Too cool for the census
I’ve already posted about NPR’s survey of hipsters who don’t complete their 2010 Census forms in Brooklyn, but this piece from the Alaska Dispatch (a citizen journalism site) is too good not to republish here:
By Maia Nolan
Much has been made lately of Alaska’s lackluster rate of participation in the 2010 census. But it turns out there’s at least one demographic that’s significantly worse than Alaskans: Hipsters.
In the capital city of hipsterdom, the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., census participation is right around 30 percent — more than 20 percent below Alaska’s current statewide rate — according to a recent NPR report. The reason? Um, like, whatever.
“I guess it’s laziness and like, what’s the point?” a 20-something record store employee, Nate Stark, told NPR’s Scott Simon. “When it comes down to it, nobody wants to fill out like another form that’s just like getting sent to your house that really relatively has nothing to do with your life.”
Another Williamsburger, Jamie Lilly, told Simon:
“You know, on a personal note, maybe some people, they figure what’s the point to be counted if you don’t count for much anyway? If we don’t count, why be counted?”
Meanwhile, my fellow Alaskans, I think we’re missing an important opportunity to polish up our image. Outsiders might look at our bottom-of-the-barrel census participation rate and chalk it up to our being backwoods rednecks who can’t dig out of our mountainside snowdrifts in time to brave polar bear attacks and coastal erosion as we hike to the post office to get our census forms in the mail, or to our resentment of gummint intrusion into our gun-toting, aerial-wolf-hunting, pot-decriminalizing libertarian lifestyles. All of which just contributes to the perpetuation of the image of Alaska as a frozen wilderness outpost where people talk with Minnesota accents and only pick up a newspaper to swat away Russian spy planes rearing their heads into our airspace.
It’s time to take a clue from our retro-glasses-and-ironic-T-shirt-wearing brethren in the ‘burg. Clearly the hipsters are on to something here: We just need to come up with a really existential-sounding reason for the state’s low return rate. Like, what’s the point? We’re not too remote to participate in the census; we’re just too cool.
And if you think it’s ridiculous to imply that Alaskans have anything to learn from hipsters, keep in mind that hipsters have been taking style clues from Alaskans for years. We’ve always known that plaid shirts, bedhead and dive bars are cool; it just took them a while to catch on.