We are all geeks. There. I’ve said it. No going back now. You are a geek. I am a geek. My kids are geeks. The neighbor is a geek. My postman is a geek. Even the President of the United States is a geek.
Now that the cat is out of the bag in the closet in the back, we can get down to brass tacks and dispel the negative connotations of the word “geek”.
1 : a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2 : a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3 : an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>
I can honestly say I’ve never bitten the head off of a chicken or a snake (thought there were some drunken nights in the Navy I can’t account for, I’ll err on the side of my good nature), and I’ll vouch for the Pres in this instance and venture neither has he. I don’t think #2 applies, though there is a certain distaste for “geekery”, which is the heart of my post. It’s #3 we’re after.
My problem is the defference shown to some geekery. It gauls me that there is some acceptable geekery and some not accpetable. For instance, if you play fantasy football or just know every baseball stat ever printed, there’s a certain amount of latitude shown to your geekery due to some unbeknownst, societal mores that has never published nor sworn.
To a lesser extent, movies, TV, scrap-booking, knitting, stamp and coin collecting are also acceptable, however a step down from sports fanaticism. (Gun, car and any other collecting that is extremely expensive seems to get a pass as well and even above the aforementioned).
On the other hand, if you devote the same attention to Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Star Wars, Tetris, Comic Books, computers…all share some sort of social pariah status, even amongst themselves. There’s a strata of acceptability even amongst the geek community with regard to what is the most acceptable and what is the least. I don’t know if that is sheer numbers, but I suspect there’s some level of acceptability at work here that is undocumented and unproven.
Let’s also set the record straight and exclude “nerds” from this definition as well, using a simple rule that if you are that into something that you would be considered a geek, but you do it for a living, you are a nerd. You can be a science geek, but if you work for NASA, you are a nerd which trumps your geek status.
“Dorks” on the other hand, though often mistaken for geeks or nerds, are usually of lower intelligence. An example of a dork to me would be the so-called geek who loves Star Trek but fetishizes only tribbles and doesn’t know there were other shows than the original series from the 60’s. It also means a whale’s cock. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
So my question is, where is the disparity here? Remove the object of the geekery and the behavior is the same. Sure, people are different and though one may not look like the stereotypical “geek” per se, take away the obvious indicators of their fetish and you have, at the root, the same core values:
1 – I love this one thing above nearly all else (exceptions for family and bathing do occur)
2 – I spend my free time and money on this thing above all other things (except the necessities like beer, Mountain Dew, Doritos and electricity)
3 – All my friends are somehow connected to this thing.
4 – My significant other describes themselves as a [my thing] widow.
5 – I have forgone certain responsibilities for this thing causing friction at work or at home.
6 – Have more than 1 article of clothing emblazoned with that thing.
7 – I have stayed up way past a reasonable hour, camped out, gone without bathing for more than a 24-hour period, done something questionable (or just gross) for this thing at least once.
8 – I have one or more tattoos about this thing on my body.
9 – Have been described as “the [that thing] guy/gal”.
10 – Have at least one family member who is ashamed of my relationship with that thing.
Now, I don’t condone an unhealthy relationship to any of the “things” I’ve alluded to as an object of geekery, but I certainly understand it. And if that thing causes more joy than pain and you follow some simple rules as far as etiquette, responsibility, safety and consideration for others outside of the thing, you’re golden.
I guess I’m a fan of geekery, having my own geek-outs myself, but there is a level of shame associated with some of them that I don’t feel towards others (I’ve been a Saints fan for years and was ecstatic that they got to, let alone won, the Superbowl, but not so much that I made level 80 in World of Warcraft the other day, though the latter took more time and dedication to accomplish).
In conclusion, I say embrace your geekery, whatever it may be. Share it with someone. Don’t hurt yourself. And respect the geekery of others.