Recently I have been listening to indie music for a change of pace, and it strikes me that this genre provides perfect, lucid insight into the millennial white mindset.
Indie music is as much a psychology as a specific style; indie musicians see themselves as mediocre despite their best efforts, and in a perpetual state of nervous breakdown.
This reflects itself as a characteristic blend of a fundamentally “mediocre” sound of acoustic guitar, intentionally untrained sounding vocals, and “childish” sounds such as xylophone, except elaborately produced with high levels of instrumental skill and harmonic complexity. The very sound of indie is designed to scream in your face, “I did all this and I’m still mediocre!”
The “perpetual state of nervous breakdown” a.k.a. decompensated neuroticism is reflected heavily in the lyrical content, which includes lucid exploration of personal neuroticism, family problems, interpersonal failure and childish hopes, yet also references very “adult” things such as sex, drugs, pornography and socioeconomic stressors such as working life, taxation, expenses and the like, with occasional jarring use of swear words. The lyrical content of indie music screams at you, “I am immature and absolutely cannot deal with life as an adult.” #AdultingIsHard
Lastly and most importantly, they respond to these feelings by portraying them with a kind of satirical, self mocking exaggeration and a deadpan humor, and by romanticizing it all as “quirky” and “fun.” In other words, their sardonic self-deprecating wit reflects their fatalism about their personal inadequacy, and their romanticizing allows them to feel good about it despite how degraded it should intuitively feel, and their boldness about all of it serves the triple function of catharsis, cry for help, and signaling to others like them that they are willing to be part of their social support system.
This underlying psychopathology explains the political behavior of white millennials, who are altruistic to a fault yet harsh and unforgiving in their desire to destroy anything remotely reminding them of their superiors (successful, confident, morally clean, intellectually and socially competent, athletic white people). It is basically low self esteem, the religion.
The curious thing about all of this, especially in light of the notoriously accurate stereotype of “trust fund hipsters,” is the lack of objective evidence of actual personal inadequacy (unlike punk rock or other music with similar themes). Quite often these are people going to good schools with a lot of money, who are attractive and intelligent and popular. You could accurately say that these are people who are plagued by haunting, paradoxical self-doubt, especially pertaining to the future.
I would argue that this paradoxical, almost delusional self doubt is actually them perceiving at a semi-conscious level that their civilization is falling apart and as a result they basically have no future.
They realize that their parents grew up in a society where you could find satisfaction in becoming educated, building a career, being compensated appropriately before you were old and gray, fitting into a social structure or institution, making your contribution, and that the society their parents lived in was overall quite glorious and full of potential, whereas what they have inherited has none of these features — a “new normal,” if you will.
They realize that they will never enjoy either the economic or the social rewards their parents did, so they ultimately deal with it by growing their dad’s ugly 80s hairdo complete with handlebar mustache while turning their social circle into a never-ending group therapy session where they find ways to celebrate their hopelessness and existential misery. This is the trauma of the 2008 economic collapse burned into the souls of a whole generation, an event which irrefutably confirmed the nagging doubt that has plagued generations: YOUR CIVILIZATION IS IN DECLINE.