Yesterday at work, another staff member and I took 4 girls on a walk around the gardens on campus because they’d earned “leaving the unit” privileges. The day was so sunny and warm and it was really pleasant to get out and sit among all the rows of vegetables. One of the girls on this trip is particularly sweet, and gentle, and laughs a lot. She’s in there primarily for running away from home a lot, and for substance abuse problems. But she mentioned her MISSING poster while we were on the walk (which she has a copy of hanging on the wall in her bedroom), and someone else mentioned that she looked really “emo” in her picture.
But let me also back up a moment and say that, apparently, being “emo” is a full-fledged lifestyle now among the young. They always call each other “emo,” or say “God, you’re being so emo right now,” or “That shirt is really emo.” I know what emo means, but I’m still a little unclear as to what, exactly, it means to these kids.
So this girl replied back, “I don’t really look emo, I look more Scene.”
So then I said, “Scene? You mean like s-c-e-n-e?”
Oh. So then I asked what “scene” means. As this girl was very inarticulately trying to explain what “scene” means, I said, “So, is it like a new way of saying hipster?”
No. Hipster and Scene are different. Oh.
“Like, Scence is like, Hollister and American Apparel-”
Then I said, “Oh, I thought American Apparel is totally hipster.”
Well, it used to be. Now it’s becoming more scene. Okay….
So the other staff member said, “So, hipster is just like super tight jeans and black hair and stuff?”
Yeah, something like that. Then the staff member said that things had gotten so much more complicated just since she was in high school, which wasn’t that long ago.
So I said that when I was in high school, emo was just a style of music (“Well, it used to just be music, but now it’s like, a whole thing with clothes and stuff.” – Client) that encompassed about 5 bands. I said, we had punks and ravers and they were all kind of hipsters.
So then I got a look like, “god, you just don’t get it,” and one of the girls said, “Nobody’s a raver anymore.”
Well geez, okay.
Then they got bored with the conversation and we left with my still having no idea what the difference is between Scene, Hipster, and Emo.
And this all followed on the heels of a conversation I had on Saturday night with a 31-year-old and 28-year-old friend about how we have no idea what kids’ cultural references are anymore. And while we’re all still very hip (duh) among our own generation, the next generation has a totally different idea of hip, and what they’ll all grow up being familiar with. Of course, we all intellectually understand this, but to have it so blatantly placed in front of you (as the three of us were talking about) is sort of sobering. We’re all totally okay with this, of course, but now I’m starting to understand how adults who were once really hip and maybe countercultural when they were young can seem hopelessly lame and out of touch to younger generations. Even though we all still think we’re way cooler than they are.