Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He has 13 cats and loves you.
We know who you are. You shine like a beacon. Geeks aren’t blind: We see you, geek poser.
We know it’s suddenly cool to be smart and passionate. Those qualities earned us derision and exclusion from our peers at one point, and the term "geek" was thrown at us like it was meant to stab us in the heart. But now, it's become something of an honorific.
These days, people actually want to be us - kind of.
I’ve seen geek posers whip out their iPhones while wearing the Secret Wars or Domokun t-shirts they bought at Target for $9.99, telling their friends what a great time they're going to have at DragonCon or San Diego ComicCon, as if those are the happening parties of the day. They say things like, "Deep down, I'm a geek" or "I just have to embrace my inner geek" or "I bet you didn't know I'm such a geek!"
It reminds me of the late '80s, when teenagers would wear Vision Street Wear or Vans shoes with a Bones Brigade T-shirt because they saw Christian Slater do it in that totally rad movie “Gleaming the Cube” (which, if you weren't alive then, you may know as "A Brother's Justice" - one of the few examples in film history in which a simple title change made a movie go from utterly awesome to completely crappy).
Or the early '90s, when everyone was wearing Z. Cavaricci pants and Cross-Colors jackets because MC Hammer was all over MTV singing "U Can't Touch This." Or when every white kid over the age of 13 was wearing flannel with corduroy and Doc Martens because Pearl Jam was the hot band of the day.
For some reason, "geek" has become the label that the mainstream has placed on a culture that mixes comic book fandom, sci-fi and fantasy movies, and tech consumerism. And those things all together have become very popular. So the trend is to call yourself "geeky" if you like them.
But that's the problem. Those things aren't the sum total of geekdom. Geek isn't a scene. It's not a fashion. It's not a lifestyle. It's a life – my life. Geek is who you are. When geek posers are off doing the next trendy thing and "geek" is, like, so 2012, we will still be us.
Sure, we'll still be at the midnight showings of the latest Marvel- and DC-related films. When the Harry Potter septology is played across an entire weekend at that one artsy theater, we'll be there.
We'll also still be attending maker faires where we sit in rooms that smell of solder and sawdust as we tweak Arduino projects to get those LEDs flashing in just the right order. We'll still be hacking our Xbox Kinects to become motion sensors for Nerf auto-cannons. We'll still be playing tabletop role-playing and card games.
We will be exploring alternate realities, both in our heads and in meatspace. Because we want what's next. We're addicted to learning, to exploration. We're hooked on sharing and making and living and breathing what it is we love.
"Geek" is what happens when passion overrides your need to be accepted or fit in. It's loving something so much that you throw yourself wholeheartedly into it.
Unlike other "scene"-based social movements, we aren't wearing T-shirts with our favorite comic book or sci-fi heroes to advertise a status or identify ourselves as a member of a group. We are wearing them because we love the fact that there's a cool T-shirt with Wolverine ripping his way through it. We love that there's a poster with Serenity flying across it. Some of us even like dressing up as the characters from the comics and shows we love during conventions because we love those characters so much, we want to pay tribute to them.
It’s a lot of work to be a geek: to be smart and passionate while ostracized and isolated because our intensity makes us weird. It is absolutely easier to buy the shirt and wear the geek label, because by doing so, you get to become smart and passionate by association.
I'll be the first to admit, right now, we geeks are indulging a little. It feels good to be validated in mainstream society and, even if it's a whisper, to say “we told you so.”
If you've ever met a real geek, you know that the second you mention something they are into - comic books, “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” cars, mystery books or any other niche - they light up. Even the most introverted and quiet geek suddenly begins talking, asking you what you're into and what you've seen and oh, have you checked out this other thing? I have it ripped on my thumb drive; let me give you a copy!
It's because, more than validation, geeks seek to share.
We want to know what you're into so we can fill you in on what you've missed or find out from you what we've missed. We devour information and want more than anything to share it with people who are interested. And the Holy Grail for a geek is finding that special willing, open person we can take under our wing and show a whole new subculture.
