It occurred to me the other day that I might be some sort of a geek. That I really didn’t make the connection until now is puzzling. After all, we are known by the company we keep.
It should have been obvious. My friends have all been nerds or geeks of one type or another. Through the years, lots of my pals have been theater nerds. In high school, my bestie was a major camera geek. One room mate was and probably still is a railroad geek. Another room mate was and is likely still an electronics nerd. As time has gone by, I’ve been friends with political wonks and activism geeks. A couple of friends are computer geeks. There have also been a few meteorology geeks who have appeared in my life.
A few of my friends have been geeks about various things at different periods of their lives. I think of them as serial geeks. People might categorize me as being a serial-geek. In many cases, my friends’ obsessions rubbed off on me. In hindsight, becoming different types of geeks has been like going through various rites of passage. However, if pressed to categorize my overall inner geek, I’d have to say I’m a philosophy nerd, because philosophy has fascinated me ever since high school days. My passions generally do not get other people fired up.
I had not embraced the idea of being any type of nerd or geek because the labels have had such negative connotations until fairly recently. The decades-old stereotype of nerds and geeks encompassed people who are unstylish, conventionally unattractive, and socially inept. In the past, when thinking of geeks, we envisioned socially awkward intellectuals. The most famous popular parody of an intellectual geek is Jerry Lewis’ character in the movie, “The Nutty Professor”. In other words, geekdom had been seen as a negative place to be.
During the past few decades, geekdom has been redefined, probably by the geeks and nerds themselves. Geeks aren’t only defined by outward signs like pale complexion, plastic pocket protectors and Scotch tape-repaired eyeglasses. Geeks seem to be everywhere we look these days. Lots of these geeks are social icons or are at least fairly cool folks.
There are plenty of people who are popular culture geeks. One of the most enduring types of geeks are Trekkies–people who are obsessed with “Star Trek” culture. The program has long appealed to nerds and geeks. Many Trekkies have felt they are on the margins of society. My ex-boyfriend, another serial-geek, was a Trekkie for many years. While I appreciate “Star Trek” shows and the original characters, I don’t go overboard over the shows to the extent that he did.
The term, geek, has evolved away from its old definitions. A geek is no longer the outcast, awkward teen. The new geeks are the sports geeks, military geeks, music geeks, video game geeks, computer geeks, and many others. The new geeks are folks who are wildly passionate about their obsessions.
I’ve always been attracted to the rebellious folks, the oddballs, quirky people, and geeks. They are good people to know. I’m finally knowing myself by the company I keep.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes director, actor, comedian Adam McKay. “I think there’s a tendency to think geeks and nerds are just sweet guys that were picked on, but that hasn’t been my experience. I’m certainly not like that, in a lot of ways.”