A week ago tonight, I posted the following in this space:
(quote) Do you think Geek and Hipster make sense as "opposites"? It's an idea that's fermenting in m'head...
replied shortly after, that he thought that a lot of hipsters were geeks, once upon a time, and maybe many of them still are.
The comment took me back -- so much so, that I didn't even reply to that point at the time (sorry, Neb). And it got me thinking that maybe "hipster" doesn't mean what I think it means.
So I looked it up in that infallible* resource of cultural definition: Urban Dictionary (the "hipster")
. And I was rather surprised (to put it mildly) that the top-rated listing was so glowing and appreciative of the hipster class (So no, I guess it didn't
mean what I thought it meant to the people defining it). That top review concluded:
(Quote) Anti-hipster sentiment often comes from people who simply can't keep up with social change and are envious of those who can. (unquote)
I wasn't really aware that "hipster culture" was a thing, really, until the last few years, when I started reading the word in the context of disability-rights blogs written by friends and friends of friends. Going solely by the use of "hipster" in these contexts, I came to define the word like this:
Someone (usually young and privileged) who professes allegiance to progressive culture and politics, but really, for whom the highest value is irony. People who tell racist jokes, for example, and then defend themselves by saying that they're really just making fun of the racists. And if you get offended, it's just because you're not intelligent (or "hip") enough to understand the irony and subtlety.
In other words, the central attributes of (what I have been thinking of as) "Hipsterism" is aloofness, and irony -- playing it cool -- holding the world at arm's length, and therefore, believing you really are superior to everyone who disagrees with you.
And then, recently, I happened to flip to the very end of that new sitcom "Happy Endings" on ABC (American broadcast). And the main cast were just arriving at a party they thought
was going to be a celebration of the 1980's... except, when they got there, it turned out the party was being thrown by hipsters, and all they really wanted to do was make fun of '80s fashion and music, not celebrate it (not sure which episode it was -- can't remember if there was a mention of zombies at the end?).
Anyway -- a little over
a week ago, I defined "Geek" like this:
...[G]leeful enthusiasm is what makes a geek, imnsho. And so, our "rattling on" about whatever has sparked our imagination comes across to our "fellow villagers" as inane babbling.
So it's on that
axis that I think of "Hipster" and "Geek" as opposites: The former is ironic and aloof (according to me) and the latter is gleeful and enthusiastic.
I can see how they're both on the same end of the cultural spectrum in terms of embracing intellectualism, though. But it's the attitude
that sets the two groups apart.
Am I way off the mark, here, definitions-wise? Have I been misreading context?
*in an satirical meaning of "infallible"