Chapter 29 Summary

Earnest Is Better Than Hip

Pausch believes he must always choose “earnest” over “hip” because hip is only for the short-term and earnest is always for the long-term. Earnestness, he believes, is underestimated and comes from deep inside, while hip merely skims the surface and has one goal: to impress.

People who are considered hip love parodies, but there is nothing timeless about a parody. It is the earnest person who creates something that will last for generations and is worth parodying. In fact, earnest people create the originals that hipsters feel the need to parody.

A Boy Scout who works diligently to become an Eagle Scout certainly qualifies as someone who is earnest. Any time Pausch interviews people for his research teams and finds a candidate who was an Eagle Scout, he nearly always tries to hire him. He knows there is a certain earnestness to him which will work well on his team and ultimately outweigh any tendencies toward hipness.

In truth, being an Eagle Scout is one of the few things a man can write on his resume at the age of fifty that happened when he was in his teens and it is still impressive. Pausch was an earnest young man though he never became an Eagle Scout.

One area of commerce that masquerades as hip is the fashion industry. Pausch has no interest at all in fashion, and that is why he rarely buys himself new clothes. In his view, the industry is based on the concept that fashion comes in and goes out based solely on what someone, somewhere thinks can be sold. Pausch finds that preposterous.

His parents taught him an important lesson which he adheres to throughout his life, and it does not apply just to his clothing (Jai can attest to it in the area of automobiles). The lesson they taught him is simple: buy new clothes when the old clothes wear out. That is an earnest way to live, but it is certainly not hip. Anyone who has the opportunity to see Pausch in his last lecture will be able to attest that he lives by this advice.

Pausch admits his wardrobe is far from being hip, but that does not bother him. Instead, he sees his clothes as being kind of earnest. Because of that, he is confident they will help him get along just fine in this world.