A hipster I am not, and never have been. I might have been philosophically a hippie and a punk back in the day, and for years I was a Deadhead, but I always found myself annoyed by the trappings of people who want to be “in” and who worry that they might not be, because it is the essence of conformity.

However, there is a paradox in that trying to be like everyone else is like trying not to be like everyone else. I’ve long given up on trying to pin it down. To rebel is to conform, just as to conform is to rebel.

I used to wonder whether the whole thing could be reduced to a mathematical formula.

Only now, there is no need to wonder, because someone has done the math.

From “The Math Behind the Hipster Effect“:

If everyone always wants to look different than everybody else, everybody starts looking the same. At least, if you use a recently published mathematical model describing the phenomenon. And looking around here, it seems pretty accurate. Let me enlighten you with some math.

“The hipster effect is this non-concerted emergent collective phenomenon of looking alike trying to look different,” in the words of Jonathan Touboul, mathematical neuroscientist at the College de France in Paris, and author of the paper.

God, how effing tired.

How I don’t want to be like them!

(Shh! I had best be careful saying things like that, lest I fall into the same hall-of-mirrors trap into which they have fallen.)

Here’s the diagram.



Maybe the best way to avoid it is to ignore it entirely.

UPDATE: Many thank to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

But hmm

While I did not touch on the beard issue, I think it’s fair to point out that I grew a beard years ago out of financial despair — in the hope of gleaning sympathy from my at-the-time bearded creditors. The tactic seemed to work, as they let me walk away from a rather large debt. (Whether my beard was hip, straight, gay, or a form of toxic masculinity, I do not know. I shaved it off as soon as I could, for it made me look too much like Charles Manson, and frightened little girls on the street….)