There are three basic levels of the hashtag.
There are the Jersey Girls, twitter followers and serious taggers, who actually know why hash tags exist, what they’re used for and genuinely use the tags to locate similar posts and conversations. They post prolifically in 144 character sound bites, with cute emoticons sprinkled in their text and perfect additions of stickers, text speak and bitly links. It’s fantastic and intimidating, and when you read it in your head it sounds so steeped in the voices of the poster (whether vapid, enthusiastic, sarcastic or faux sad) that it conjures up all sorts of ideas about them that may or may not be true.
That’s because it’s actually really hard to tell them apart from the second level of hash taggers – the ironic pre-hipster, the critiquer, the sarcastic ass. These taggers will use the hashtag to add content or tone rather than to categorise their post. They might use really long tags like #Imasarcasticdick or ironic misspellings as a way to lash out at the first tier taggers, like #lawl and #5eva. In my opinion, these tags are thin veneers covering a strong desire to participate. The serious hash taggers are connecting, after all. They’re having fun with each other. Their hashtags create a bond, one that the sarcastic dick making fun of them is excluded from.
All this bitterness precludes an eventual understanding of what’s going on. After the 500 millionth ironic hashtag, the ass transitions to tier three- the hash tagging hipster. This tagger is somewhere between loving it and feeling either mildly embarrassed that they do, or defiantly proud of it. It’s not cool to hash tag, you see, not with most people in the mid-to-late-20’s age range. But, once you’re in there and part of the club, it’s fun.
The transition is complete.
The first time I hash tagged, I’m 100% percent I did it ironically. And, I think I know why. There seems to be a polarity in the way my generation thinks about ourselves. On the one hand, special snowflake syndrome has convinced us that we’re perfect. Our narcissism is fed by Facebook posts, our carefully curated Instagram feeds and the brand awareness we cultivate everywhere we go. The reposts and likes on our Tumblrs and Twitter accounts validate our sense of self worth. We are mini television channels, the gods of our news feeds, and every opinion we bestow should be celebrated.
On the other hand, we hate ourselves. Our brand might be flourishing, but our real selves are pale in comparison. This is why we buy all the latest trends, obsessively combing through our little internet worlds for the best looks, the next great posts. It’s why I’m writing this article. Because, when we think about it, it’s just a bit more than sad. It’s desperate. And we hate being seen to be less than perfect. That’s brand erosion. That will kill our feeds. No one likes a loser.
That’s why hipster have such a bad wrap. The comments about the hipster are a form of socially acceptable self hate. Hipsters are desperate for love. Hipsters adopt eclectic fashions to be cool. Hipsters drink too much coffee in trendy bars, out of mason jars, and spend too much money on bad hair cuts.
Not us. Not me. I’m not one of those people. (I’m cool). I’m only doing this because, you know, the coffee here is just good coffee and I don’t care if it’s trendy. I just want coffee, you know. (Please think I’m cool). Also, here’s a picture of it. Because #lawl, and also #ironicfoodposts
Yeah, we’re not fooling anyone.
The thing is, I’m sick of self hate. I’m also just sick of hate. Why hate on hipsters when there is nothing actually that bad or harmful about just liking to post pictures of food? Or celebrating ridiculously full beards contrasted with perfectly styled hair? I don’t know why we need to hate hipsters in order to be seen as cool. I don’t give a fuck if anyone likes my hashtags. I don’t care if anyone wants to make fun of me for it. Because, the other day I hash tagged #randomactofkindness and three charities started following me, and I started following them, and now my Instagram feed is full of happiness and kindness and people helping each other. We connected. The negativity and self hate that spawns the critique someone else wants to fill their world with doesn’t bother me, but I do feel sad for them.
That used to be me. I used to be that hipster-hating person. But I don’t need that anymore. I love my generation, I love being happy and unapologetic about it. I love the things I love. It’s not about likes. It’s about wanting to talk about that spider I once saw, my latest obsession, my new fondness for pears but none at all for kale. It’s about self love.
So, I’m learning to love the hipster in me.
She’s a texture obsessed sensualist that enjoys vaguely uncomfortable body updates, pretty nature junk, critiquing her interpersonal relationship and making lists. She wants you to like her, but more importantly she likes herself. She doesn’t want to read anymore bullshit about hating on our own generation. We’re fucking awesome, with our quirks and our narcissism and our desperation. It’s all us. Learn to love it too.