The hipster paradox (in addition to being a pretty solid band name that I'm calling for myself) uses some pretty interesting math to explain a phenomenon anyone can observe: When people are trying not to be mainstream, they inevitably seem to end up looking just like all the other nonconformists. Our society has conformist subgenres of nonconformity — goths, hipsters and punks, just to name a few — and that seems counter-intuitive.
But as mathematician Jonathan Touboul explains in the video above, this paradox can be explained with math models.
When Touboul first tried to create a model of how trends emerge — particularly among individuals who are trying to buck trends — he ended up with a whole lot of noise in his results. But when he tweaked the model to delay how long an individual learned about new trends (which is realistic, given that we aren't all directly plugged into every minute change the fashion and music world makes), he found that people would quickly reach a consensus of what the "not trendy" cool new thing was. And it would become a trend.
So basically, hipsters are hipsters because they're too slow to spot things that are truly out of the mainstream. By the time most nonconformists find the hot new thing no one has ever heard of, lots of other people are discovering it as well.
And that's how you end up surrounded by guys with mutton chops drinking PBR and listening to the same indie record on repeat.
"I think people are here just doing whatever they love to do," an anonymous young man in heavy-framed glasses told Reuters in the video above, blaming the media's need to categorize people for the existence of the "hipster" label.
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