First of all, it’s worth pointing out that it’s always possible to buy something. We are the ultimate consumer society – now, we are even consuming socially, online.
I love modern culture as much as I loathe some aspects of it.
Soon, babies will be born with smartphones automatically attached to their pudgy pink hands, ready to document their first smile, first word, first day at school. Then it will be shared on social media with the gawping world.
We’re not given any easy alternative to this way of living, because that doesn’t serve society’s model of consumer capitalism, but some of us care enough to battle it out and try to find another way.
You can reject the prevailing way of living, but I’ve found this tends to get you labelled as a “hippie” – “The sixties are over!”.
This has never happened to me but I’ve seen it happen to people I know, and observed it in the news media, film and television.
I believe society subtly uses words to dismiss ideas or ways of life before it’s even been possible to engage with them.
Counter-culture hippieness doesn’t fit with the ethic of consumerism, which is now even more pervasive than ever, so it is dismissed as irrational and unproductive.
What is a hippie?
Before we make the case for an alternative culture, we should define what is meant by the word “hippie”.
Society suggests that being a hippie is a rejection of mainstream culture by favouring alternative or bohemian lifestyles, mainly revolving around “freeloading” or believing in “free love”, being a “leftie”.
Urban Dictionary defines it as:
A Hippie is a person who was raised under the ideological system that came out of the tumultuous 1960’s in North America and western Europe. They are either of the flower-child/baby boomer generation or that generations’ subsequent offspring. They possess a core belief set revolving around the values of peace and love as being essential in an increasingly globalized society, and they are oftentimes associated with non-violent anti-governmental groups.
I personally believe being a hippie is equated with conscious, ethical living – in all spheres of life. We choose how we relate to ourselves, to others, society and the environment.
But there are many problems associated with this way of living – most of them to do with the difficulty of going against the grain.
Being a hippie is logical
So, money doesn’t make us happy?
It’s a fact so blindingly obvious as to be laughable, but we forget it all the time because we’re wrapped up in the business of living.
It’s also painful to admit the truth, to submit to the agony of self-reflection, once we’ve been chasing money for a long time.
Money is mesmerising, just like lust and power. This is a fact. It makes us forget ourselves. You could argue that money even confers elements of both lust and power.
It is also a fact that we should love everyone rather than hate or fear them. Love begets more love, obviously, and is good for us.
Not taking more than we give to the world seems like simple logic. And promoting love rather than war? That too.
So is it being a hippie to love everyone, and believe that we all are “one”, in the metaphysical sense?
I think it’s probably just idiotic to believe otherwise.
You quite obviously can expand the mind, and we are connected with nature. Does believing in the concept of a self that survives the years, that can and should be developed and protected, make me a hippie?
To be honest, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t be a hippie.
Is this just normal?
If you decide to reject money as an end goal and instead embrace being loving, then decisions about life can be made on the basis of their practicality, ethicalness, aesthetic appeal and with consideration for self-development.
I suppose this is called growing up. Now I’ve managed to get and keep a job, I’m less concerned with basic survival, and am now moving on to think about how to live and flourish.
I believe channeling my inner hippie is a big part of that.
Some people are dismissive when I speak of my attempts to eat ethically, desire to help save the environment, and support of small businesses – especially those of individual artists.
But I still talk about my goals because I believe that we should all try to live without the masks and reach out to each other. Buying more and more stuff is not the way.
Does that make me a hippie? If so, then fine. I am a hippie.
Problems with being a hippie
Choosing how to live is a difficult business, and sometimes it seems easier just to submit to the way society wants us to live – stay slumped on the sofa, gorging on prepackaged TV and food. When we’re not doing that, scamper up the career ladder like trained monkeys, and fall in love with the first person to give us the time of day. Get married, pop out some kids, retire and die.
Seems easy enough. Seems harmless enough.
However, an absence of an idea is still a decision, it is not nothing. If we aren’t choosing a positive idea then we are still promoting negative ideas. We must submit to self-reflection and choose what we really believe.
Is not wanting to submit to preconceived labels, or wanting to fashion your own mode of existence in the limited time we have, kind of hippie-ish? Similarly, if I believe endless consumption can’t satisfy me, and use alternative cultural practices to support a functional life, like yoga, meditation and enjoy burning (endless) sticks of incense? Perhaps.
But I think labels stop us thinking, and critiquing, enabling us to dismiss things as uninteresting or unworthy of appraisal because it has already been ‘named’. Let’s not do it if we can help it.
If you want to learn more about being a hippie you could check out my other post about how people are quick to judge “New Age” practices. Or, find out about how your attitude towards experiencing pain can make you a better person.
Catherine Julianne is a writer and digital communications professional obsessed with the field of personality systems theory. She also likes drawing, meditating and being in nature.