"You're into the ‘Avengers’ movie?" we'll ask. "Ever heard of Jack Kirby? No? Well, let me show you what you've missed."
I become giddy the second I meet someone who loves art but hasn't seen or read "Akira." I get equally giddy when I meet people who haven't seen “The Wire” or read Zelazny's “Chronicles of Amber” or heard Jeff Buckley's music (and several hundred other things I care very much about).
Sure, I love being the guy they get to point to and say, "He introduced me to it." But much more important, I like having someone new to talk to about this thing I love. I love knowing there's a new joy in your life you didn't previously have.
We geeks have spent our entire lives in pursuit of joy. And we couldn't care less if you like our shirt that has a picture of what brings us joy.
We just wish you'd quit pretending. Because you look and sound silly - but worse, you're actually being myopic and rather condescending toward a much richer culture.
If you insist on being a tourist in our culture, so be it. Just know this: It’s OK to learn the language. We’ll be happy to teach you!
Real nice design and fantastic subject matter, practically nothing else we need : D. SophieMirage http://bryskyemedia.tumblr.com
You could certainly see your skills in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.
Using a label, any label, as an excuse to make another human being appear inferior (even if it's in your own mind), just lets other see what an asshat you are. I don't need a label to love what I love, and I certainly don't need the "goodwill" of people like you to validate me.
You're a complete idiot joe and your website's a joke.
The idea that being a "real" geek (and therefore worthy of acceptance by geek society) is subject to some list of specific parameters is pretty freaking ludicrous.
When I was a kid, I was labeled geeky because I used big words, didn't play sports, enjoyed reading comic books and preferred playing with action figures or games on my computer (before collaborative online gaming was even an idea)more than socializing with other kids.
At school, I sat at "The Geek Table" with a kid who had a learning disability, another kid who had asthma and glasses, a fat kid and a kid who had been pulled from our school a year earlier to attend a school for the gifted, but returned because his parents' financial situation changed (the nasty rumor was that they found he wasn't gifted at all).
We were all called Geeks ("nerd" had gone out of fashion by then). And we all accepted each other, probably because no one else would have us. We didn't tell the LD kid that he couldn't sit with us because he couldn't name all the original members of the Justice League (his only experience with superheroes being the Super Friends TV series). We didn't tell the fat kid to get lost because he'd never read The Lord of the Rings or even the Hobbit.
A few years later, when the first stoner/burn-out kids started to emerge at our school, they sat with us, too. And we welcomed them. We even played Dungeons and Dragons with them.
The very fact that this author feels the need to call anyone out as a "poser" and tell them how foolish they look when they behave a certain way is indicative that he has either forgotten or never known what being a Geek is really all about.
Excellent points Childe. Sounds like you had a genuinely nice group of friends, geek or not.
I have to agree Childe. My two friends and I were definitely geeks- D and D, Dr. Who, comics etc....but we ran with every group in school because we were comfortable with ourselves- stoners, punks, computer and science aficionados, drama and music crowd, jocks, NHS kids- no one cares if you're real with them!
I agree with what you've written, but I can't help but ask:
Isn't there a Dark Tower you should be heading towards?
Childe Roland to the blogging scene came simply doesn't have the same ring to it.
Is that Fred Durst?
Great article Joe. The Serenity comment made me very happy.
I'm going to do that sad hipster thing and say that I was geeky before it was cool. That said, the REAL GEEKS are from India and China, because that's who is getting all the new jobs at the tech company I work for.
So faux geeks, get yourself a work ethic and preferably a CS degree, because otherwise, you're ALL being out-geeked by foreign engineers.
So far a few of them have had "visa problems". Right. A little money in the right places, and they'll be in like flynn. And taking YOUR high-paying geek job. Except of course, you don't want it, because you still think mommy and daddy are impressed with your stupid comic t-shirts and Hot Topic mall gear.
Your rant is so jerky I feel like I just had a snack. Who are you so mad at anyway? Are you sure you are a geek? There is nothing particularly geeky about being mean.
I don't mind the phenomenon. It makes my t-shirts easier to find :D. My wife still thinks that rpgs and painting minis is hopeless though, so it still has some room to spread.
