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
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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.