2/11/10

Which type of Geek are you? - A Geek Manifesto

There are lots of ways to classify a geek. The most popular would be the specialty geek, if I had to pick one, it would probably just be "movie geek". But I don't want to pick one, life is a veritable buffet for the easily inspired. I consider myself an adventure geek (the genre), a musical geek, an old horror movie geek, a Disney geek, a tattoo geek, a memoir geek, a Golden Girls geek, a sci-fi geek...honestly, the list could go on and on, so I'll spare you.

But there are other ways to classify a geek too, some ways that cross over into diagnosing disorders...there's the geek who won't socialize. The angry geek (think Nick Burns, your company's computer guy), the one who is tired of being picked on for their special interests and so they have to lord their expert knowledge over others to feel superior.

There's the weird geek, the one who has isolated themselves from friends, or even potential friends, usually because they've been burned by teasing their entire lives. (They lack social skills, tend to stare at others a lot, expect the worst and just generally make others uncomfortable...and a digital wristwatch is usually involved.)

There's the reality-immune geek. The best example would be the people who see Avatar a million times (okay, maybe that's hyperbole...but you get the idea) and wind up depressed because Pandora isn't a real place where they can go and live.

There's the insecure geek, the one who thinks that every idea they have is stupid and everything they like is dumb, and they're idiots so why don't they just go jump off a cliff. They have believed a lie, a lie someone told them about themselves when they were little, or a joke made at their expense at the office one too many times. They are alone and everyone else in the world is happy and successful because they are cool. It's not true, but they believe that it is, so they will feel sorry for themselves and ashamed of who they are until someone or something gives them a swift theoretical kick to the head. (Like this guy, who learned not to be ashamed of his SKA roots...)

I think at different times in my life, I've been a combination of all of the above. I wear a digital wristwatch (but so does Tomb Raider), I was QUEEN weirdo in Jr. High School until some merciful girls kind of adopted me into their social circle and re-trained me how to talk with humans.

Later, in High School when Titanic hit...I spent way too many hours gazing at pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and wishing I could marry him. Or rather, his character from the film. So embarrassing...

Just last Halloween, when I returned to my hometown dressed as Princess Leia to go trick-or-treating with my best friend and her family, I found myself snapping at an old acquaintance for no reason at all. We were childhood friends, and she used to tease me. A lot. (I was oversensitive, which added to the whole incendiary mix.) She was taking her kids trick-or-treating too, and all she said to me was, "Hi." with a pleasant smile, and I immediately fired back, "Yep, it's me, still a geek!" like I had a mild case of embarrassment-related Tourette's Syndrome. She tried to recover, "No...I mean..." and then I smiled and pretended I was kidding.

But for a brief moment, I was ten again. With a bad haircut and crooked teeth and high water pants and feet too big for my body wearing a Thundercats shirt.

I bring all this up, because lately, I find myself under some of the same world pressures that I felt when I was a kid and I've been trying to compensate. To justify. To prove that I'm cool, even with the very tools of my un-coolness. I'm way off track.

I fear that I'm losing my inner fangirl and assimilating a little too much. A road trip to Comic-Con this summer might cure that, but until then, what to do, what to do?

I'm in graduate school right now, which means I'm perpetually exhausted. Everyone is. There are classes, and there is work to do outside of classes, and presentations to plan for and give, and events to attend and participate in somehow if you can't attend, and opportunities to seek and grab, and the list just goes on and on and on. Not to misrepresent myself, I'm immensely grateful for the opportunities and the challenge, I can feel myself growing leaps and bounds almost daily under all the pressure. So it's been good.

But in order to retain one's geekdom amongst said pressures...one has to know, in some ways, when to stop listening. I take a lot of classes that tell me what is and isn't worth my time. What is real art, literature with a capital L, and what is wasteful and beneath me. And I disagree with almost all of it, and I then become caught up in my defiance. Which can be a real waste of time. Life is full of people who disagree with you, and you just have to know who you are and move forward, freed from the need to change their opinions.

I came to graduate school for one purpose, because I needed to have a structured environment where someone would FORCE me to finish a book. I know I have many books inside my brain, just bouncing around in there like early nineties screensavers. Movie scripts too. But I have to learn how to extract them. Because God bless my hopeless little heart...I'm a writer, and I'd like to be one for a living. I've spent the past three years as a freelance writer, and I've loved every minute, but someday, I'd like to be able to afford fancy things, like a car or a house or a bag of Cheetos. So whether I like it or not, I have to try to climb up the ladder a little bit.

But as geeks, we CANNOT lose our GEEKDOM on the way up. It is our identity, and when we lose that and try to morph into something else, something more acceptable to those around us, we risk becoming major jerks, bitter at everyone around us. Not that what you like is who you are, (who you are is your soul, not your preferences) but if you lose your true north, your connection to childhood and fun and inspiration, your dreams for your future, your God-given personality...you pretty much have nothing left.

If you focus on the opinions of others, you take the risk that you might start living for other people, what other people say you should do, who you should be. And that's impossible, because there are billions of people on this planet, and A. Most of them don't know you exist, and B. The ones who do have their own junk they're carrying around and their own motives and they all probably have a different idea about who you should be or what you should do.

So now I have to be the vigilant geek, the one that realizes there's a real world to live in. Participating in that is good, nay, great even. You can't hide in your office with your Indiana Jones toys and your Star Wars posters forever. (Not that I would know anything about that.) Well, you could, but life wouldn't be very fun or fulfilling.

But you also can't go the opposite route and believe everyone who tells you that you are too old for such things or that what you want to do isn't valid. You...oh, who am I kidding? I have to find a place of comfortable and polite defiance. A style and a voice all my own in a world that will offer up constant opposition, because that is the nature of the world after all.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I have a bit of a cold, and I'd like to get back to being a healthy geek. So I'm going to go have some chicken soup and watch some episodes of Magnum P.I., and I'm not gonna take any guff about it.

So ask yourself...what kind of a geek are you? You may be surprised to find the answer if you can tell yourself the truth...feel like rejoining the world today?

1 comment:

Jake Williams said...

This is a great blog. It reminded me of a way I survive as as vigilant geek in this humdrum world. Every morning I run to the doors of my job all the while thinking "Let's hunt some Orc". This is an inspiring piece. Keep at it... I'm sure there are more of us out there in the geekdom that need some encouragement.