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Geek? Me? Of Course I am.

“Speak out with your Geek out” is an online campaign/meme/idea/excuse-to-write-about-cool-stuff/ thing doing the rounds this week. The idea is to talk about the geeky things that you do.

I am relatively un-convinced that geeks need an ‘awareness campaign’ however. Because the modern definition of a geek has changed so much over the years.

30 years ago, to be a geek meant you where someone who did gross things for money. 20 years ago, it meant someone who had poor hygiene and social skills who also happened to have some sort of all consuming hobby or obsession. But the hobby aspect was just icing on the (rather smelly) cake, it was the lack of social skills and the stink that defined a ‘geek’.
These days, when we describe someone as a Geek (or to use the more British version of the term; Anorak) we mean “Someone who spends way too much time on an area of knowledge, often one with no practical use.”

Speak out with your Geek Out

And that’s a pretty broad church. We get Steam Geeks , Car Geeks, Table-Top Gaming Geeks, Video Game Geeks, Vintage Toy Geeks, Anime Geeks, Football Geeks, Art Geeks, Science Geeks, even Geek Geeks. This list is so large, you need to be a Maths Geek to care about how big it is. Fashion Geeks have invented the term ‘Geek Chic’. Ironic t-shirts with obscure references can be found easily (and are used by many as a way to break the ice). Film geeks have filled movies and TV shows with pop culture references. To be a geek is the norm these days.

This makes sense. It’s in our nature to study almost anything to the point of obsession, and that does not have to be a bad thing. Human beings devote their time to a plethora of activities, and to mock someone for having a hobby displays that you have a lack of character. Healthy, happy people have multiple skills, multiple obsessions and do stuff in their spare time.
Do not mock the guy who’s just spent 40+ hours writing an intricate D&D campaign for his 6 friends, mock the idiot who’s spent 40+hours passively sitting on their arse watching whatever happens to be on telly. After all, you wouldn’t mock someone for preferring Coke over Pepsi, so why would you ever mock someone for wanting to play ‘Warhammer 40,000’ rather than watch Eastenders?

The only time Geek gets used as a pejorative term these days is when that obsession gets in the way of said Geek enjoying life. The Manchester United Geek who misses their own daughter’s birth in order to watch the match has a problem, as does the World of Warcraft Obsessive who stays up all night fighting murlocs on the night before that all important job interview. And that’s not an issue caused by being a geek. That’s an issue caused by not being a grown-up. Being a geek is an excuse to celebrate the things that fascinated us when we were young, but it isn’t a reason to not embrace the joys and trials of adult life.

If you like to do something, why aren’t you learning as much about as you can? Being a Geek is to be human.If you aren’t a Geek, what does that make you?

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Categories: Geek Tags: , ,
  1. Michael Wlach
    September 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    I wouldn’t say that everyone who studies is a geek. Some people only study/learn enough to pass an exam or just to get by in their job. Being a geek/anorak/nerd/otaku is simply taking it to another level to either satisfy personal curiosity or obsession (whether healthy or otherwise). The term geek is rapidly becoming socially acceptable as in this technology driven society ordinary (non geek) people, with little or no understanding of technology, turn to the office “geek” or the helpdesk “geek” to get things working so they can find out the latest trivial celebrity gossip on their iPhone etc.

    Geeks don’t need an awareness campaign (we all know who we are and so do our fellow geeks) and unless you’ve been dead for the past century chances are that you already know someone who fits the “geek” category either at your workplace or in social circles.

    As for being a United fan/Warcraft player who puts their hobby/obsession above their family or other important activities isn’t being a geek… they’re just being a tard.

    What would the Doctor say…? I’ll bet he’d say “geeks are cool!” (along with bow ties and Fez’s).

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