Monday, August 2, 2010


(You can click this to make it bigger if you like)

[Image description: a drawn comic in which I stand facing a lanky college guy. The guy is holding a cigarette and wearing a T-shirt which reads "I am totally not a hipster". I am holding a microphone, and a speech bubble indicates that I am saying to him, "May I have a moment of your time to ask you about irony?"]

This is a comic that I did about the challenges of interacting with people at college. Many college students, especially (but not exclusively) people who might be identified as hipsters, are really into irony. They are so ironic that they can even manage to be sincere in an ironic way. I'm not quite sure how that works.

Like a lot of people on the autism spectrum, I can have problems telling when other people are being ironic. I'm pretty good with plain old sarcasm (when someone says one thing but mean the opposite), but I can't get the hang of the meta-irony that hipsters use. Sometimes I have to ask people "What did you mean by that?" or "If you were going to express the same sentiments, but use words that were true, what would you say?"

This creates all kinds of awkward situations because people really aren't used to being asked these kinds of questions. One classmate began laughing, rolling her eyes, and exchanging looks with her friends when I asked her to clarify an ironic comment. And often, when I ask people what they mean by something they have said, they tell me that they don't know. This leaves me wondering: Do people really not know what they mean by what they say?

Do I fail to understand hipsters because they don't understand themselves?

Will other people ever make sense to me?


  1. some people don't deserve to make sense to you... that is to say, a lot of them seem to think they are too good or too cool to clarify what they mean therefore you don't need to waste time and energy flattering them by giving what they say so much importance.

    when you ponder them, the hipsters have won ;)

  2. I think.. as somebody who is 20 years older, and maybe not much wiser... the hipsters, as you call them, are probably not incredibly smart. So they may not understand the language that you ask them to clarify, at least not well enough to clarify it. That was my experience with college, anyhow - until I started talking with honors-class friends.