"I was a geek before it was cool"
DEATH TO HIPSTERS
I'm a tabletop nerd. not so much a geek. I mean I get the chic culture yadda yadda.. but Nerd has been my moniker for many years. Nerd isn't quite as chic.. and I'm more than ok with that.
Lambda Lambda Lambda!
Great list, very interesting especially the one on the Manifesto which sparked something. Thanks for the good advices.jordan 13 flints 2010
You gotta FIGHT, for your RIGHT, to be GEEEEEEEKYYYYY!
Scenario: I run into someone that claims to "love" a certain character. I exclaim, "Me too!" However, after barely a minute of conversation I find they know little more than the character's appearance in a single movie and they don't seem to really understand the plot. This alone doesn't deter me. What bothers me is if they have no interest to further explore the character in conversation. This character they claim to love. It's possible that I have geeked out and been an information bore. It's a definite possibility, I'll give you that. However, my impression is that their "love" for the character is superficial. I find this disappointing, but it's their loss, or not. They likely have other passions. At any rate, I am content to have the ranks of "geeks" swelled with geeks of all levels of intensity. Why? However long it lasts, geek chic is kinda comfy. It's nice to have so much media and merchandise widely available.
I think some people say they like/love something just to be nice or friendly.
Yeah, you may have guessed: socializing is not my strongest skill.
"Geek" here seems to have been used to describe people who are passionate and intense specifically about science fiction, technology, and fantasy genres. When in fact, passionate intense people have all sorts of things they get passionate and intense about. In making my earlier point that "posers," a term I used merely in context of the article, are not going to be interested I meant to explain that people who are not passionate and intense are not interested in delving into anything so deeply and with such gusto. Others who are passionate and intense can at least understand being that way, so while they may not share your topic of interest, they can at least understand why you are "geeking" out about it.
To be clear, the actual definition of "geek" has nothing to do with passion or intensity. The term originated to describe someone dis-likable, repugnant, different. "This word comes from English dialect geek, geck: fool, freak; from Low German geck, from Middle Low German. The root geck still survives in Dutch and Afrikaans gek: crazy, as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut: geek's hat, used in carnivals." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek
In my observation, technology has made it possible for people who are passionate about specific interests to find each other and thus share those interests on a broader scope then before. This has made creating media to satisfy those specific interests more profitable then in the past since reaching the people who will buy it is much easier and cheaper. I think that is why products that speak to comic books, super heroes, science fiction, fantasy, and of course technology are easier to find and has become accessible to a broader audience. This is not limited to those genres though. People who are into collecting Beanie Babies, people who love history, people who are crazy for anything with the American Flag on it or Snoopy or Hiking or etc... all have an easier time finding what they want and finding others who want to talk about that stuff to.
Finally, I'd like to point out that there are exclusionary jerks in every interest group just as there are stupid people, angry people, smart people, nice people, etc... in every interest group to.
Yeah! Get out of our culture! We want to be exclusionary tooo!
What? Take this opportunity to show "posers" what the geek culture is all about? Embrace the "posers" and let them into an imaginative world of technology, science and creativity? Move towards a society of acceptance?
Nah, I'm busy learning High English and writing scathing articles about non-geeks.
This article is filled with B.S. and makes the author seem like he is a "geek" just so he can be different and let the world know how different he is. This xenophobic ideology about geekdom is why the geek culture is misunderstood in the first place. The author should be supporting the idea that "hacking a Kindle" or playing Dungeons and Dragons is just another hobby like football or politics, not that it's somehow in its own world.
Way to perpetuate stereotypes and support an exclusionary stance. Cultural trends happen, deal with it and work on something more constructive.
While I don't agree with the negative tone, I very much agree with the idea that hobbies are hobbies. How do some hobbies make it into the definition of geekery and not others?
No, I think he is distinguishing real geeks from the posers. And I get what you're saying–that geeks should seek to share the real geek culture with those posers, but I don't think it'd work. These folks aren't acting like geeks because they're exploring the culture; they're just doing it because they think it's cool. When the next "thing" comes along, they'll be off to pretend to be involved in it. They have no interest in learning; they just want to be in on whatever's hot at the moment.
