Enough With The Crass Cel­e­bra­tions of Hip­ster Embour­geoise­ment

by | Jun 21, 2012

As a writer, I am a knowledge worker and member of the Creative Class. Which is to say, I am busy developing not only words that make meaning, but dollars that make ends meet.

That’s the deal with the Creative Class. Creative people gather in special places, and through the power of our collective ingenuity we create wealth for ourselves and the communities we call home.

But not so fast. “The Rise of the Cre­ative Class is filled with self-indulgent forms of ama­teur microso­ci­ol­ogy and crass cel­e­bra­tions of hip­ster embour­geoise­ment,” argues Jamie Peck, a geography professor and vocal critic of Richard Florida’s theories.

Freelance writer Frank Bures of Minneapolis shared that gem in Thirty Two, a new bi-monthly magazine for the Twin Cities. Like me, Bures was seduced by the idea that we aren’t alone in a world where writers are not highly prized. No, we’re members of a club. No, not a club, a class. Yes, we are in a class where we’re always learning and striving, and the future is bright.

Bures suggests that Florida “took our anx­i­ety about place and turned it into a prod­uct. He found a way to cap­i­tal­ize on our nag­ging sense that there is always some­where out there more cre­ative, more fun, more diverse, more gay, and just plain bet­ter than the one where we hap­pen to be.” Given how dreamy writers and entrepreneurs can be, it was an easy sell.

Bures also recounts conversations with Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk, on the topic. Bures calls her an “apos­tle of Florid­ian doc­trine.” Nevertheless Trunk points out, “If you want to look at a city that’s best for your career, it’s New York, San Fran­cisco or Lon­don. If you’re not look­ing for your career, it doesn’t really mat­ter. There’s no dif­fer­ence. It’s split­ting hairs. The whole con­ver­sa­tion about where to live is bullshit.”

Of course, “One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit,” notes Harry G. Frankfurt. Which makes me want to point to other popular tropes that are really just steaming piles of fecal matter.

How about “The Brand Called You”? Kind of rank, isn’t it?

Naturally, the Rise of the Creative Class and the Brand Called You go hand-in-hand, as digitally-empowered knowledge/thought/information workers are not only charter members of the Creative Class, but in many cases are also members of Freelance Nation. As such, we are more than human, we’re brands.

It makes sense to name the place where many of these shiny ideas are introduced and later trumpeted. Fast Company. Even the name of the magazine is inclusive (and exclusive) by design. When you buy and read Fast Company, you’re one of the Change Agents about to unleash an Idea Virus on the world and make a mountain of money in the process.

I’ve written before about the need for a slow web. Perhaps, seeking the camaraderie of slow company is also advisable. We need more than economic development to make our cities and towns vital. We need heart and spirit. Hold on…I think there’s an app for that.

Photo credit: Paul Jacobson