Last time I defended myself against the Hipster; now I shall defend the hipster and "ironic" living.
Every generation has had its placebo in order to drag itself from youth to middle age; in most cases, there was more than one. For instance, my father's generation was that of the Hippie, the Beat Nick, and the Anarchist--all of those not being necessarily exclusive. It was how you cope with the disillusionment of realising that your country is not the moral powerhouse that it was in the forties. When that curtain was dropped--right around the start of the Korean War--the youth of this nation began to turn away from the quaint, Christian moralising that had so well permeated the population for nearly two centuries.
Disclaimer: I am not trying to paint over any flaws, idiosyncrasies, or hypocrisies that existed in this nation. I am simply saying that--more than less--this nation was two parts constitution and three parts Bible since 1776, even if our founders and framers may not have been. Not exclusively anyway.
Back to it--in light of this revelation, the youth of my father's day took to drugs, sex, and rock and roll in a way to break down the social parameters that had been placed on them--making it okay to say, "Make Love Not War" and "Power to the People." It was very much the same way that his father's generation threw off the anachronistic ideals of workers' rights, Unionization, and Anti-Monopoly policy that had made it possible for giants like J.P Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and others to make giant, money raking companies that could generate so much wealth at the expense of the health and safety of those at the bottom.
For the millennials, the new coping mechanism is irony, and--much like Love and Drugs--we do not fully understand it, or its ramifications on our lives. Luckily, it does not have the long term physical effects of LSD, but irony--or rather constant ironic living--does, like any mask worn too long, have an affect nonetheless. Socially it affects you. I alters your own view into one of apathy, which--like those of the 70s, who tried to drink and drug themselves into cheer--makes for a much bleaker outlook on the world. And--it cannot be denial--so called ironic gifts are the worst sort of White Elephant idea ever! Just don't go to the party or skip out on your own name. You would be doing the world a favour.
However, I do not dislike ironic living, because--like I said--it is a means of coping with the stresses of this world as this generation makes its transition into adulthood, where we might very well forget all about our hipster past. And that is fine. Look back on these days and laugh, because--of all our coping mechanisms--laughter is still the cure-all that, though it is safe and free, is seldom used.
My last disclaimer: I do not mean to try and trivialize the strife of the past. Certainly, the long fought war for worker rights was one of such singular importance...Hippies? Sorry. You don't make that cut. But, in our time, the great struggles have increasingly gone to the arena of the mind. We think things out in ways that we could not before. Mostly, this is due to the physical fights being already fought years ago. Honestly, I prefer it that way. We shouldn't have to refight for healthcare just because, "Dammit! My Gran-Pappy did!" We should build on it, and whatever we accomplish should not be devalued because someone was fighting for something in a different way before us. To every generation, there are new challenges. Romanticizing the past only serves to distract. It is subterfuge. Avoid it at all cost.