1910 Dating Advice: 2016 Edition

Remember when newspapers offered dating advice? Me neither. But sometimes those old-timey “This is what dating is like in the olden days! Weren’t they silly?” things pop up on Pinterest, Facebook, or other various social media platforms usually populated by older people wishing it was like the olden days (Quick question: is “olden” even a word? Seriously?)

But they weren’t the only people who were silly.

For example: hipsters. Everyone thought it was just a phase, but it looks like 1880s chic and something-press coffee is here to stay. I guess none of us should be surprised. There’s a counter-culture to every culture, and a counter-counter-culture to every culture, and millennial hipsters are an odd mixture of both.

I go to a small, private Christian university where hipsterism is alive and well. Before college, I considered myself a hipster, but now, based on the people I’ve met, I’m seriously reassessing. There are some people out there who have read every chapter of the Hipster Playbook. Just because you wear a sweater in 70-degree weather doesn’t mean you’re a hipster. Nope. It’s basically a religion.

How was I supposed to survive in a world of such seasoned hipsters, mid-grade yuppie that I was? I had to learn, and learn quick. Especially at a Christian college where “ring before spring” is not just a fun saying, but a lifestyle. I had to do a little bit of anthropological studying to figure out the mating rituals of these exquisite creatures, but here I am to offer you comprehensive dating advice, old-timey magazine style, of how to flirt like a 2016 millennial hipster.

1. Location. Before you initiate communication with anyone you desire to date, you have to choose the right environment. Your apartment by yourself is not an option, which already puts me at a disadvantage. Find an obscure local band (preferably that has several uses of the word “grassroots” in its Facebook description and a lead singer that blogs) and figure out when they play next. Arrive at venue, dressed in concert chic (not festival chic; there’s a difference). Don’t make contact with anyone at first; just stare down at your phone with furrowed brow until the opening act. Nod appreciatively along to the music of opening act, but don’t seem too invested – you don’t want to make it seem like it’s your first rodeo. After the opening act, say something vague about “their sound” to no one in particular. Someone is bound to hear you and possibly say something in return.

Alternative: If it’s early afternoon and you need to study, find a coffee shop. I cannot stress independently-owned enough. You know who goes to Starbucks? Dirty venture capitalists who are just trying to steal money and Wi-Fi from the little guys. Also, there will inevitably be cute baristas at any given independently-owned coffee shop. Walk up to the counter, give the barista a smile (but not a big one, just a small grin acknowledging their existence – you’re not clingy, you just want a drink) and take a second to look at the menu, even if you know what you want. Those baristas spent a long time writing out that menu on that chalkboard in perfect Times New Roman font. Appreciate the menu as its own work of art. Don’t say anything about the prices – only angry old men and suburban moms do that. Order something pretentious, like a cortado, even if you don’t know what it means, just so you can say the word. Don’t ask what it is; you’re looking to make friends, not enemies. Tip the barista (they spent a long time writing that poem on the tip jar too, so appreciate it). Watch the cute barista make your cortado as if he is making an absolute work of art (because in his mind, he is) and then ask for the Wi-Fi password. Then talk about how you are going to camp out there for the rest of the day and work on your novel (whether this is true or not). Proceed to do so, even if you’re merely scrolling through Pinterest the entire eight hours you remain in the coffee shop.

2. Dress. Dress is almost as important as location. It’s extremely important that before you dress, you know exactly what environment you’ll be entering into. “I-dress-homeless-but-my-parents-pay-for-college” dress is vastly different from “photoshoot in an open field during optimal sunlight” attire. I would recommend the more homeless route for everyday ventures like coffee shop hopping or wandering around the city taking artsy Instagram pictures, and a more “photoshoot” esque wardrobe for events like barista competitions and 16mm film festivals. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Choosing the right wardrobe is like choosing the right band to be your favorite – it has to be so incredibly calculating that it looks authentic. And that’s the baseline for your wardrobe choices as a Hipster. At all costs, it must be authentic. And even if it’s not you have to tell people it is. Remember: At all costs.

