Milennials and hipsters: the root of all evil
Yesterday, at Flavorwire, Tom Hawking declared that millennials have replaced hipsters as “the mainstream’s cultural punching bag of choice.” While I’m not so sure there’s any sort of hierarchy in terms of what subsection of society we feel like making light of, Hawking does hit on a key theme: the inevitable shaking of heads at youth and young-adult culture and robbing them of their relevancy. I was instantly reminded of this excellent piece by Charles Jensen from back in December over at ARTSblog which declared that “‘Hipster’ is a term co-opted for use as a meaningless pejorative in order to vaguely call someone else’s authenticity into question and, by extension, claim authenticity for yourself.” In the process, Jensen said, we marginalize the next crop of talented, creative artists and leaders by segregating them into “lesser” groups. I was also reminded of this excellent satire that made the rounds last week:
While I’m a bit old for the millennial tag, I went through my share of it as a “slacker.” We were always slackin’ off, listening to Pearl Jam and hanging around the mall in our flannel shirts. Slackin’ here, slackin’ there. In hindsight, was I as ridiculous as the adults in my life thought I was? Maybe, but so what? As we get older, we forget those curious first steps into the broad ocean of cultural influence we experienced as youths, finally freed of the same old tired crap our parents liked. We forget that young adults make easy targets for the rest of establishment culture. And just because the rest of us don’t get it or can’t hang with it is no reason to make fun of it. Long story short: quit making fun of hipsters and quit making fun of millennials. Let’s focus on building jobs for them instead, slackers.
Do universities need libraries?
An interesting discussion played out over the internets this past week between two scholars from the area. Jack Weinstein, assistant professor of philosophy at UND, and Bill Caraher, a professor of history at the same. Caraher argued that, in the face of looming budget cuts to UND’s beautiful Chester Fritz Library, the role of the university library is shifting away from a place for research materials as more scholars collaborate online. Weinstein, in response, countered that giving the university cause to dismantle the library allows it to shirk its mission.
The concern over the shifting role of libraries extends beyond the academy. Libraries in all contexts are struggling to find footing with the increased spread of knowledge online. As this recent Hyperallergic piece argues (alongside Caraher), the future of libraries will likely rest in their role as a community-oriented spaces intent on ensuring and broadening access to knowledge and providing a physical focus for it.
I loved watching this debate unfold, and I hope it continues. Plus, there’s probably plenty of meaning to be gleaned from the fact that it happened on a couple of blogs.
Image: New Holland Honeyeater (2011) © Gabriel Thomson, part of a new book called Beautiful LEGO, which celebrates everyone’s favorite building block and the multitude of creative opportunities it holds. More over at Colossal.