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On What It Is To Be A Geek

The resident geek authority in our office, Skot Thayer, shares with us what it is that makes a geek out of everyone. Odds are, you're one too.

I’m a Geek. I spend my days absorbed in other worlds and the uncanny nooks of this one. Books, music, comics, movies, and games are fodder for my soul. My geekery is heavily integrated into my social life and many of my relationships. Quite literally I wear it on my sleeve.
 
There's a distinct possibility that you are a geek too and not even know it. It’s ok, don’t panic. Everything is going to be okay. Everyone is a geek about something. Some may find this abhorrent to their identity of self. Don’t. Embrace the geek within you. Draw on its power. Use it to make yourself powerful. You don’t have to be a geek about Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or something old and boring to still have geek-cred. There are car geeks, wine and beer geeks, music geeks, even sports geeks. Pretty much any hobby or obsession could be labeled “geek”. Every person has at least one thing that they are passionate and knowledgeable about and that thing makes them a geek.
 
If you’re a person who is concerned about the identity of John Snow’s mother, and the lineage of the Targaryens, you’re a geek. Someone who knows more about the politics of Westeros than they do about how the country they live in works? Geek. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular gateways to a traditional sort of Geekdom. As much as you may try to hide it, your obsession over the fate of Kit Harrington and his gorgeous hair does, really, make you a geek (sorry Farah). 
 
Don’t confuse 'geek' with 'nerd'. The two are not mutually exclusive and share plenty of overlap but still there is a difference. A geek tends to be more outwardly social, having a social group that they hang out with, more able to relate and communicate with 'norms', and cultivate relationships, more willing to share their knowledge or action figure collection with others. Nerds, though, tend to be more socially introverted and academically oriented. A nerd is the one who learns programming languages or goes to school to become an engineer or some other lucrative but unequivocally nerdy occupation. Not that geeks can’t be successful either, it’s just that certain subjects have more of a nerdy vibe than a geeky one. Does that make sense? Oh, hang on, I found this graph.
 
Graphs help
 
That blue tag in the upper right corner, the one at the very apex of geeky and nerdy, #gamer, is one of the most disputed realms of the Geek v Nerd discussion. Video games are a shared yet divisive part of Geekdom/Nerdery. While both parties spend inordinate amounts of time immersed in virtual worlds, a geek, more trend-oriented and addicted to pop-culture, will spend more of his time in newer games like Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher, or Fallout. A geek might have a Nintendo 64 collecting dust under the entertainment center, or some emulators on his phone. A nerd, on the other hand, is more likely to have a vast array of cartridges and discs from gaming’s bygone eras. More comfortable with an Atari Joystick in their hands than a PlayStation Dualshock. Nerds are even still making games for outdated systems to this day
 
Some people, typically 'norms' that are in denial of their own geekery, look down on geeks and nerds, seeing them as weird, unstable, and difficult to understand. This sentiment has decreased significantly in the past few decades. The rise of geek culture into the mainstream and “Geek Chic” has helped to alleviate the suffering and ridicule that geeks have endured in the past. Still there are some things that malign us geeks. People still speak as if our skills are useless and our knowledge merely trivia, irrelevant to the 'real' world and thus worthless. That is, until they need our help figuring out how to share a Google document (tip: it’s the big blue share button) or can’t quite figure out how to make their Apple product do exactly what they want. Keep in mind, Apple is a company that spends more than the entire GDP of some developing countries on making their products' user experiences easy and intuitive, and still some people need a geek’s help to download pictures to their laptop.

And don’t even get me started on The Big Bang Theory. Its skewed perspective and ridicule dampens geek culture not empowers it. The show uses geek references alone as punchlines, a character merely mentioning Dungeons & Dragons sends the studio audience rolling, and the show is often times misogynistic and homophobic. Additionally, its portrayal of a potentially Autistic person is crass and I hate it. I told you don’t get me started, see? 
 
At the recent premiere for Episode VII, I had the opportunity to meet an extraordinary group of Cario’s geek community, who were surprisingly unaware of each others’ existence. It was inspiring and a little heart-warming to meet so many passionate geeks here in Cairo. They all said the same thing: that they didn’t have a platform to celebrate the nerdiness and geekery of the geek scene in the city. Luckily I know just the place. 
 

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