We at Flyby appreciate a good ranking. There’s something incredibly satisfying about scrolling or clicking through bite-sized morsels of information to discover the best university in the world, the best residential House at Harvard, or the female celebrity who looks the most awesome with a beard.
The Boston Globe gets this. As part of its Dreamtown Finder series, which ranks the towns in the Commonwealth on various metrics, the Globe recently named Cambridge the most hipster of them all.
A red flag went up as soon as we saw the paradoxical combination of “hipster” and “top 10” in one heading. Rather than embracing such a ranking, hipsters would eschew it as part of the mainstream, anti-intellectual dribble they so try to avoid. And isn’t the point of being a hipster not to self-identify as one?
But even if we can get past this slight issue, the fundamental question of what exactly defines a hipster arises. How can one hope to quantitatively assess the many variations on these beanie-wearing, vinyl-listening, rooftop-garden heirloom-tomato-growing individuals?
Well, the Globe deftly sets forth its methodology for this ranking by pointing to a few simple data points.
One such measurement used is the percentage of hybrid cars versus non-hybrid cars. Cantabrigians may be environmentally conscious, but last time we checked hipsters are much more likely to be riding their fixed-gear bicycle or dragging their work boot-clad feet through the streets of Cambridge than driving even the greenest of cars.
Another measure is the number of “hip stores” per resident, which include Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. Oh no, no, no.
We’re pretty sure rule number one of hipsterdom is to steer clear of Starbucks. Why? It’s about as mainstream an institution as they come. Everyone goes there, and we mean everyone—sleep-deprived computer science students, tourists, your mother, and probably your grandmother too. Any hipster will tell you that Starbucks stands for all the values they disdain.
Yes, hipsters are much more likely to turn up their pierced noses at that caramel ribbon crunch frappucino and make a beeline for the hole-in-the-wall espresso bar (you’ve probably never heard of it) to enjoy a cold-brewed coffee made with fair trade beans from Sumatra.
Of course, the Globe will certainly be neither the first nor the last to compile rankings with questionable methodologies. And we here in Cambridge will continue to read them—ironically, of course.