Geeks Vs. Hipsters

I live in a very hipster-friendly city. Austin, TX is teeming with coffee shops and trendy college students adorned in ironic fashion and glasses that are laughably too large for their face. It’s also one of the most technology-forward communities you’ll ever find. It’s home to Dell, Antec, Apple, AMD, and countless other technology corporations (and startups) making it Texas’ own version of Silicon Valley. In fact, Austin has been nicknamed “Silicon Hills” since the 90s when Dell became a leader in the local job market, but natives prefer to refer to it as the “Live Music Capital of the World.”

Either way, hipsters and geeks live here in harmony, for the most part. Our coffee shops are ongoing battle grounds where trendy college students spend countless hours updating their About.me page, sipping on what looks like a black coffee despite being ordered with an Italian phrase that you’re sure means absolutely nothing more than “black coffee.”

There is a difference between hipsters and geeks. While you might find both of them at coffee shops from time to time, leaching off of free Wi-Fi, you can usually tell the two apart by paying attention to some very subtle tells.

Fashion

Geeks wear glasses because they need them. That isn’t to say all geeks are burdened with terrible vision, but if one is wearing glasses, they typically have a sense of function about them over form. Hipsters can be found with glasses clipped to their shirt’s neckline, worn on top of their heads rather than on, or fitted in a way that you know right off the bat isn’t a pair worn for practical reasons. Those plastic glasses that look like window blinds would never, ever find their way into a traditional geek’s wardrobe. At least, not outside of Halloween.

Don’t even get me started on footwear. Why is it that I’m able to escape life without purchasing shoes that look like they cost more than my car, but these half-homeless looking hipsters walk in with torn clothing and shoes louder than an AC/DC concert? Really folks, what gives? I understand fashion is a big deal to many social circles, but geek chic generally doesn’t expand past a humorous t-shirt or a fancy laptop cover. Maybe I’m wrong?

Technology

This may be the most controversial thing I write in this article, but let’s get real for a moment. If you really want to pull off the starving college student making a living blogging about your love for exposed brick interior design, you might want to tone down your technology choices a bit. There are a lot of geeks out there that love Apple, but it’s pretty easy to tell when someone is sporting their MacBook Pro and white iPhone as a status symbol rather than a functional piece of hardware.

Geeks, in general, care about as much about brands as they do about synchronized swimming at the Olympics. Yes, it’s cool that it exists, but what does it do? Function over form always wins out when your passion about whatever it is you do is genuine. Being passionate about having an expensive piece of hardware or drinking an overpriced cup of coffee isn’t geeky, it’s hip. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, but there is a divide there.

Geeks vs Hipsters
From: Become Career

Activities

Everyone is different, so I’m not going to say that geeks don’t attend concerts or visit popular hangouts. Geeks come in all shapes, sizes, and interest backgrounds. The difference between the two, however, is what exactly the person gets out of these experiences. Are you there because you’re interested in what’s going on, or simply because you want to be seen there?

Why Labels Themselves Are the Issue

I know, I know, hipsters are going to be very upset about the implications of what I’m writing here. I’m not at all implying that the entire social movement (if that’s what you would personally choose to call it) is bad or self-serving in any way. The phrase itself has been thrown around to describe everything from a Mac user to a poet. Perhaps labels themselves and the importance of avoiding attaching one to someone is what we should take away from this.

If you feel in some way insulted by this article, you may be falsely assuming that I’m actually talking about you. I would like your opinion, though. What do you think separates a geek from a hipster? Are they more alike than either party would care to admit? Do you identify yourself as either a hipster or a geek? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Spectacles Glasses by Debbie Waumsley

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • sdeforest

    Hipsters are different from hippies. Time was other people called me a hippy (we never called ourselves hippies except as an insider joke). Occasionally I would be called a geek, which had not nice connotations. Today I am a senior, and do not seem to have a pigeon hole, but maybe geek comes the closest. I would feel comfortable in Austin.

  • LewiHussey

    Awesome article! It’s kinda funny to see this divide! :)

  • http://www.banelicious.com/ Matteo Pirelli

    Ehi wait Donnie Darko is an excellent movie if you put away the emo factor.
    Same for S Darko, mainly labeled as a piece of garbage, but it has one of the best photography and soundtrack I’ve ever seen.

    And I fall under the geek label, as per article. (Developing Android Apps right now on an HP Envy 17 running Ubuntu).

  • http://www.facebook.com/brad.tomlinson Brad Tomlinson

    I don’t think I am in either group. Is that good or bad?

  • qwarthon

    i do have new order and the clash on my ipod, but only because my dad had the mp3s sitting around, and he was actually there when that stuff was going on. so im not being trendy. im inheriting music from my parents

  • http://bkgcom.blogspot.in/ Bharat Kumar Gupta

    geek = smart being, there is no need to be a graphical stereotype about it, actually stereotyping anything is bad

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.czarnecki1 Dan Czarnecki

    If a lot of people that fell into either category read this article, they would get a better understanding of either one.

  • Ryan White

    True geeks are platform agnostic. Sure there are personal preferences but anyone that turns into a rabid dog when referring to a competing product or scoffs at someone without their “refined” taste in fashion or anything else for that matter instantly loses geek cred in my book… just sayin’.

  • http://twitter.com/uthmanbaksh Uthman Baksh

    Hipsters are annoying. I used to go to college with a few of them. I find their ironic sense of everything just irritating after a while. At first they were funny and witty with their irony but some just take it to a whole new level. Geeks are real. We wear tees of our fave movies/shows/music because we are passionate about them. As for Hipsters, they never heard of the movie they are wearing. Don’t believe me, hang out in Williamsburg. I would get laughed at for my fashion choices while they dress like the hobo I came across on the subway. I don’t drink beer because of my religion. To a hipster, beer is their religion.

  • http://twitter.com/qwertysucks Zain Siddiqui

    I don’t really care who or what you associate yourself with. It’s a matter of personnel preference.

  • scallawagon

    great article. enjoyed reading it. i’m neither a geek nor a hipster, it seems.