The only logical response to this kind of pitiful bloviation. END GEEK PRIDE NOW.
Smart people are probably doing physics problems for fun, not playing video games. Oh, and they're definitely not writing articles about how smart they are.
I'm pretty sure there are plenty of intelligent people capable of discourse on the topic that don't spend their time on quantum conundrums-you seem just as exclusive as he does-and almost as big of a bore.
Joe – The fact you actually believe a poser would want to learn more is evidence of your genuine geekiness. Bless you, geekboy.
The fact that you use words like "poser" shows that you were never bullied for liking geeky things and think of "geekdom" as just another exclusionary umbrella. Shame shame on you.ALL ARE WELCOME OR NONE AT ALL. Of you like Avengers or Joss Whedon or just play fantasy football-PICK UP YOUR GEEK SHIRT. WE ARE ALL INVITED TO THE PARTY OR THERE IS NO PARTY.
What the frack? For the record, I was thoroughly teased in high-school for attending dressed up as Nellie Bly on a regular non-Halloween basis. I used to hang out with a group of people whom, based on the definitions put forth in this post and your own, were genuine geeks. I stopped hanging out with them because they referred to all those who were different form them as "mundanes." When I asked them why they said it was because they had been teased so badly in high-school they felt it was justified. These were grownups in their 30s and 40s, ages by which holding onto to such resentment is unhealthy and immature. I have no idea if I am a geek or not and honestly, I stopped caring what people thought of me by the time I hit middle school. Shame on you for making assumptions about someone you know nothing about and defining geekdom in such narrow, exclusionary terms.
Is this guy a geek, or an effete hipster? Most geeks simply wouldn't care enough about being socially acceptable to write a (too long) essay about it.
This guy isn't a "Geek" he's a hypocrite.
This article is very pretentious. Why must people be labeled? Just live your life and be happy and stop worrying about your "image" or others "image".
I'm a geek raising two little geek girls (5 and 2) We makje stops at the comic store every week and have huge collection of action figures (and in my case puppets as that is my particular area of Geekdom)
It is neat seeing some of the the things we have always loved being mainstream but your right that is just a fad.
Good for you! I'm a 'geek girl', altho I would have to say that at nearly 50, I'm more of a 'geek woman'. Girl geeks are the best!
Geek to me is simply being obsessive or passionate about a hobby. That's it. "Hipster" definitely more accurately describes someone who is a generalist, and up on the latest geeky "trends". Not calling OP a hipster, but I have heard both the terms thrown around.
The guy who is totally obsessed with his chosen vice, THAT is a geek. Someone who is obsessed with say, Civil War history, or music, etc. Generalist knowledge about geeky trends makes you trendy; not a geek. I think the article expresses that well by elaborating the importance of being passionate. Good write up.
And then he duns everyone late for the party and sets out a pecking order. Great. Remember that JP got here first everyone!-to the party that is open to ALL. Big deal.
I was born a geek. I was a little Sheldon Cooper. If there was a heroic fantasy series that began with "The chronicles of.." I read it. After my father finally burned my dungeons & dragons books, made me go out for a sports team, got over my introverted nature (in the geek-laden drama club) – and discovered girls (!) I went to college, joined a frat, partied my ass off – became a serious student of business MBA / computer science. I have to do a gut check to not explain the issues in the LOTR movies. I keep my geek tied up in a basement of my soul, like in a final scene of Pink Floyd's "The Wall". I never let him out anymore, ever. I do not embrace him, I hose him down in the dark and haze my "inner geek".
Untie your geek and come join your tribe, my brother. We await you.
Rick, that is no way to live! Release the geek from the basement and let your geek flag shine!
Sheldon Cooper.... ::sigh:: really? Come on, Big Bang theory is part of this geek poser culture the author is talking about! BBT only came on the air as part of this wave of geek branding. Sure, it occasionally embodies aspects of true geek culture, but it's usually only for a laugh. I'm sure many of the actors are true geeks themselves, but many of the cameos (Hawking, Nimoy) are their attempts to pander to the geek chic audience. Like all sitcoms BBT is merely the media regurgitating a trend its seeing into a TV show for mass consumption, not true geekdom.
