( Joe Whitson posted this on his blog, “The Curiosities of a College Kid.” I liked it so much that I had to steal it.)
I’ve been hearing the term “Hipster” being thrown around here and there by various people. I even recently hear someone refer to “Christian Hipster”. It is one of those labels that no one really can define or really cares to. Regardless of what a “Hipster” is, it has been applied to a group of people who are definitely not hipster, nor are they merely a subset. These people, myself included, are termed Folkster.
Folkster is a less well circulated term, probably because is it less aspired to. This could be due to the fact the largest population of genuine folksters are over the age of 70. So, in order to enlighten my readership, I would like to give my definition of a folkster.
Folkster: A person who is interested in and often pursues aspects of traditional, elderly, or “folk” culture. This includes, but is not limited to, folk music, folklore, folk stories, folk crafts, and hill folk.
Folkster interests are wide and varied, but I will list a few of my own to give you the idea. Basically to be a folkster interest, it must also be enjoyed by old people or young people over 80 years ago. Examples include pipe smoking, vegetable gardens, collecting mushrooms, playing bridge or backgammon, learning traditional instruments like the banjo, mandolin, or autoharp, jumping freight trains, widdling, discussing the civil war, reenacting the civil war, reading transcendentalist writers or, alternatively, illiteracy, distrusting or outright loathing the government, dancing jigs barefoot, hiding in the mountains or remote countryside, oral histories, dying languages, facial hair, playing the spoons, building cabins by hand on remote lakes, moccasins, pioneering, crossword puzzles, and shepherding.
Music is a large part of being a folkster. Popular artists include Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Iron & Wine, Nicklecreek, the Carter Family, Simon & Garfunkel, M. Ward, Fleet Foxes, and really anything collected by Alan Lomax.
Books could include On The Road, Civil Disobedience, Listening Point, Into the Wild, or any collection of traditional American Folklore.
There is one other trait of the folkster that I believe makes the folkster the true inheritor of the American spirit. This is the tendency of folksters to run away into the wilderness. If you show all the other traits of being a folkster, but never feel an almost overwhelming urge to just pick up and hitchhike out west or into Canada, then you are most definitely not a folkster. Urban Dictionary states that every folkster knows someone, if not themselves, that has left society to just live somewhere, like in the woods, hills, or on an extended road trip. I think this is absolutely true.
So, while I encourage all my readers to aspire to be themselves and not change themselves just to attain a label, if you do happen to be a folkster like I am, just remember this one tip: when you finally decide to just leave on a spontaneous whim, if you aren’t going to be prepared, run south. Minnesota can get cold and Canada is only that much worse.