Hype Culture


Anushka Agashe, Staff Writer

The beginning of 2019 brought many new things, but the most popular seemed to be the Airpod memes. While Airpods were ridiculed when they first came out in 2016, their image has recently done a 180° turn, now acting as a status symbol (or a flex, take your pick). So why did these headphones, that are as old as the iPhone 7, cost $160, and don’t even have a wire to keep them from getting lost, become so popular all of a sudden?

One possible explanation is the recent trend of hype culture. The Bagpipe defines hype culture as “a term used to describe a generation obsessed with finding the next big thing. It is a culture bent on excitement and adrenaline.”

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen Airpod memes. Whether it’s Airpod users claiming they “don’t speak broke” or just the subtle flexing of an iPhone screen with airpods connected, the internet collectively decided that Airpods were suddenly cool – right before Christmas.

After winter break, suddenly everyone had Airpods, and it immediately made them cooler than everyone else. This is just one example of how something that’s arguably overpriced and unnecessary can become a status symbol once people collectively decide it is.


Though Airpods are the most popular example of hype culture right now, another famous example of this trend is streetwear. It found its origin in hip-hop and skaters, but it has evolved into a billion dollar industry that spans countries, languages, and previously established companies.

Supreme, possibly the best known streetwear brand, has collaborated with brands like Levi’s and Nike, all the way to Louis Vuitton and Versace. Everyone from kids to supermodels can be seen wearing Supreme. However, Supreme releases limited quantities of all their products. Most people instead have to rely on the resale market, where a $40 t-shirt can go for $1000.

So why do people buy into this overpriced industry? Again, the answer is hype culture. A t-shirt with the word SUPREME across the chest doesn’t intrinsically have much value; rather, its value comes from the clout that we as a society have collectively decided it has.


There’s no arguing that sometimes we like things just because they have clout. It’s true of Airpods, of streetwear, and countless other items. While there’s nothing wrong with buying into hype culture, it’s important to recognize that these things largely only have value because society believes they do. The question is, what happens when we decide they don’t?