Promoting Exceptions to the Hacker Archetype

Hacker Starter Pack

The traditional hacker archetype could be defined by this starter pack. The wardrobe consists of convertible zip off pants and a nerdy CS shirt. The food of the hacker includes soylent, the most efficient hacking fuel. They also lurk on reddit a lot and enjoy scy-fy movies.

While these characteristics of the hacker archetype may be highly stereotypical, most stereotypes come with some amount of truth. This archetype comes with a good deal of truth.There are a lot of hackers that fall into the hacker archetype that I defined above. I am not one of them. I think soylent tastes like dirt, and I do not wear shirts with pithy CS sayings or convertible pants. And yet, I am a hacker.

The way I see it, there are essentially 3 ways to react to not fitting the hacker archetype. You can deny association , try to become the archetype, or promote exceptions to the archetype. I have tried all three:

deny association

I used to not tell people I was a hacker. I would be an education major or a marketing major. I did not want people to think I was weird. However, I realized that any reaction/ judgment you get from people by admitting to be a hacker is better than lying. If they think being a hacker is anything less than fucking cool then they are not worth your time.

become the archetype

I also have tried to fit myself into the predefined hacker archetype. I drank the soylent. I have hacker shirts somewhere in my closet. I have watched sci-fy movies just to keep up with lunch conversations at work. I have thought, maybe there is some utility in zip off convertible pants. This was not a maintainable reaction to not fitting the archetype. First off, zip-off pants are not offered in women’s sizes. Second, it is becoming someone I am not. This was not the correct reaction to not fitting the archetype either. This brings me to option number 3.

promote exceptions to the archetype

The third option is to exist as an exception to the archetype, and promote exceptions to the archetype. This is what I try to do now. I use my non-archetypal hacker status to show others that the archetype is not absolute, to show that you don’t need to own zipper pants or drink soylent to be a hacker. The traditional hacker archetype can scare people that don’t fit the mold. For this reason, I think that it is my responsibility to embrace my hacker status and promote exceptions to the hacker archetype.