Geeks are fascinating creatures.
Believe me, I should know. I’ve spent a lot of time among geeks, observing their behaviors and gathering data. In fact, in the interests of full disclosure and journalistic integrity… I must confess that I myself am totally a geek.
Yes, I can imagine the disbelieving astonishment in your expression. Who could have imagined that Adam Stück, of all solemn and serious people, has been a geek all along? I’ll give you a moment to get over your shock.
As I said, geeks are strange and marvelous creatures. Geeks, and the cultures they create, are worth studying.
What is a geek? The simplest definition for a geek is a person with a strong interest in something. A geek is not a nerd, though a person can be both. A nerd is intelligent, generally introverted or asocial, and sometimes (but not always) socially inept. Although geeks are often stereotyped as nerds, anyone can be a geek. Sports fans, college professors, or motorcycle enthusiasts can be geeky about their respective interests.
Geeks are usually ordinary people with a passion for something trivial—a book, sport, hobby, video game, television series, or something else. Besides having a strong attachment to their objects of interest, geeks usually know a lot about them. Once you get geeks talking, it can be really hard to shut them up. Geeks can have more than one object of interest, of course. I have many!
The thing that fascinates me most about geeks is the instant solidarity and understanding that often springs up between them. A common interest, no matter how trivial, can unite people of all cultures, races, nations, languages, beliefs, and opinions. A shared love of soccer, Star Wars, or world history brings together the most unlikely people. Geeks frequently set aside personal differences; the wolf lives with the lamb; the calf and the lion and the yearling quit arguing about religion or politics and go out for coffee.
I’ve done a little informal research into geek culture, and I’d like to do more. Brief studies of geek culture shall join About Storytelling posts, TMTF Reviews, and Why [Insert Author Name] Is Awesome posts as an occasional feature on this blog.
Anthropology isn’t exactly my field, true, yet I have what Liam Neeson would call “a particular set of skills.” My skills, unlike Liam Neeson’s, mostly involve geeky things like winning Mario Kart races and rambling about J.R.R. Tolkien. I consider myself highly qualified to discuss geek culture. In fact, some time ago, I went so far as to create a geek studies tag for TMTF and add it to a bunch of old posts… which, I suppose, makes me guilty of retconning my own blog.
What’s that? You’re wondering what retconning means? Don’t worry about it. Retconning is a geek thing.
Mario Kart and Tolkien are epic skills. *nods* *speaks from experience*
I have them on my CV and resume. 😉
I continually hear about these alleged “Mario Kart Skills” which, if rumors are to be believed, are adequate enough to possibly “pay the bills.” Still, without going toe to toe, I can only believe the word of a man who claims to have a team of irate monkeys working on his website for him. In my experience with monkeys, they are terrible workers. So SOMETHING seems amiss…
At any rate, this was a great insight on the definition of geek. I guess I never considered that, as in my mind geek and nerd were kind of interchangeable. Having ceased to be a nerd sometime in high school, I guess my geekdom continued strongly to this very day without me knowing it. Hence how if someone accidentally brings up animation in my presence, they end up ruing the day they ever uttered those words.
It’s amazing what we allow to connect us, huh? We literally will change our opinion of someone we possibly hated if they like something we like (and sometimes, sadly, the opposite if they like something ridiculous, like the Dallas Cowboys).
Although I exaggerate my Mario Kart prowess for comic effect, I’m pretty good. Everyone’s good at something, and one of my talents has turned out to be Mario Kart instead of… say… astrophysics or Nobel Prize-winning poetry. Needless to say, I regret nothing. 😉
Many people won’t acknowledge their geekiness due to negative stereotypes of geeks as social misfits or pale-skinned shut-ins, but geeky interests are extremely common. I think most of us are at least a little geeky. I’m making geek studies a feature on TMTF because geek culture interests me, yet I hope my researches provide a positive perspective of geeks not as out-of-touch losers, but as people passionate about their interests… albeit in quirky ways.
I love how geeky interests connect people — even people with little else in common. Quoting C.S. Lewis is getting to be a bad habit of mine, but I think he said it well: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'”
It would be really interesting to have a few of the geek culture studies be things people don’t normally associate as “geeky.” As you said, some sports fans are geekier than even I with my animation passion. Would be cool to show some non-traditional geeks out there, and how it’s not just those of us who happen to be lanky and bespectacled.
Just started Lance Eliot Learns the Meaning Of Pain, by the way. Really hitting a stride now.