As a geek of the ripe old age of fourty-one, I have seen a lot of things change since I first entered the realm of geekdom. Many of those changes have been really good, and some of them have been less so. Now that it is time for all the young padawans to return to their Jedi training after a fun summer of geeky goodness, I find myself thinking about the differences between now, and my time as a young geekling. Pondering these differences has also made me think that I might be able to offer some advice to the children of the geek out there in hopes that it might help them in some small way on their journeys to adult geekhood.
From The Dark Days of Geek To The Golden Age
One thing that amazes me and the friends I have around my age, is the sheer amount of geek-related things there are in the world these days. When I was young, we had our share of geek loves and activities, but it was not as openly acceptable to be a geek as it is these days, and we did not have as many outlets for our geek loves as there are now either. Indeed, I was fortunate in my life to find friends that were just as geeky as I was, which made things a lot easier for me. However, there were a lot of children out in the world who did not have as much access or acceptance to geek things, and often faced bullying and ridicule from other children. Of course, I know there are still bullies out there, that never seems to change, but at least now, you can more readily find outlets to share your geek loves with others who share similar interests.
When I was young, my friends and I would dream of the day when we could see a movie with our favorite superhero. Now, superheroes are so common, they rule the theaters every summer. I can remember conversations with my friends where we would discuss who we thought would be the best actors to star as the X-Men or as Spider-Man, never believing that we would actually see such movies on a regular basis. Not only have we seen both of those movies, but we have also had two Avengers movies as well. We never dared to dream of an actual Avengers movie when I was young! In addition to great movies, there are some really fun geeky television shows out there as well, and geek TV seems to be in a true golden age right now. Whether you are watching brilliant science fiction shows, or more superhero fare, there is plenty to devour out there, and it is truly a great time to be a geek.
With that being said, my advice to the young geeks of today is to wear your badges proudly. There is a geek revolution going on right now, and there is no longer a need to hide your geeky side under a false disguise, as so many of the geeks in my generation had to do. Surround yourself with fellow geeks who share the things that you are passionate about, and revel in your geekery! It is acceptable to be a geek now, and don’t let anyone ever tell that it is not. The generations of geeks before you fought many battles against to be accepted in the “regular” world, and you can honor those geek forefathers by letting your geek flag fly proudly.
What is it you are passionate about most? Do you love comics? Superheroes? Anime and Manga? Are you a Whovian, a Trekker, or a Star Wars fan? Maybe you are all of the above, and so much more. Whatever you are passionate about, share it with the world and be proud. Where clothes that display your favorite things every day you can. Hey, why not dress up as your favorite character sometimes too? You don’t just have to wait until Halloween to wear a costume after all.
There are so many types of geeks in this world, that some of them don’t even realize they are geeks yet. Though there is no official definition, technically, It is widely accepted that a geek is anyone who is passionate about something so much that it gives them great joy. If you really think about that definition, then you realize that there are more geeks out in the world than even you might realize. Have you ever met anyone that loves sports so much that they know every stat and player, and dress up in the uniforms (aka costumes) of their favorite players? That’s right, they are sports geeks. Have you ever watched the Food Network and noticed how passionate the folks on there are about food? You guessed it, food geeks. I could go on, but I think you get my point. If you think about it, I’m sure you could come up with some other examples of non-traditional geeks as well.
There Is A Dark Side
As much as I encourage you to be proud to be a geek, I do have a word of warning for you as well. Do not let your passion push you to the Dark Side of geek. We’ve all witnessed this dark side, some of us through stories of other geeks, and some of us more directly, and it is never pleasant. If you don’t understand what I mean by the dark side of geek, then that is perhaps a good thing as you may not yet have been exposed to it. Basically, I can sum up what I am telling you in one simple sentence made popular by uber-geek Wil Wheaton when he said, “don’t be a dick.”
Simply put, treat your fellow geeks the way you would want them to treat you, and don’t be abusive, dismissive, or rude to any of your brethren. Remember, we all love what we love, and no one geek is any better than another. The world of geek has expanded immensely, and we need to be accepting of all geeks around the universe. Is Marvel better than DC? Is Star Wars better than Star Trek? Does Doctor Who trump them all? We all have our opinions, many of those opinions will be different, but all of them are valid. If there is one thing you can learn from being a geek, it is that the one thing we do have in common is the passion we share for our favorite things.
Following that path leads me to my next point, and one that is very important to remember in the expanding geek world. That point is, no geek should ever have to prove their “geek cred”. I really despise that term more than you will ever know. You don’t have to prove that you are a geek to anyone, ever. All geeks should feel free to discuss their passions with each other, but no geek should ever need to prove themselves to another geek. We are all geeks in one way or another, and the details of what makes us a geek are inconsequential.
An important addendum to my previous statements are in regards to women who are geeks. One thing that really makes me happy about this golden age of geek in regards to my days as a geek, is how many more women feel free to consider themselves geeks. I am so glad to see more women proudly declaring their geekhood now that it makes me even prouder to call myself a geek. With that being said, my last piece of advice is simply this, treat these geeks with equal respect. I shouldn’t have to say more than that, but there are still far too many stories of geek women treated poorly by male geeks, and that is pathetic. The world of geek is not a boys club, and any woman has just as much right to consider herself a geek. Simply put, treat any female geek you meet with equal respect as a fellow geek. Period.
In closing, be a proud geek who treats other geeks, whether they be man or woman, as you would expect to be treated, don’t let anyone tear you down for being a geek, and enjoy your journey on the path of the geek. It is a truly great time to be a geek after all.