The fake depth of a generation

I hate to be one of those people that set themselves apart from the crowd with self-righteousness, but I seriously struggle to relate with a lot of my generation’s ideals. In particular the epidemic of hipsters, the pseudo “female empowerment” trend, and the glorification of selfishness.

Hipsters are annoying – I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way – but it’s gotten to the point that I break out in hives at the sight of a handlebar mustache paired with a flannel and expensive loafers. So I did some investigative journalism for reasons concerning my health.

The hipster style is ridiculously expensive to upkeep. Much like bohemianism and hippies, the truth is you have to come from a place of privilege and a well off background to keep up the lifestyle where somehow “free love” pays the bills and puts food on the table. In the case of hipsters investing in fake vintage hair styles and clothing somehow makes that person magically capable of great depth, a good taste in music and enlightenment and it’s not just plain old materialism and trend following.

Hipsters hide under a guise of frugality, crusades of justice, and higher consciousness with their undercut haircuts and ironic tee shirts. But the truth is being a vegan and hating corporate America is lost in translation when you spend a quarter of your income trying to look like you go against the grain. That’s just called privilege. And maybe sometimes the reason music artists are underground is because they suck, and sometimes the reason artists are popular because they have undeniable talent. Basically, saying that you only listen to underground, unsigned artists doesn’t mean you’re aware of a different side of art that humanity is capable of.

There’s nothing affordable or relatable about spending your weekends at concerts and eating at Whole Foods every day – at least not where I’m from, where people actually struggle and develop a sense of depth from their interactions with cyclical poverty and truly being the outcast of a society.

America’s obsession with individualism as a culture has turned my generation into selfish, materialistic addicts of instant gratification. Of course the Internet and the explosion of marketing and advertising firms contribute to this as well. But we pretend that individualism is the only thing that separates us from crazy communists. There’s truth in that to an extent, but collectivist cultures actually have a lot of benefits – you see this a lot with indigenous cultures in South America, Africa and Asia.

Now, you don’t have to give up life in the west and go joining monks in the Himalayas or an obscure isolated tribe in the Amazon to reap the benefits of relying on others for support. Many companies have adapted business structures that encourage group-centered success like the Bound Together bookstore in San Francisco on Haight Street and Free Mind Media information shop in Santa Rosa.

Triandis, Brislin, and Hui (1988) examined cultural differences and found that, “[In] Western cultures: people enjoy more personal freedoms, take greater pride in individual accomplishments, enjoy more privacy, and live with more spontaneity than people in collectivist cultures. However, individuals in western culture are also suffering from more loneliness and depression, higher divorce and homicide rates, and are more vulnerable to stress related diseases.”

Triandis, Brislin, and Hui also say that in both cultures, people expect men to be socially dominant. Consider the fact that 93% of the world’s legislators were men in 1989 – men make up half of all juries but 90% of jury forepersons are males, and in conversation, men are more likely to interrupt, talk assertively, stare more, and smile less than women.

There are some benefits to not being completely individualistic. But one thing that’s true regardless of culture is that it’s a man’s world. Which is why I believe in female empowerment, just not the way I see most young girls doing it today.

I’m so sick of seeing girls post nearly naked picture of themselves with a caption stating that it’s female empowerment and self acceptance. No its not. It’s the same old sexual objectification that woman have been subjected to for decades, except now women are taught to seek validation from men and society by focusing on their sexuality only and then pretending that it’s a form of empowerment.

In media critic Jean Kilbourne’s four films titled ‘Killing Us Softly’ 1 through 4, she talks about how the media and ads portray women as docile, infantile, submissive sex objects that exist only to please the male gaze. She hits the nail on the head when she addresses the fact that just because a lot of women say it’s empowering to be portrayed in an overtly sexual way by their choice, it really has the same effects and consequences as a beer commercial with a submissive sexualized female.

So nothing has changed, and in fact sexual objectification has gotten worse for women, regardless of if people try to pretend it’s a part of the 3rd wave of feminism.