Harvard Explores Hipster Theory

“Mainstream is, like, so lame.” Photo via ThinkStock.

If you find yourself getting enraged whenever your amazingly idiosyncratic indie bands keep getting airtime on mainstream radio, then you just might be a hipster. If you were the first of your friends to wear skinny jeans, but now it seems that everyone’s walking around wearing sausage casings, then it’s looking like you might be a hipster. And if you feel frustration at the fact that your distinctive tastes are constantly being commodified by popular culture, then, yup, you’re probably a hipster.

Thankfully, the good people at Harvard looked into hipster theory, and learned that when hipsters feel like their tastes are being widely accepted, they’re more apt to give up their passion for their favorite music and other tastes and search for the next best thing. Their findings were published in a recent article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and summed up in a Men’s Health article published on MSNBC:

Kevin Lewis, lead study researcher and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Harvard, explains the science of why you’re a hipster: “The meaning of an indie/alternative taste rests not just in the taste itself — but also in being the only one among one’s friendship circle that expresses it,” he says. “If I like The Decemberists, and suddenly my friends start liking them too, suddenly I’m no longer socially distinctive. So this taste loses much of its appeal and I will run off in search of some new band to express my ‘hip’ identity.”

Lewis and his team looked at the Facebook pages of 200 college students over the course of four years, and found that people who shared similar tastes were more likely to be closer than those who seemed to pass tastes onto others. Which effectively proves the “if you’re just learning about it, then it’s already so over” theory that hipsters know all too well.