A contrived identity constructed out of a pastiche of symbols co-opted from bohemian movements of the past, and then reassembled and repackaged. Yet, unlike bohemian subcultures of earlier periods, the hipster lives by no common creed, ethic, or collection of political beliefs. Nor does the hipster offer a unique form of art, music, or literature as groups such as the Beats, Hippies, Yippies, or Punks once did. Rather, the hipster is driven by an effort to cultivate an identity as an end in itself, a persona that will presumably distinguish the hipster from their despised, and over-generalized concept of “mainstream culture.”
Hipster psychology is born out of experiences of rejection during childhood and adolescence as well as the resultant inability to conform to contemporary social standards. The hipster, as a psychological self defense mechanism, constructs an alternative perspective on culture and identity as a response to their subjective experience of social failure and emotional pain. Rather than accept their own shortcomings at face value, the hipster cultivates a self centered world view whereupon culture, religion, politics, and society as a whole are at fault for all that causes dissatisfaction and frustration. Furthermore, the hipster believes that his or her non-participation in “mainstream” life serves as a form of subversion itself, as well as proof positive of their intellectual enlightenment rather than an obvious demonstration of their failure to adapt. Because arrogance is the shadow of shame, the hipster converts his or her social incompetence into an attitude of superiority, and his or her failure into a disposition of pride.
Consequently, hipster culture presents an “alternative image” that attempts to counter, parody, mock, or even satire their concept of mainstream culture while providing a safe environment that, from afar, collectively gives the appearance of a movement. Thus, hipsters make it their practice to flaunt the photo-negative image of their idea of popular “suburban” culture. For example, if the average person in the suburbs shops in malls, the hipster will buy their clothing in second hand shops. If (over generalized) suburban men drive state of the art sports cars with large engines, the hipster may drive a modest Volkswagen or an old, very undersized subcompact European car such as an early seventies BMW, or better yet, ride a fixed gear bicycle with a sticker exclaiming “One Less Car.”
Because the Hipster loathes above all things to be seen as conventional they, as a rule, don’t work. According to existentialist orthodoxy, “one is what one does.” As a result, the hipster does nothing. The hipster’s lack of participation in any type of career, at least on the surface, functions as an attempt to avoid being characterized as "mainstream." However, upon deeper examination it isn't hard to discover that the hipster lacks the requisite skills to do anything purposeful anyway. Rather, for the hipster, one is as one "seems." And the hipster is very adept at being able to "seem." Seeming requires collecting symbols both material and intellectual and proves much easier on a frail body and psyche than actual work. This is particularly the case when parents help around rent time, if the hipster doesn't already own.
Because the hipster’s life is a lie that they tell to themselves (and don’t believe themselves) they demonstrate a high degree of instability and mental illness which will often be treated by psychoactive medication. Often hipsters will merely self-medicate, particularly if their parents don't pay their COBRA. As a result, hipsters will eventually exhibit behaviors that are truly alternative until they face the fact that their subculture is an elaborate buffer from their fear of non-acceptance and failure.
Dylan: “Man, I’m so sick of my dad’s whole patriarchal disdain for any sense of leisure.”
Josh: "Yeah, man, tell me about it; I hardly ever get back up to Greenwich anymore for that reason.”
Dylan “Hey bartender, we’ll take two Pabst Blue Ribbons please.”