Controversy of the Hippie Movement and Modern Youth Activism
Like the beatniks before them, and the hipsters that followed (not to be confused with their modern counterparts), hippies took the United States by surprise and produced mixed feelings in the populace. From fascination to ridicule, the 60s era of American history is veiled in controversy, largely due to the emergence of this once highly popular youth movement.
Originally, the hippie culture was built upon the new age of music, sexual revolution and simply having a great time. A lot of it carried strong anti-war sentiments and a pursuit of peace, so pacifism could be added to the list as well.
The 60s Hippies
Due to their disrespect of authority, unorthodox lifestyle and frequent drug use, hippies were often scathed by the government and people with conservative values. It also gained a massive backlash following its initial increase in popularity, becoming a caricature of itself due to a shift from political youth activism and standing for ideals to blatant slacking and detachment from the world as it is.
Because of that, people who still stood for ideas of peace, love, unity and freedom often chose to separate themselves from the hippie image. The movement may have lost its traction in the beginning of the 70s, but some of its culture is still present today in certain people and communities.
Legacy of the Hippie Culture
The occupy movement, hipster culture and other well-known modern phenomena owe a lot to the original hippies. They often share the same sentiments and ideas, as well as a unique approach of non-violent protest as means of achieving their goals.
However, the new movements and modern hippie subculture also share a lot of the same shortcomings that their predecessors had. Namely, a person who calls themselves a hippie may not necessarily represent the true nature of that name, instead mimicking their unique fashion and certain lifestyle choices.
Hippies in Name Only
In the day and age when nothing seems to be set in stone, young people struggle to establish their identity, as well as understand what that process entails. As a result, they may feel compelled to have labels like “civil rights activist”, “hipster” or even “hippie” attached to them without a thorough understanding of what the term actually means.
To them, hippies are nothing more than a certain type of clothing, fascination with flowers, smoking weed and scathing authority. Sometimes, the visual image is the only thing that they represent, while still managing to refer to themselves as “hippies” or members of another closely related modern youth activism movement.
This has spawned a huge amount of controversy over the hypocrisy of hippie movement and their actions. Thanks to the Internet, the examples of people calling themselves hippies, social youth activists or other terms embarrassing themselves spread quickly and are passed down by everyone, harming the reputation of the respective movements in the entire world.
Real hippies are characterized by their lifestyle that aims to achieve freedom and be disconnected from the system that imposes too many rules and conditions on a person’s free will. They value the freedom of body and mind, which is one of the main reasons why drugs are so prevalent in this culture.
They try to remove anger from their lives by introducing love and peace. Hippies also disregard hierarchical norms of the society and ideals of unity and equality are usually very dear to them. This may sound familiar to members of similar movements that have emerged recently and are still very active today.
Sentiments and Ideas of Modern Hippies
The hippie movement is broader than it often appears, both today and back in its heyday. Those who live with more rigid ideals aimed at the outside world may not be the most vocal anymore, but they stand by what they believe in and persist in the face of opposition.
All modern hippies share a common sense of déjà vu, the nagging feeling that we as a country are entering a very unpleasant era that we once proudly walked out of. At a time of large-scale armed conflicts and uncertain economic situation, there are people who don’t believe that the government and people in power do right by their citizens.
Hippies and Youth Activism
Youth activists unite under one goal to attract attention to these problems and do their part in resolving them. Historically, the hippie movement has also rallied around various environmental causes.
It includes green energy initiatives, opposing mass pollution and other goals to preserve the nature in its current state. All of these issues have gained a new wave of supporters in the recent years due to the inevitable shortage of fossil fuels and new discoveries regarding global warming.
Criticisms of the Hippie Movement
In the modern day and age, most of the criticism of the hippie subculture arises from the fact that they no longer represent an active movement for promoting peace, love, unity and freedom. They may not necessarily call themselves hippies anymore, but their ideas are aligned with the former hippie movement with surprising precision, and manage to be just as ineffective when it comes to global action.
It can be best showcased by the recently rising trend of “slacktivism”, which involves people who raise awareness of global causes through social media and other online means. They do that by sharing content with their friends, whereas their actual actions accomplish nothing to further that actual cause.
That is perhaps the most glaring reason for the widespread criticism, and the people behind it are not entirely wrong. However, it should be noted that there are still many people who are true hippies at heart, even though they may not refer to themselves as such, or follow the typical “hippie fashion”.
Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what kind of reputation the term has, as long as there are people who live up to its ideals and continue to promote a lifestyle of peace and understanding everywhere they go.