Steampunk is a lifestyle—the sentence is simple, but the meaning is complex. The clothing a person wears, their activities, and the overall attitudes about life all reflect the lifestyle they live. To some, steampunk is a hobby, but to others it is a lifestyle choice. The difference in the two is to what degree steampunk influences their daily life. A person who occasionally attends steampunk conventions and reads a few novels here and there would likely consider steampunk a hobby. But to others, such as Violet von Mickelsburg, who considers steampunk a lifestyle, “[it’s] about not looking at things in a conventional way, seeing the potential in the everyday, and not being afraid to try new things. It’s about looking for ways to make your everyday life more interesting, more beautiful, and less normal” (12). A positive outlook on life is important in the steampunk culture. Von Mickelsburg speaks of seeing the potential in the everyday; that does not just include nonmaterial culture, but material items as well. Do-it-yourself projects and good craftsmanship are common. Steampunks prefer one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items over those mass produced.
The steampunk philosophy is additionally indicative of the lifestyle. Like steampunk itself, the philosophy is also difficult to define. Dara Fogel, who has a PhD in philosophy, says in her article, “The Philosophy and Spirituality of Steampunk” that it is, “unrepentantly optimistic, intentionally calling upon the past for the inspiration to build a better future, free ourselves of limiting inequities, and to make a place where each individual is empowered to explore their own creativity” (10). The optimistic view of the future that Fogel speaks of evidences how steampunk contrasts with the dystopian themes that have become popular in many modern science fiction novels. Steampunk has been criticized, according to Fogel, for “cherry-picking” the Victorian era by “selecting only the parts [they] like, and ignoring