Many Brooklyn residents are seeking refuge from the
'hipster treadmill,' says one counselor.
'BROOK-ANON' PROGRAM TARGETS RECOVERING N.Y. HIPSTERS
NEW YORK (PCNN) -- A program modeled on 12-step recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is offering support services to weary Brooklyn hipsters.
The "Brook-Anon" program allows young, trendy borough dwellers the chance "to get off the hipster treadmill and reclaim their own identities," said Susan Murray-Keeler, a youth counselor and co-founder of the program. "We help them to confront the emptiness inside."
Like AA and NA, Brook-Anon asks members to share their experiences and make a series of commitments on the road to recovery. But the focus is not on substance abuse or spiritual growth, Murray-Keeler said. "We work a little bit more from the outside-in," she said. "We might start by asking a hipster to abandon a certain T-shirt line or groom themselves in a more traditional way."
About a dozen hipsters attended a BA meeting last week in a church basement. The introductions would be familiar to anyone who has observed a 12-step program.
"Hi, I'm Jill, and I'm a hipster," said a thin 24-year-old woman wearing a snug white tank top, well-worn jeans and chartreuse Pumas. "I can't stop trying to be cooler than everyone else. It was a struggle to dress plainly to come here tonight. I know it's unhealthy, but I'm afraid that if I leave Brooklyn, my life will be over."
The group leader, who asked not to be identified, responded with a comment about the relationship between consumer habits and hipsterism. "When is the last time you opened up a Land's End catalog?" he asked. The woman did not respond.
Few Brooklynites have actually completed the program, Murray-Keeler said. "It's so new, and these kids are so entrenched, but they know they need help," she said. "A few of them are almost ready to sponsor other people in the program, but it's slow going."
The problem, she said, is that other hipsters are often glad when their friends drop out of the lifestyle. Carson Agyar, a Brooklyn-based psychologist, agrees. When a person commits to Brook-Anon, the backlash is often strong, and it can be alarming, he said.
"Hipsters are a different breed. They're not supportive in any way," Agyar said. "If you're a hipster, and your friend doesn't want to be in the scene anymore, you're going to be pretty happy about it. It's one less hipster that you have to compete with."
The result is that people near the end of Brook-Anon's 12 steps often regress when they realize that most of their relationships were based merely on a shared appreciation for boutique consumer goods.
"I kept saying to myself, 'I loved these people, so why is it so easy to move on?'" said one 22-year-old man. "I dropped out of the program for awhile and really got hipsterish, just searching for an answer. But I never found one. I recommitted, and I've been clean three months now."
Murray-Keeler said the program might be extended to parts of Queens, as well as other cities.