Me Geek, You Geek, Y’all Geek
By Todd Secord
OK, so I still read the occasional comic book, play video games, watch cartoons, love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, huge fan of movies and music, and to top it all off, I’m a part owner of gaming company (for which I prepared for by gaming since the age of 6). Does this make me a geek?
But, what is a geek? By definition, it’s someone who bites the heads off of small animals – like rats or birds, eats live insects, drinks blood, chews broken glass, etc. for the purposes of entertainment, as in one of those circus freak shows of yesteryear. The fact that I even know that probably makes me a geek, especially since I just used the word “yesteryear” in a sentence. But I’m OK with this. Mostly because the last insect I ate accidentally flew in my mouth, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rat – and I’ve worked in restaurants pretty much my entire adult life. I remember thinking that I drank blood once until somebody told me it was gazpacho. But, I digress. No, apparently I’m a geek, by today’s standards mind you, because I like “geeky things” – like reading comic books, playing video games, loving Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, being a huge fan of movies and music, and partly owning a gaming company; which has been known to publish the most geeky of all things geek, Dungeons and Dragons stuff.
However, when I look in the mirror, I don’t think I look geeky…I certainly don’t feel geeky, and when I tell all the prospective girlfriends I’ve ever known about my geeky ways, there always seems to be a response of somewhere between “shut up and kiss me” to “yeah, I think Laura Croft is hot too.” No, really. In fact, I make it point not to hide my geekiness, but almost flaunt it. If you’re confident about your nerdy side, women seem to interpret this as being wholly confident, and as we all know, women apparently loooovvve confidence. Yes, it’s right up there with being sensitive, and having a sense of humour. Whatever. The point is there’s no point in hiding what you like – just be prepared to defend it is all. But that’s me.
Trust me, there have been thousands of times, as I walk through the social spheres of geekdom, that I stop at a particular specimen and say to myself, “Now, that guy is a GEEK!” At the same time, I know full well that but for the grace of God go I. However, unlike the casual observer, I don’t condemn him or her by the hobbies by which they define their life by, and I certainly don’t worry about whatever facet of social awkwardness they may be adept at – I just let them be. And, of course, I try to sell them something. Unfortunately, that aforementioned casual observer likely shrieks in glee at the sight of said geek – like they just saw “Lightning Bolt” on Youtube – meanwhile, the geek is earning 6 figures as a systems analyst for some giant super corporation. And that, in there, lies the problem. Geeks are defined by the times they live in relative to the stuff they’re into. When I was a kid, everybody played D&D – I mean everybody. My teachers, jocks, Goths, girls next door; everybody but the cheerleaders; but it didn’t matter because Gygax was covering that demographic by hanging out at the Playboy mansion. By invitation no less! D&D was huge, a cultural phenomenon. Now, D&D is the ultimate trait in geek definition. Hell, even the Simpsons makes fun it, betrayed by a bunch of comedic writers that probably still play – but you write what you know I guess. Star Wars? I remember when you were a geek if you didn’t like Star Wars. And those who hadn’t seen it? Stoned to death. I’m not kidding. Just the other day, I’m watching some stupid video on the internet of Star Wars geeks fighting with a bunch of punks (as in rockers). I remember playing D&D with punk-rockers!
Back to the systems analyst: As I grew into the late 80’s, computer nerds, as they were referred too, were the lowliest form of geek in the geek hierarchy. Mostly because computers, in the middle 80’s, were pretty dull. Yes, I had one, like most people I knew, but let’s face it, PCs were glorified typewriters. Of course, the potential was there, but it didn’t look like it was happening anytime soon. Now, computer nerds are the Marlboro men of the 21st century. However, there is one thing in all of this that I simply cannot understand. And let me know if I’m not seeing this straight, BUT, how is it geeky to be seen with a Chewbacca mask on when some dude in the Bay Area, every Sunday, paints his face yellow and green and sticks a Styrofoam piece of cheese on his head? That’s not geeky? How is it geeky to watch the umpteenth episode of Star Trek, and yet, watch Days of Our Lives, and/or General Hospital? Quote a Monte Python movie, and you’re a geek, provided there’s somebody around to register, and yet, if I have to listen to one more guy incessantly quote Family Guy or Season 6, Episode 5 of the Simpsons, I’ll…I’ll…likely laugh if he delivers it well, but still think he’s a geek for not being able to be funny on his own. WWE? Geek. Golf? Geek. Harry Potter? Geek. You’re a geek at 35 for reading all of them, and you’re daughter is a geek for loving a fictional geek. Don’t you dare speak in Klingon, but do a Cartman voice and somehow you’re the life of the party. Just because I happen to over analyze the Lord of the Rings movies right down to their choice of production assistants can’t possibly be as bad as the guy who can tell you the starting line-ups of every single NBA team for the last 20 years. Every year I get into an elevator at Gen Con, somebody makes some comment that it’s only at Gen Con that an elevator full people would get some obscure, X-Files reference, meanwhile, over at the F.B.I., they’re saying the same thing. The debate of Fifty vs. The Game might as well be the Hulk vs. Superman. American Idol? Geek. Anything to do with bike building? Geek. That gas tank is cool! My Space? REALLY geek. Look at how cool and different I am. MSN? Instead of actually talking to someone, I’m going type to them, and, I’m going to use special code words, like LOL. Bloggers? Geek.
Anyway, I hope you’re reading my mail here. If you think about it, there’s little, if anything left now-a-days, that isn’t geeky in some way, shape, or form. And if that’s the case, then why bother with the whole geek label anyway? Who’s the kettle and who’s the pot? Really, when you think about it, you can blame the internet and 300 plus channels of TV for leveling the playing field. Seeing as the majority of modern geekdom is rooted in the media, and with the subsequent explosion of media, everyone was bound to get splattered with geekness. So don’t bother making fun of me because I play D&D when you’ve just played Madden for 10 hours, waited in line at a Best Buy at 2 in the morning, or can’t wait to get home because you downloaded the latest episode of Lost. Just invite me over.