The Mahoning Valley isn't exactly Portland. Or Brooklyn. Or any other trendy big city.
We don't have bike lanes, artisan food trucks, organic soda fountains or brew cinemas. Who knows if we'll ever get a Whole Foods. You'll probably always have to go to American Apparel in Cleveland.
We're just getting the whole mustache-finger-tattoo trend here. Somewhere, there are Eskimos tweeting pictures of themselves in thick gloves with mustaches on the fingers.
What is a hipster? Well, it's hard to explain. It's someone who is cool and trendy and socially aware, but only to the point that they want everyone to know how cool and trendy and socially aware they are.
Or, conversely, it's someone who goes to great lengths to avoid seeming like they want anyone to know how cool and trendy and socially aware they are. They take something that starts out unique and interesting and turn it into a logo advertising, "Hey, I'm a unique snowflake. Not that I care."
The TV show "Portlandia" is sort of a "you might be a hipster if ..." sketch comedy. The characters portray over-the-top hipster cliches in a city widely associated with the bespectacled, the artisan, the bearded, the hyper-local. The whole city seems like it should be paved with authentic barnwood.
One of the popular jokes is "Put a bird on it!," which makes fun of how arbitrary hipsterdom is - putting a bird on a shirt or a hat or a logo instantly makes it cooler somehow.
Characters take their lifestyle as the gospel. The show isn't mean-spirited - it merely wants people not to take themselves so seriously. You aren't what grass-fed chicken eggs you eat.
Everyone has hipster moments. You realize, "Oh my gosh! That porkpie hat makes me look like I'm trying too hard!"
Even if you love your porkpie hat and it was your grandfather's and you weren't trying to look like you were trying to wear a porkpie hat, you can still have a laugh at someone looking at you and possibly thinking you were off to your banjo lesson.
I'm not sure where I lie in all this. I have been guilty of wearing faux-prescription glasses. I Facebook my food. I worked at a community garden. I watched a bearded guy play a saw.
I've been called the H-word. I was quick to point out that anyone who openly advertises they still like industrial music as I do can't possibly be a hipster. Besides, I'm way too oblivious to ever monitor my own behavior.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying cool things. Some bands are revered by the hipster crowd because they're genuinely good, not just because they give you cred.
Buying local makes sense for the local economy, and it feels good to help small businesses. Artisan bread is good, ditto organic juice or trail mix.
But there's a line between things that are cool, satisfying, healthy and creative, and just putting a bird on it. Or a mustache.
You shouldn't let any hipster-stigma prevent you from being yourself, from liking what you like. Life imitates art, art imitates life; don't get too caught up in it, and you'll be OK. You're cool because you are who you are, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
While we aren't quite on Portland level yet, our area does have some cool, trendy things to enjoy. We have a food truck from Cleveland that rolls through every now and then. There are community gardens, farmers markets, food co-ops, crop shares and urban farming. There's vintage shops, like Greyland in downtown Youngstown, to find your kitschy furniture.
You can get locally made soap, candles, artisan popcorn and other goods at Gardner's Green Thumb in downtown Warren - and it has the much-coveted barnwood floor. Local eateries push local produce.
Thumm's in Warren is a great local bike shop. Flaming Ice Cube has all of your vegan munchie needs. You can knit in organized knitting groups with locally spun yarn. There's plenty of cool bearded guys in bands.
So here's to being cool the way you are. No need to put the proverbial bird on it.