Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity

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City Lights Books, Apr 1, 2006 - Education - 259 pages
27 Reviews

Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Books

When being a rebel is sanctioned by society, what is left to rebel against?

Hal Niedzviecki has a blunt message for the army of tattoo and piercing enthusiasts, bloggers, skateboard warriors, and anyone else walking around with the smug certainty that they are one of a kind: Individuality is the new conformity.

Niedzviecki's meditations touch on everything from designer religions to webcasts, from reality TV to the endless "Everybody Is A Star" platitudes of global pop culture. He unearths the amateur underground and shines a spotlight on the self-help industry, Hollywood, and mainstream media. The result is a smart, witty, and impassioned argument that shatters the you-can-do-anything pop myth and exposes the paradox of individualism.

"A blend of cultural analysis, reporting and memoir, Hello, I'm Special is full of sharp and funny observations (most of them somewhere on the spectrum from bemusement to rage) and is generally a bracing read." – Salon.com

“Hal Niedzviecki is truly special, but not in the mass market way. He is one of the wisest, funniest and most acute cultural critics writing today. A sure-footed guide through a surreal landscape.” – Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

"Equal parts Jerry Seinfeld and Thomas Frank . . . an equally gifted fiction writer and social critic, Niedzviecki in his new book gives us everything that makes his brand of literary genius so, well, 'special'. Breaking every hipster's heavy heart by identifying the shared cult of individuality underlying both mainstream and alternative cultures, Hello I'm Special makes an impassioned–and oftentimes hilarious–case for a personality that money just can't buy." – Tikkun Magazine

Hal Niedzviecki is the founder of Broken Pencil magazine and the author of We Want Some Too: Underground Desire and the Reinvention of Mass Culture. Hal's radio program, "Subcultures," airs Thursdays at 9:30 am (Toronto time). Hear it streamed online on the CBC's website.


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Review: Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity

User Review  - Cara - Goodreads

Seemed rather redundant. Talked a lot around points, but never really came out and said anything productive. Hal's favorite word is apparently "ersatz" as he uses it in almost every chapter I think ... Read full review

Review: Hello, I'm Special: How Individuality Became the New Conformity

User Review  - Katie Pesznecker - Goodreads

Big topic tackled in this book, which broadly argues that individuality is the new conformity. A bit wandering at times but I owe that to the nebulous nature of the topic and not author error ... Read full review


Hello Im Special The Rise of Nonconformity
Alone Together The New Conformity Challenges Tradition
reCreating the Individual PopCulture Conformity
Everyones a Star Pop Culture Invents the New Conformity
Crowd Control Conformity versus the Pop Promise
The Paradox of Individuality
Who Else Is Me? Finding Our Own Special Roles
The Search for Home Community Reinvented
Extreme Behavior Morality versus Celebrity in the Age of Special
Revolution Redux The End of Individuality?
On My Own at the End of the Road

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About the author (2006)

Hal Niedzviecki's writings on culture have appeared in newspapers and magazines across North America. He is the founder of Broken Pencil, a magazine covering zine culture and the indie arts. In addition to three novels and a story collection, Niedzviecki is the author of Hello, I'm Special and We Want Some Too: Underground Desire and the Reinvention of Mass Culture.

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