On Simplicity

May 13, 2008

Simplicity Does Not Mean Living Like a Hippie

Filed under: Simplicity in Theory — Serendipity @ 5:00 am

I hate the word hippie. (Hippies themselves I like). People who don’t have green values tend to throw the word out to negate any point you might be trying to convey. It’s similar to the word “prejudiced” in that once it’s thrown out there, there are few productive ways to continue to the dialogue without having it turn into a lecture.

The word in its current form is meant to conjure up images of people in peasant dresses, tie dye, and Birkenstocks. These cartoonish people are unwashed, unrealistic, live in ridiculous communes, dance around yurts, and eat soy bean curd all day. Like all effective stereotypes, this image allows others to dismiss the group in question since they’re clearly living on a different plane that no person living in the “real world” of mortgages and insurance can be expected to emulate.

Do these stereotypical hippies even really exist? Well, having spend significant time in both Davis and Santa Cruz, California, I can confirm that they do. Do they consider themselves to be “hippies”? It depends on who you ask. Do they represent the larger movement of green living and voluntary simplicity? Not so much.

If you studied the majority of people who considered themselves to be living a life of “voluntary simplicity,” I imagine that they’d look surprisingly like everybody else. I know that I don’t fit the “simple” stereotype. I love big sunglasses and pretending to be glamorous. I dream of exotic vacations and good liquor. I like to spoil my dog. I long for a home that’s impressive and elegant (though I settle for “not ugly” and “relatively clean”).

Does this mean I’m not a true simplifier? Well, that’s another topic altogether. What it does mean is that living simply isn’t about cutting yourself off from mainstream values and desires–it’s just about focusing on the ones that you actually care about while letting the others fade into the distance. If that means I need to find a communal yurt to dance around, that’s fine–just let me know where to ship my shoe collection ahead of time.



  1. Seriously think we were separated at birth!

    I’m a simple girl in my simple ways, but I can be oh so glam too and love spoiling my doggies.

    I’ve been called a hippie many times and it actually makes me laugh. I kinda like it. Makes me feel down to earth and in tune to the world around me.

    Comment by Emily — May 13, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  2. Found you by way of Girls just wanna have funds. I’ll be bookmarking this site after this. I gotta admit, I don’t mind the Hippie name (mainly because it makes me giggle. I was brought up as a military brat and am pretty far off the sterotypical hippie path) all that much anymore. Frankly, trying to put a label on myself would take far too long, and use up too much space. If folks wanna try and box me into a “type” I let them. As long as they think they have me tagged, they are underestimating what I can do.

    Best part of folks thinking they have you boxed?

    Blowing their perceptions out of the water in a manner that leaves them staggered. Hey, I may be a married “grown-up” lady, doesn’t mean I have to act like it!

    Great site with some interesting blogs.

    Comment by Jenna — May 14, 2008 @ 9:28 am

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