How does one stand out, in a crowd that is constantly trying to stand out? If “standing out” is the norm, then “blending in” is the new standing out, because nobody is doing it. This is applied contrariness. It’s being different for the sake of being different.
There’s a simple coin game that models this fairly well. You and I are both given a coin. On the count of 3 we show it either heads up or tails up. If they are both tails, or both heads, I win. If our coins show opposite faces, you win.
Now for the theory to this game. If you expect me to play heads, you should play tails. That’s level 1 thinking. If you know that I know this, then you should play heads. That’s level 2 thinking. Now if you’re especially clever, and you think I’m clever, then you should play tails. That’s level 3 thinking. Etc. etc.
They anticipate our anticipations, and break them. They are non-coordinators and actively looking for the trends and then going against them. As soon as beards, flannel plaid, and thick rimmed glasses goes mainstream, they will switch to a new fashion. Hipsters aren’t dumb, they are actually really smart. They’ve been playing this game this whole time and we didn’t even know it.