Hipsters: Big bushy beards and dorky glasses

While I'm in a ranty mood, I thought I'd attack another pet peeve: Hipsters. Yes, I'm officially old, and I'm maligning a well-maligned and indeed easily-maligned group. Get over it. Age has some privileges.

What are the distinguishing features of hipster developers? The common ones appear to be big bushy beards and those big retro glasses. Yes, there are plenty of other features, but those are the ones that get me.

Beards: Kernighan has a beard. Ritchie had a beard. Thompson has a beard. You aren't allowed to have a big, bushy beard, in the same way that an investment bank intern can't wear bright red braces and smoke cigars.

There's an exception for Haskell programmers. They're allowed beards. No, I don't know why.

Dorky glasses: Dorky glasses were last worn by NASA rocket scientists while they were getting mankind to the moon. If you're building a social network for people who like to take photographs of their food, you should not be allowed these glasses.

I guess what gets me is that geekiness has become fashionable. But to become fashionable is to become misunderstood and shallowly imitated. Geeks may be inheriting the earth, but don't look like a geek, act like one. Speaking as someone for whom one of his best teenage memories was what his transatlantic peers might call "math camp", I'd like to say stop it, you're not a geek.

And of course, I will be wrong. Some of these geeky-looking people will actually be genuine, proper geeks. You can't judge a book by its cover. One of my most pleasant, more recent discoveries (sadly upon his death) was that all-American hero Neil Armstrong was a pretty hardcore geek. No big, bushy beard for him.

Posted 2013-08-01.