Most of my friends and acquaintances could be described as geeks. By association, I probably am one as well. Most of us probably come off as eccentric and non-mainstream folks. We enjoy specialized past-times, hobbies, and reading material that focuses on particular topics.
The word “geek” has historically been a pejorative term used in an abusive manner against teens and young adults who don’t fit into the mainstream. An especially offensive, old novelty song, “Pencil Neck Geek” by Freddie Blassie comes to mind. Admittedly, one has to be a geek to even be familiar with the song.
When we use the word self-referentially, we own geek without shame. We’re proud of our interests in complicated, brainiac subjects. We weren’t necessarily straight-A students, but a few of us were. Being a straight-A student doesn’t automatically qualify people for geekdom. There are plenty of jocks and cheerleader types who receive all A’s on their report cards. A geek is someone who leans towards eccentricity in their pursuits in life.
I’ve mentioned my past roommate/coworker Paul in the past, on this blog. He is perhaps the most geeky, nerdy person I’ve ever known. He is an opera lover who also enjoys traditional country music. In his spare time, he bicycles to a lake to fish. What makes Paul especially geeky, is his love of passenger trains. He is a walking encyclopedia about railroad companies regarding what they named their premier routes and trains.
For instance, Paul was enamored with the “North Coast Limited”. This was an express train that ran from Chicago to Seattle. It passed through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington State. Paul had traveled on the train numerous times. He can describe the differences in service level before the Northern Pacific merger with Great Northern Railway and Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad and after the merger before dissolution of the passenger service. He has the photographs to prove his journeys, too. Paul has ridden many other trains and can enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of all of them. Paul is truly a proud train geek.
If you can think of a topic, there is probably a geek or organization of geeks that indulges in it. One of the most popular groups of geeks are Trekkies, or geeks who are obsessed with “Star Trek”. There are so many Trekkies that they are more of a sub-culture than a collection of geeks. However, most of them self-identify as geeks.
Anyway, the world is full of geeks of various specialties. When it comes down to brass tacks, geeks make civilization work. Some of the residual negativity about geekdom is that plenty of people fear change and technology. One way to deal with insecurity is to mock and deride others. This is why geeks and nerds are often dismissed as social outcasts.
What I’m trying to say today, is that being a geek is OK. We are all geeky about one thing or another. This passion is part of what defines our uniqueness. It’s better to be obsessed with something than to be apathetic about the world. A geek is someone who loves a subject so much that all the details are important.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes activist, actor, writer, (Hikaru Sulu from “Star Trek”), George Takei. “‘Star Trek’ fans totally accepted my sexual orientation. There are a great number of LGBT people across ‘Star Trek’ fandom. The show always appealed to people that were different–the geeks and the nerds, and the people who felt they were not quite a part of society, sometimes because they may have been gay or lesbian.”
BTW: I’m building back up to my old posting record. It’s now 1,700 days of posts without any gaps.