You must be horrible at your job. I've learned that in MBA circles the guy who makes the money gets the props no matter his tastes. Get to work and make the staff watch Doctor Who or get a job you like.
I love this so much!! I am a girl gamer and a geek, I play World of Warcraft and I am so tired of the poser geek girls out there just trying to get attention! They buy a faction tshirt and wear fake glasses and they think that makes them a geek gamer girl. I mean come on, do they even know about Portal and Call of Duty and Skyrim? Nope they are just tourists playing WoW because their boyfriends are and because it gets them attention. Sad!
Lol, yeah. I've been into video games and manga since I was... Geez, 11? Lol...! (Btw I love Skyrim; Odahviing is my fav dragon, lol) :P And I love DC...! I play DC Universe Online on my PS3.. Lol. Oh, and there are a lot of guys who pose like girls on video games. XD
And I play BF3 with my boyfriend! D: (I met him playing video games!)
It's horrible when outsiders try to fit in, isn't it? I'm glad "Geek" stuff is hot so I can alienate other "uncool" newcomers.
Dude, you're not a geek. You're a hipster.
Good to see that CNN is now posting rants better suited to Facebook, the home of narcissism.
Reblogged this on The Mask of Reason and commented:
Someone who gets it. This is what being a geek is.
GEEK: Exclusionary clique-ish jerk. Got it. Call Webster's
i love you too
Sorry to disappoint, the author of article is a nerd and not a geek. Someone please explain the difference to him.
Oh great. Geekery has hipsters now.
Yes, yes, I know, you were a geek before geek was cool. So was I. That doesn't matter; life isn't a game of firsties. Frankly, I'm glad to see so many people at least flying the geek flag, even if they aren't "real" geeks, because it means that I have the opportunity to make these people into real geeks, to show them what they've been missing all their lives. Like you, I love to share, and if people are at least geek-ish, they're more likely to listen when I do.
But it doesn't count until you remind them winkingly of the fact that you were here first! Right?
Anyone can be a geek of something. I am a Sims geek. My future Husband is your definition of geek. I love him and his quiet geeky ways. But my father is a very vocal, outgoing person and he is a car geek and weaponry geek. Ask him anything on either one of those subjects and he wont stop talking for almost two weeks. Everyone has their own definition and i agree with Joe. Geekdom is a hobby that consumes you, your time and your money and slowly becomes an obsession. Its not a bad thing by any means. Its just slightly different than the Geek stereotype that was written about in this article. Proud to be a Geek/Gamer wife that finds a new xbox at 2am when his gets red ring during Skyrim the night it comes out and love my alone time while my man is playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. I just want to make people understand that there are millions of types of geeks and that there is a little bit of geek in all of us.
Dude, you are a little too hung up on labels, just be yourself.
"Geek" is what happens when passion overrides your need to be accepted or fit in. It's loving something so much that you throw yourself wholeheartedly into it. – Sorry but this is not geek, not even close.
If you are in your thirties and are still calling people "posers" it is time to grow up a bit. Like what you want to like, be passionate about it, but stop with the stupid judgments.
This is the comment of the year. EVERYONE JUST BE YOURSELF PLEASE. (and be happy with who everyone else is)
Here here! Well said!
I love you!
This dude just does not understand The Scene, man. Talk about a poseur.
But DragonCon is the happening party of the day/year.
Wow! Even the geeks are narcissists now!
Another preachy I am better then you article? Seriously?
I'm sorry, but reducing "The Wire" to something geeky suggests a misunderstanding of the work. Omar Little was not created to sell merch. It's also problematic to describe geekdom solely in terms of economic consumption.
Since all of those things are favorites as well, I must now check out the "Wire", thus validating your statement. Well done, sir!
One of the best 'geek' related articles ever on this site! Will we see you again at Dragon*Con this year?
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