The Rise and Rise of the ‘Yupster’: A social study on the demographic evolution of hipsters in modern South African society

It’s time to welcome a new breed of modern social stereotype. And they’re a scary bunch to boot.

Paul Steyn
Paul gets a kick out of contributing to Surge. He's also a profiled contributor to Paul

I was hanging out in a bar the other day when I called some guy a ‘yupster’. At the time, he was fearlessly mocking another individual about his ‘scruffy hipster clothing’.

Yupster? The guy looked at me confused, but I’m certain he knew what I meant. The truth is, I wasn’t even sure what I was talking about (often the case) until later when a friend and I unpacked the term over beer.

This is what we established:

It seems the hipster is fast becoming extinct due to the savage judgment of all those in South Africa with jobs.

As economically marginalised individuals, hipsters are no longer able to survive in the highly competitive social environment and so have started to steadily disappear.

Possibly due to interbreeding, or some form of social cannibalism, the people of South Africa with valid professions are consuming the hipster and co-evolving into a new species.

As opposed to common hipsters, and a bit like yuppies (young, upwardly mobile professionals), yupsters usually have a job or own their own small business, and they look upon the unemployed with genuine scorn. Whereas irony was once the ammo of the hipster, it is mocking that has become the weapon of choice for the yupster.

Higher earning power has allowed these professionals to take the economical high ground, and now there is a brutal war on the go – of which the hipster is loosing badly. Worst cases of mocking usually happen at coffee shops around lunch hour and between 5 and 7 in the evening at cocktail bars, pubs and such.

How do you identify a yupster?

You’ll know one when you see one. I wasn’t quite sure myself until I bumped into the aforementioned individual at the bar.

Yupsters are usually well dressed – they need to be in order to not be mocked – but not too well dressed as this would put them in the category of the yuppie which nobody wants either. It’s a fine balance. They neither stand out, nor blend in. A kind of indie-mod sort of style. Can be tricky.

You can also sometimes pick a yupster by the type of small business that they own. Coffee shops, retro-modern–style restaurants, events companies, clothing stores and sometimes even boutique barber shops and such. In terms of full time employment, yupsters usually gravitate to agencies and other small-medium-sized businesses that retain a funky, yet forward-thinking sort of culture.

If you struggle to identify a yupster from the subtle choice of clothing or chosen profession, their outward hatred of the privileged unemployed is obviously a dead giveaway. I say ‘privileged’ because yupsters generally don’t pick on homeless people – unless the destitute individual displays some form of basic wealth that has allowed them to be unemployed and still own a smart phone.

Yupsters generally drive cars like mini coopers, VW passats, volvos and the latest Vespas and you’ll often find them using one of the later Samsung Galaxies.

What now?

Nothing really. Yupsters are here to stay and spreading fast. As time goes on, I have no doubt they will become more obvious. Yupsters generally grow with emerging economies and lots of analysts are saying South Africa is heading for a ten-year bull market. So buckle up – the age of the yupster is just beginning.

Paul Steyn
Paul gets a kick out of contributing to Surge. He's also a profiled contributor to Paul