Much anecdotal information has been given on the possible communication breakdown that may occur when a "normal person" tries to communicate with a hippie. Many of these stories provide some amusement as people sympathize with the plight of the poor person who must communicate with the hippie, but after everyone shakes their head and laughs, is anyone any more enlightened? Beyond the jokes about Ben & Jerry's, The Grateful Dead, and marijuana fueled cheeto eating episodes, (all of which can be learned through a quick searching of The Onion's archives for "hippie"), what can we say, in general, about the problem with communicating with hippies?
The answer came to me fairly quickly, after just such a head-shaking experience, and some reflection. Lately, I have been having some rather complicated problems, as problems tend to be. Some hippies asked me what my problem was, and not wanting to get into the details, I declined to answer. I declined to answer because I got the feeling that a solution would be offered to me in the way of some cannabis and listening to Phish. With less stereotypical hippies, there may have been another solution offered, although it would have been offered with the same simplistic smugness. And that is when I discovered the key to hippie communication: instead of trying to appear more sophisticated, as a hipster would, a hippie will always try to appear less sophisticated, but will do it with the same level of smugness that hipsters deliver their sophistication with.
For example, here is an example of a comment, and the theoretical response it might receive from a hipster:
Person:"I really think it would have been an interesting experience to work for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s!"
Hipster:"Roosevelt's faux socialism retarded the social development of the American worker in the Great Depression. They had a much more authentic, working class oriented system in France. And also in the Czech Republic.
And, that is annoying. But, this is how a hippie would respond:
"But don't you see man? You can't just work like that for money. You should be doing that type of stuff, with art and learning about people, for the sake of doing it!"
And this is the key to the hippie communication style: a type of condescending in reverse, where no matter how complicated a person's thoughts or problems get, there is always a way to bring up a simplistic answer to dismiss them. For example, any argument about the use and abuse of marijuana can be settled by pointing out that it is "natural". Any debate about lifestyle decisions can be settled by people "following their bliss". People's characters can be ascertained by stating that they are a "cool dude". And so on!
I am sure that many people reading this right now are realizing that they have, indeed, finally pinned down the mystery of hippies.
What is more interesting to note is where this attitude comes from. It is not always associated with stereotypical hippie culture. In other words, just because someone listens to Phish, doesn't mean they think like this. And just because they don't, doesn't mean they can't indulge in smug simplicity. However, there does seem to be a correlation between the two. I don't know why this is, whether it has to do with intensive self-strengthening of each other's value system, or is perhaps related to the usage of certain drugs. I don't know if it is the second, since marijuana is used by many sub-cultures, many of whom do not exhibit this syndrome.
Armed with this knowledge, our next question is how to get around the wall of smug simplicity that hippies show towards us. It can often be ignored, as you just smile and nod every time the word "natural" is used. It can sometimes, for your own amusement and others, be mocked. If you end up in a situation where you are taking orders from a hippie (it could happen!), stronger methods, ones that I can not yet guess at, may be required.