Hipster Vs. Scenester Showdown

Ever since my sister brought up that she had never heard anyone use the word “hipster” before (saying that she had heard of “scenesters”) I’ve been curious about the distinction between hipster and scenester and what they mean in our modern vocabulary.

My recent move to New York has reinvigorated my own internal debate abotu the whole “Hipster” versus “Scenester” thing since I have noticed further regional distinctions.

When I was in Santa Cruz an aquantence of mine mentioned that they tend to use the word “Hipster” in Nor Cal and “Scenester” in SoCal. Here are some defintions I’ve found to ground your understanding:

Hipster Definition (Urban Dictionary)
Scenester definition (Urban Dictionary)

From these general definitions I can gather two general senses of the distinctions:
1. Scenesters are about image and dress and what is “in”
2. Hipsters are intellectuals (or pretend to be) who watch independent movies and read

The regional issue that is tripping me out having recently moved to the east coast is that it seems to me that the term “Hipster”, like in Northern California, is more in-vogue in New York than the term “Scenester”. I would suspect this is simply because from what I can tell every one in New York reads.

But what seems a bit anachronistic to me is the fact that generally one is called a hipster here just for looking a certain way, the way being, to me, typically San Francisco. I don’t think that everyone in San Francisco is a hipster but I do believe that if any of my friends from San Francisco were to come out here they would immediately be labeled a “Hipster”, a distinction they would not warrant back home.

I myself prefer the more tradition definition of the term hipster (found here) which is more in-line with beat culture. It is alluded to in the definitions from the Urban Dictionary but mostly in derisive ways. Still if you were to go with that definition then most likely no one is a hipster any longer.

1 Comment on this Post.

  1. It seems to me that the confusion of terminology can be traced to a transition of the definition away from being historically situated in culture to one geographically situated in culture. Insofar as in both SF and NY the true definition of the term has been lost and left to evolve differently within their own respective enclaves.

    Etymological divergent evolution, eh?

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