I saw two hipster kids waiting around at the T station. One had those thick, ’70s style wide framed glasses and a neon fanny pack, the other had a dirty mustache and a washed out vintage t shirt. “Uugh, typical,” I thought, until I heard them talk.
“I can say my name backwards and forwards. B-R-I-A-N! N-A-I-R-B!”
“So? I can too! And I can multiply!” the other exclaimed. They weren’t hipsters. They were mentally disabled (1, 2)
There’s a lot of things I wonder about kids today. By kids I mean people my age and five to ten years younger than me.(3) Young adults, really. Mainly, why the hell would perfectly normal people want to look, well, retarded?
I get the appeal of vintage clothing. I wear it all the time. It’s beautiful, it’s made well and it’s usually it’s one of a kind. But there’s a difference between wearing a cute vintage skirt and dressing like a heroin addict from the 1990s.(4,5,6) Those same kids they all ride those stupid fixed gear bikes and make it point to tell you they are better than your because of it. They also all have super expensive iPhones and if they don’t, they’ll make it a point to let you know that. Flip phones are so uncool they are almost cool again. It’s kind of amazing.(7)
It’s a mystery that I think I’m finally starting to understand. The ’80s and ’90s were the time we all grew up. A time when things were fun and happy and largely stable for most of us. I even get the appeal of the imitating the times before them, the stupid ’70’s glasses, and the girls that dress like strippers from the 1940’s(8) or the dudes that dress like chimney sweeps from the 1800’s(9). We’re nostalgic for a time when things…moved…slowly.
I might just be speaking for myself, but I’m desperately grasping for something that feels like it has meaning, or used to at least. In this age, specifically the last ten years, technology and culture have been set on hyper speed. Records have been around for about a hundred years, tapes lasted about twenty and CDs well, they’re still around, but who uses them anymore? There’s a new phone every five minutes, plus, every size, shape and color of laptop and tablet imaginable. A convenient slew of products and services that do nothing but create the need for more products and services. Oh yeah, and Facebook has taken over fucking everything.
The fact of the matter is that some of us are being left behind. What I’ve noticed is that people five to ten years my senior are doing quite well, but people my age and younger, well, that is quite different.
Our generation, whether we like it or not, is destined to be poor, for now at least. No amount of college education or grad school or more college or more grad school will save us.(10) The middle class is going the way of the polar bear. Not the cute and cuddly polar bear you see on National Geographic. That sad polar bear floating on a melting iceberg that those unbearable clipboard-environmentalists-that-you-run-away-from-because-hey-I’d-like-to-help-but-I’ve-got-no-goddamn-money-so-why-don’t-you-go-bother-some-fucking-tourist, keep talking about.
This brings me back to the iPhones we can’t afford, the stupid bikes we ride and the appeal of vintage clothing. The world is moving forward and we are standing still. Many of us still live with our parents. If we’ve got a fancy phone or laptop someone else has probably paid for it. Fifty years ago most of people’s annual income was spent on the necessities; food, clothing, housing, etc. Now? There’s still all of that, plus phone, cable, internet and shitty yet expensive electronics that only have a two year lifespan. The 24 hour a day accessibility and 100% transparency. Services we’re are all expected to have, lest we wish to remove ourselves from society completely. We never asked for this, we’re forced to accept it and we can barely keep up with it. Why bother trying so desperately to move forward, when its just so easy to move back?
What we’re grasping for is something real, something tangible. As a generation what none of us ever had the luxury of was stability. The economy, the war, our useless college debts, the fact that if you look at a laptop or iPhone the wrong way, all of your information, your life, really, could be lost in the blink of an eye. I think the thing I like most about having an actual date book and journal is that they are real physical books, made of paper. The main selling point being that they won’t just decided to spontaneously combust one day.(11) Seriously, you have no idea how stoked I am about that.
Admittedly, I’m kind of a luddite but I don’t think what I’m getting at is untrue. It’s easy to dismiss someone who is struggling, especially when they don’t particularly want what they’ve been given. Why not dress like you did when you were nine, when right now, as an adult, all you want to do what hide in a pillow fort with a flashlight? The world is big, scary and unwieldy. All that ridiculous old clothing, the fake bravado, the self-righteousness, it’s like carrying around a security blanket. But what’s the point of carrying around a security blanket when it doesn’t have six gigs of memory and an a Google maps app built into it? Truthfully, I don’t know, but it certainly feels good.
Uugh. Kids today.
1. This wasn’t the exact conversation, but it was something along those lines. Either way they were waaaay to enthusiastic about their lives to be hipsters.
2. I Googled the shit out of the polite way to say this and I honestly have no clue what the the correct way communicate it is. I apologize in advance, white people with too much time on their hands.
3. For frame of reference I am in my frighteningly late twenties.
4. Look guys, I think the Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” campaign was as hilarious as you do but that doesn’t mean I’m still gonna wear the t-shirt I got there when I was six.
5. However, you can purchase that t-shirt from off of Etsy for a mere $70. You dummy.
6. See? http://www.etsy.com/listing/90866151/wendys-wheres-the-beef? You people disgust me.
7. The Ciiiiiiircle of Liiiiiiiiiife!!! #EltonJohn #TheLionKing #hashtag
8. I might be guilty of this on occasion. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
9. They’re out there. I went to college with most of them. They now all live in Brooklyn.
10. I’m speaking from experience. I went to college twice and it hasn’t done much more than convince me that pursuing comedy is a good idea. And pursuing comedy is a TERRIBLE idea.
11. Unless I DECIDE to light them on fire myself. Depending on how frustrated I get with writing, this is entirely possible.