It's hipster to be squarester. (Paterson Clark)
It’s hipster to be squarester. (Paterson Clark)

The most alarming thing about the recently released poll from Public Policy Polling on hipsters is that 50 percent of voters 18-29 identifies as hipsters. I am pretty sure this is inaccurate, since actual hipsters would have been unable to select any options on the phone survey because they were using rotary land-line phones.

I thought calling yourself a hipster was the same as referring to yourself as a “humble, classy, witty, attractive, self-effacing delight to be around” — the instant it left your lips, you ceased to be one. But 50 percent of voters 18-29 polled by Public Policy Polling with (4.1% +/- margin of error) can’t be wrong!

Possibly some of the people who called themselves hipsters (10 percent of the overall total) were just New York Times trend writers who had recently gone to Williamsburg and rented a fixed-gear bicycle for a story. “I am a hipster now,” they declared, displaying their new shirts and murmuring a baffling quip about naming their children “Monsanto.”

But hipsterdom is about more than that. Hipsterdom includes the fervent denial that you are a hipster or think highly of hipsters. “I hate them, I hate them, those soulless ironic appropriators of cultural landmarks,” the hipster shouts, causing the porcelain owls on the mantelpiece to rattle and disturbing the ironic collection of portraits of Abraham Lincoln in sexy poses. To calm down, the hipster put on some vinyl records — only the hipster appreciates vinyl’s rich, warm tones – and crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Dumb hipsters, ruining everything,” the hipster adds, “I was into the ironic appropriation of cultural landmarks before it became mainstream.”

Overall, 77 percent of those polled said they were not hipsters, 10 percent said they were, and an additional 13 percent noted that they were not sure.

Another question asked “Do you think that hipsters make a positive cultural contribution to society, or do you think they just soullessly appropriate cultural tropes from the past for their own ironic amusement?” and a resounding 46 percent said the latter. No doubt this sort of broad definition added to the confusion of the 13 percent who “were not sure” they were hipsters. “I mean,” they said, “I definitely appropriate cultural tropes for the past for my own ironic amusement, but I wouldn’t call myself ‘soulless,’ exactly.”

What has become of us?

Our loathing for hipsters continues unabated, although we generally agree (73 percent) that they should not be taxed more for being annoying (save the IRS obstacles for conservative non-profits). Republicans dislike hipsters more than Democrats, although neither group is exactly gung-ho about them  – 98 percent of Republicans said they would be less likely to vote for a hipster, compared to 88 percent of Democrats. But 23 percent of those surveyed thought hipsters made a positive cultural contribution – and 31 percent weren’t sure. After all, hipsters have left their mark. Whom else would we blame for ruining good things? Were it not for hipsters, banjo music would not be nearly so prevalent, the Mustache would have retreated to its former station on the upper lip of William Howard Taft, and the stock of companies who design clothes to make you resemble a struggling 19th-century farmer would not be doing nearly so well. And I’m sure there have been positive cultural contributions too.

But the world has not gone entirely insane. Of those polled, only 21 percent think PBR is actually a good beer.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.