Why Hippies?

December, 10th, 2015

Hippies, Flower Children, Free Spirit. They certainly have this stereotype of being detached and holistic. When contrasted with the rest of society, I could reasonably say that Hippies just don’t quite fit in. They’re colorful, they’re stinky, and they’re spacy. They’re absent from supermarkets and airports. They travel in packs by van. I certainly can say that American Capitalist culture and Hippies don’t mesh. But why I ask?

So I enjoy causation and I believe, for the most part, that everything has a provocation for its existence. I think most of us would agree. I like to apply this mentality to hippies. Everybody has seen a hippie. But large cultural movements don’t just come from nothing. I’ve given this concept quite a bit of thought since attending a summer solstice festival in Seattle with my sister, a proclaimed hippie.

So where did the hippies come from? Did they migrate here from some holistic utopia? No. I think of my sister. My sister grew up in the suburbs to white parents in a stable home. When we were kids, we were very optimistic and excited for our futures. I remember specifically when my sister’s ambitions were mostly aimed towards gaining a degree in dentistry. Not very hippie. I noticed a shift in my sister’s mentality when, in the 2007 recession, my dad lost his job and my sister was forced to attend a small liberal arts college rather than the university she had her hopes set on with a dentistry track. She harshly took it out on my parents and she went through a bit of a crisis. That’s when I noticed a change in her aesthetic, her look. She started wearing tie-die and smoking weed. She listened to strange music and replaced her ceramic horses in her room with jade plants and pinecones. Most importantly, my sister started meditating and proclaiming her relationship with nature. She even went on what she described as a “spirit” journey where her and a group of her friends hitchhiked to Oregon for a summer. My sister, in her 17th year, transformed into a hippie.

So I wonder, do most hippies experience a similar phenomenon? Do they turn to these holistic practices and contradict their culture (parents) because of some lost opportunity they thought they once had? I looked at the hippies in the 60’s and I would say that the 50’s looked like a pretty optimistic age to be brought up in. So maybe the hippie counterculture is some sort of response? A response to stress? Something to ponder on I guess