A few years ago, after working late one evening, I was walking past the office of a younger, much cooler colleague (most of them were) when I heard music playing. It sounded interesting, so I stopped in his doorway.
When he looked up I said something like, “Hey, I like that music. Who is that?”
“Oh, no one you’ve ever heard of,” he replied.
That, my kids tell me, is the very definition of the term “hipster.”
They don’t wear what you wear. They don’t drive what you drive. They don’t do hair the way you do hair. They don’t eat what you eat. I could go on.
My friend, who is a great guy, is also the quintessential hipster. I think he didn’t want to tell me the name of the band because he really liked them, and if he’d told me who they were, there were only two possible outcomes. 1) I would have heard of them, and he would have to stop listening to them, or 2) I would have started listening to them, and he would have to stop listening to them. Either way, if he gives me that band, he loses it.
That’s because I, of course, am not only not a fellow hipster — I’m not even remotely cool. I’m an old white guy who drives a GMC pickup made before the millennium changed. My jeans come from Wal-Mart. I still comb my hair the same way I combed my hair in my 8th grade yearbook photo. You can look it up, but please don’t.
He’s my friend and all, but we CANNOT listen to the same music.
I tell you this because just recently, I’ve identified a new kind of hipster: the Media Hipster. Whatever you watch on TV, they don’t watch that. Whatever you read, they don’t read that. In fact, wherever you might get your news, you can be sure they get theirs somewhere else — somewhere much cooler, much more accurate and much more shocking than the news you get.
The real news. The news “they” don’t want you to have.
I first encountered this particular type of hipsterism in another friend — a dear friend — back during the 2016 election campaign. We shouldn’t have, but we got to talking politics, and she dropped a few bombs about Hillary, the emails, the other candidates and the vast conspiracy theories swirling around our man Don Trump.
After hearing several “facts” I absolutely knew to be untrue, I just had to break in.
“And where are you getting all this?” I asked.
“Oh, no place you’ve ever heard of,” was the reply. “I don’t get my news from the sources everybody else uses. These people really know what’s going on. They’re not part of the media. All they do is cover up the truth and tell you only what they want you to know.”
“Wait-wait-wait,” I stopped her. “The media? You mean like the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal? ABC? NBC? CBS? CNN? Those guys?”
“Exactly!” she said. “You can never find out the real news from them!”
“You mean the ones with the journalism degrees, the ethics, and all the years and years of experience covering government and politics? The ones who vet their sources and go directly to people who have expertise in whatever field they’re covering? The ones who win all the Pulitzer prizes, whose work is carefully edited before it’s printed or broadcast? The ones who put their name on their stories and can defend every word in court? The ones who brought down Nixon?”
Somewhere in here she began to sense I might not be on her side. The conversation ended soon after, and we haven’t talked politics since. As I said, I love this lady, but she’s representative of exactly what was going on in the last election campaign.
Now, of course, it has come to light that Russian hackers were filling the American internet with untruths during that time, trying to divide and conquer the country they couldn’t bring down with conventional weapons. And it wasn’t all Russians — there were plenty of Americans who were eager to go along with it all. Some still are, although FaceBook and other internet carriers are finally starting to realize that if they’re going to be “publishers” they have to take a certain amount of responsibility for the content of what they publish.
Now I wonder if my friend, or the millions of others who got caught up in that 2016 “news” cycle, will ever truly admit they were duped? Probably not. I would, however, be heartened to see the “fake news” guys chalk up a few wins over a president who, on average, has uttered or tweeted 7.6 false statements a day since he was elected. Most, by the way, although proven false, are still fiercely believed by his loyal base.
But you know what’s really ironic? It was truth that brought down the Soviet Union. Once it became impossible for the government to keep people isolated and ignorant, it was no longer possible to perpetuate the myth that communism was the ideal system. They could see for themselves the prosperity, the richness and diversity of a free society, with democratically elected leaders in submission to the rule of law.
The internet played a huge role in that. How ironic that now, the internet has become the tool of choice for those who want to destroy the United States?
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)
The alternative? I’m pretty sure that’s what our enemies have in mind.
But you didn’t hear that from me.