Make sure that, if you have a tattoo, your clothes reveal it, but only slightly. You don’t want the full-on tattoo showing like you’re some loose sorority girl on spring break – so tacky, right? No, you simply want a subtle hint at a possible tattoo. It’ll make people look twice, which is exactly what you want in the game of attraction. Make sure you only reveal your minimalist tattoos with vague meanings, not the portrait of your dog you had done on your shoulder after he died (it was very sad and we all understand). Then an attractive hipster will intevitably ask you about what it means. Have a scripted response available.

In general, you want to follow the basic rules of hipster dress: don’t wear socks unless you’re wearing Chacos, two types of denim is okay, either wear no makeup or a ridiculous amount, etc. My next blog post will be a 1300-word summary of what your eyebrows should look like. If you’re wearing long pants, roll them up to an inch above the ankle, no matter what the weather is like. This isn’t Edwardian England, ladies. We can show our ankles now. If you have time to dye your hair a color that is opposite your own on the color spectrum, add that as a finishing touch.

3. Conversation topics. Remember that hipster conversations occur either on or about social media. If you’re not on social media, you’re talking about it (“Did you see Daveed Diggs’ newest Instagram post?” “Did you see what The Atlantic retweeted?”) However, you might be of that breed of hipsters that goes on Facebook every three months and only follow your aunt and Barack Obama on Instagram because you’re “above that culture.” Whether you are of the first or the second breed, you will eventually have to use hipster buzzwords and phrases, like “doing life” or “Buzzfeed” or “paleo.” You will inevitably also talk about popular fiction, coffee, and architecture, even if you know nothing about any of the above.

Bonus tip: Say “authentic” as often as you can. It’s the icing on the cake, and a buzzword that eligible young men are always listening for. Everyone wants to date the girl whose Twitter bio says “authentic.”

Another bonus tip: People assume that all hipsters like things that “aren’t cool.” However, this is not the case. Hipsters like things that are slightly less cool than other things. They can’t stand Beyonce, but they love Saint Motel. They are all caught up on Game of Thrones, just like everyone else. The only things they read are on the New York Times’ bestseller list, but never the first one. Usually the tenth, because then they sound interesting. Keep this in mind when you go on a search for obscure things to develop an interest in. And speaking of developing interest, stay cool about it. Don’t be extremely passionate about one thing; rather, say that you “dabble” in a lot of things, but you’re still trying to “find yourself” (more buzzwords to add to your hipster dictionary.)

4. Make your move. You’ve found yourself a good environment, you are dressed appropriately, and you’ve struck up a conversation with someone who seems decent and misses the 90s as much as you do. What’s your first move? Do you ask for their number? Of course not. You go home and friend them on Facebook. If they accept you by that evening, they’re interested. If they do the next morning, they thought they had a good conversation with you but aren’t too invested. If it’s a few days, they’re either one of those every-three-months Facebook-checkers I talked about earlier or they’re simply not interested. They might not even remember you, but friend you anyway for “networking” purposes (another buzzword for you). If they friend you, you now have access to all their past information – including high school photos. Proceed with caution.

At this point, I should probably tell you that most hipsters aren’t interested in a relationship. They won’t tell you straight-out, but they’re afraid of commitment. They really just need some time, you know? They can’t settle down just yet. They haven’t quite found themselves. They don’t know what they want. Be prepared; all of the previous statements are things you will hear if you sit down for a good old-fashioned DTR. “I’m just really focusing on my art right now” is another one that might come up. So, you might as well disregard all the advice I just gave you and go back to your apartment and your Netflix original that’s not Narcos or Making A Murderer.

There you have it. A comprehensive, old-timey-style guide to flirting like a 2016 hipster and on your way to inevitably finding yourself in an ambiguous 21st-Century relationship. In fact, in a hipster sense, this entire post is ironic, considering that hipsters rarely read literature longer than a Facebook status.

And on that cheap shot, I’ll leave you to it. Go out there, and find that fish in the sea that belongs to you. Hopefully that fish is wearing a cardigan, even in the middle of August.

 

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