For this segment of society "the search for the authentic is positioned as the most pressing quest of our age," writes Potter. This urge leads to those things that have earned the most anti-mainstream adjectives like local, organic, artisan, indie, all natural, underground, sustainable, free trade, slow, holistic, green, and so on. Yet, that ideology, that quest for the authentic, is the very thing that causes the world to seem so unreal and staged. . . .My puzzlement with the weird status-consciousness of the anti-status crowd began in early adolescence. As an Aspergers-y 13-year-old, I marveled at the faux rebellion of older teenagers, who resisted conforming to adult expectations by conforming to teenage expectations, thereby only confirming adult expectations in a roundabout way. Everyone cared very much about not being seen to care.
People can’t stop themselves from competing for status. It is branded into the side of the brain before you are born. As a primate, status hierarchies are a part of life, and when you remove yourself from the competition in the mainstream you just join the competition in the counterculture. As long as there are clusters of people bent on avoiding what is most popular, within those clusters people will compete for status through conspicuous consumption of art and fashion, music and movies, furniture and gadgets, signaling to insiders the quality of their taste or the ingenuity of their search for the authentic, and signaling to the outsiders that they are not one of them. Whether you are a Juggalo in Kentucky or a Kogal in Tokyo, the internal affairs cool police are always on the prowl for posers.
I understand all this much better now -- wanting to fit in is too fundamental to our social primate heritage for us to ever escape. What I feel in myself these days is a sort of triple consciousness, in which I assert my individuality by refusing to try to be different because that would make me like all the hipsters, while nonetheless feeling in my heart that I am somehow different, while realizing that this is self-deception, because it is my very desire to be different that most makes me like my contemporaries.