I was perusing (good word) the BBC website at lunch time again today and came across this article in the magazine section about the evolution of the words nerd and geek.
It’s true that the social meaning behind these words has changed a lot in a short space of time. In this article, this is credited to the boom in technology. People like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have definitely helped to change the definitions. In fact, a lot of what is written in this article rings true.
I am a geek. More than that, I’m a female geek. Why am I a geek?
Because I spent my adolescence building websites instead of getting drunk with my friends? Because I’m not good at/willing to play sport? Because I get incredibly obsessed about things?
I remember when I was doing my A levels. Two year groups sat together in the common room and we automatically divided ourselves into groups. The ‘popular’ kids had the pool table in their area (annoying). The ‘pretty/rich’ kids had the kitchen – I’m not sure why. I was part of the biggest group, we dominated the common room and we owned the vending machines (the power!). We were the ‘rejects’.
Some of us wanted to be popular but never quite made it. We all wanted to be rich, let’s face it. We fancied people in the other groups but daren’t talk to them. We still crossed over, friends and friends of friends belonged in other groups, but whenever we moved to play a game of pool or chat to an outsider friend you could always feel those burning eyes on you.
‘You don’t belong here’.
I have a vivid memory of sitting in the common room, trying my hardest to look cool, and suddenly seeing the proportions of the groups. We were in the top year and the year below us had joined the common room and mingled with our group. We were overflowing. There had been ructions as we spilled into other groups’ territories. Tables being thieved from here, someone being ‘accidently’ kicked there, quarrelling, bitching but we always came out on top. Why? Because we vastly outnumbered every group there.
Now, back in the day, the geeks (I don’t like the word nerd, it feels too American) were the rejects. We, as the rejects, were the geeks. So what about that little group in the corner? The hyper intelligent, OxBridge candidates who were the possible potential millionaires lurking amongst us. Surely they were the geeks.
Of course they were, but we were different kinds. The BBC article mentions sub categories of geeks as being the literature geek, the computer geek, the gaming geek, basically anyone who specialises in something. We didn’t have that. We had the so-intelligent-we-don’t-know-how-to-talk-to-them geeks and us.
We were made up of a variety of people. The sci-fi/fantasy geeks, the TV/film geeks, the gothic geeks, the grunge geeks, the anime geeks, the ever so slightly (and not so slightly) random geeks, the technical geeks…the list goes on. Everyone fitted into more than type of geekdom and everyone relished it.
|The god that is Joss Whedon|
My geekness followed me out of school, into university and adulthood. All of my friends are geeks and I love them for that. I have the ‘random’ friends, the anime fan friends, the’ drooling over fantasy and sci-fi’ friends, the ‘I heart films’ friends and of course the technically gifted friends.
It’s true that it seems like everyone wants to be a geek these days. I think programmes like Big Bang Theory has definitely helped to populate this (ironic when you consider that none of the actors involved are actually geeks – they didn’t know what a tardis is!). To be a geek is still to be socially awkward, obsessive, specialising in specific passions and yes, often sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. But the geeks are now speaking out. We’re finding our own, realising our numbers.
Geeks outnumber the other factions and this world is ours for the taking.