If you were a kid in the 90s, nothing was cooler than the idea of being a hacker. While most of us never knew who hackers were or the full extent of this profession, we all wanted to be this way for aesthetics. Now, pursuing a lifestyle that evokes this sense of nostalgia is not nonsensical. Shakespeare once said that the whole world is a stage, and we owe it to ourselves to choose the role we will play with the screen time we’re given.
Here are the top nine ways you can feel like a hacker from the 90s, even though we’re way past the year the original Blade Runner was set in.
- Mechanical keyboard
The first thing we learned about hackers in the 90s is that these people abnormally quickly type on the keyboard. In the 90s movie, no self-respecting hacker would ever (under any circumstances) come close to a mouse.
You can hear this over-the-top typing when you close your eyes, and this is something you need a mechanical keyboard for.
On top of being crucial to the hacker’s aesthetics, mechanical keyboards are also better for gaming, have a faster response time, and reduce typing fatigue. On top of it all, they’re also far more durable and give you instant tactile feedback. It’s not just that people are nostalgic for typewriters; mechanical keyboards are superior in many regards.
- Multiple monitors
Multiple monitors are an amazing addition to your setup. First of all, they boost productivity by 42%. Whether you’re a programmer, a copywriter, or just handling data entry, having more than one monitor is a massive quality of life improvement.
For general aesthetics, whenever you’re talking about hackers, you imagine that scene from The Matrix with multiple screens and green vertical code everywhere. You can easily create the same visual effect with the right wallpaper without much trouble.
- Learning some basic code
If you’re that much into this aesthetics and theme, chances are that you already know a thing or two about coding. If not, there’s plenty of incentive for you to learn.
No, we’re not suggesting using the ChatGPT Plus code interpreter. We’re not suggesting that you become a hacker or a programmer either, just that you increase your digital literacy and find a way to express yourself through one more means creatively. You know that learning a language generally broadens your horizon, and learning a programming language is no short of learning a language. The only difference is that this language is not spoken (so you’re learning Latin with a few additional applications).
By learning just the basics, you’ll understand modern digital processes better. This is something that can help you with a lot of modern careers.
- Using VPN
Not many tools will make you feel like a hacker as much as using a VPN. After all, you’re retracing your connection, deceiving the network into believing you’re half a world away. At the same time, you’re not doing anything illegal or even morally gray.
There are many great VPN options; finding and downloading one shouldn’t be hard. Just consult a guide to the top VPN providers and pick the one you like most.
Remember that VPN keeps you safe, allows you to avoid censorship and geo-restrictions, and provides you with several other benefits. It’s not JUST about feeling like a hacker.
- Dressing the part
Sometimes, the way you dress impacts your general mindset. Why not use this fact to your advantage and get into the 90s hacker aesthetics?
Generally speaking, in the 90s, hackers wore dark colors, leather, and baggy clothes. They were the ideal of a nerd rockstar, and by combining the elements of all the 90s fashion stereotypes related to these two groups, you’ll effortlessly get the look.
The simplest tip to get there is to combine a band T-shirt, gloves, goggles, and a trench coat. Sure, it may be a bit over the top, but it’s not like this is bad in this context.
- The right soundtrack
With the right soundtrack in the background, you’ll have a lot easier getting into the right mindset. Generally speaking, you’re looking for fast-paced music that was often featured in the 90s movies. The most popular genres are techno, electronic, and industrial blends.
While this music is subjective, you aim for bands like Massive Attack and The Prodigy. Daft Punk and Nine Inch Nails are also safe bets. Also, OSTs from games and movies are just amazing, especially when they fit the theme. Just make sure to play something that you believe fits the theme. After all, it’s all about the sensation.
Because every soundtrack gets repetitive, you can look for playlists and mixes online.
Just cyberpunk in general. We include everything from reading Neuromancer by William Gibson to watching Johnny Mnemonic.
There are so many cyberpunk-themed games that you could play, games like Cyberpunk 2077 or Shadowrun franchise. However, any game from the 80s or 90s will do the trick. Just get yourself an emulator (if you haven’t already followed our tip of getting an arcade console).
Remember that cyberpunk props, like a replica of a gun from Blade Runner and similar memorabilia, may also do the trick. Once again, if it speaks cyberpunk to you, it’s cyberpunk, and it will fit your hacker’s den quite nicely.
- Decorating the room
You want to decorate the room in a cyberpunk manner. First of all, you want a retro setup. This is not a problem since you can fit any configuration into a Pentium II case. Then, you need neon, lots and lots of neon.
Posters with wall art are mandatory. Cyberpunk is a safe bet here, so go for games from the 90s or movies like Matrix, Dark City, or the aforementioned Johnny Mnemonic.
Some futuristic furniture and hacker props (like Anonymous mask) will also do the trick. If you’ve followed the guide so far, you probably already have many items you need for this setup, even without actively trying to decorate.
- A collection of old tech
Nothing helps you get more into this mood than gathering old tech. Just imagine a hacker from a 90s movie. Do they have a Walkman? Of course, they do! So, go out and try to find one.
You also want to look for retro video game consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, or the original PlayStation. Those with the heftiest budget may even choose to buy an arcade console. Games like Cadilac vs. Dinosaur and Battle Toads are the optimal choice.
A Polaroid camera, a classic cell phone, and floppy discs are great items to display.
Lastly, you want a virtual machine with a classic operating system or just an overlay for your current operating system. This way, you get that vintage feel.
Being a hacker and feeling like a hacker are two different things
Not all hackers are bad. Without white-hat hackers, there would be no penetration testing, and the world of cybersecurity would be merely a shadow of what it is today. However, you can feel like a hacker even without putting in years of grind and research. If this is your childhood dream, there’s nothing wrong with taking this aesthetic shortcut. Work on your room and challenge yourself to bring this theme to life. It can be far more rewarding than you would expect.