Letters of Mass Construction

Geek Gatekeeper

It appears the “what makes a geek” question has reared its ugly head again. Miss USA Alyssa Campanella got it started by gushing her geekness. She is beautiful, so of course she must be pandering. While reading the current fight I noticed one of the arguments against being able to claim your eternal nerdhood or geektasticness was being bullied. Getting picked last. One person (Matt Raub) talked about not being popular or liking sports. I have always considered myself a geek and nerd. I feel like I need to make a confession here though. I can shoot a basketball with regularity into the hoop from 21 feet out. I can dribble the ball through my legs, around my back, with both hands, and make you look foolish when you try to guard me. I can shoot left and right handed. I have never been picked last. I show off to my students at school by making trick shots. One of them is shooting a three pointer with my eyes closed. I am passionate about sports. I almost wept when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

I have been bullied at various times in my life but I don’t think this is an exclusive club. I think everyone has been bullied at one time or another. I wasn’t popular in high school but I have to admit some of that was by choice. I was lost, confused, and angry. Not the easiest person to be a friend with. The people I played sports with really didn’t understand me any better than the people I played Dungeons and Dragons with. My problem was I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I stood for. This is called growing up. I got called a nerd. I got funny looks when I pulled out the comics in class. People called me names. None of these things made me a nerd anymore than being good at sports didn’t make me one.

I am a geek because I want to be. It is how I define myself because of what the culture means today. It wasn’t that long ago nerd and geek were words used to hurt, I understand that. Things change though. They must because a geek used to be a carnival performer who performed disgusting acts. Words change. Cultures change. Being a geek is not an exclusive club. Trying to make it one is no better than what many geeks claim was done to them as a child. I don’t want to take anyone’s past, pain, or history away from them but holding onto it so you can claim some control over a word is an impossible task. There is no rule book. There is no standard. People define themselves and if they choose to define it as geek then all I can say is welcome. If the culture of geek is something new for you I can promise there are plenty of guides around who would love to spend a few minutes sharing what they love. There is no geek gatekeeper deciding who gets in and who doesn’t. Nor should there ever be.

Comics are my mythology. Science fiction and fantasy are my passion. I saw Star Wars in the theaters as a child over thirty times (I lost track after that). I am a life long sports fan. I can shoot a little round ball into a little round hoop. I happen to think I am a very pretty man (I stole this from Chistopher Titus). I am a geek but the word does not define me. I define me. I don’t choose my friends because they say they are geeks. I choose them because we connect. Sometimes that connection has nothing to do with what we like. I belong to a culture that calls itself geek. We are big, small, different colors. We are all beautiful. Sometimes that beauty happens to fall inside the bubble that society deems desirable. None of these things matter. I happen to think we spend way too much time on this planet building up walls to divide ourselves. You want to call yourself a geek no one can stop you. Nor should anyone want to. Time to stop fighting over this silly argument and start fighting about things that really matter. Like DC Comics blowing up their universe, that shit is epic.

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4 Responses to “Geek Gatekeeper”

  1. Paul says:

    I think if one calls oneself a geek, one might be pandering. Let others make the determination. If one isn’t what they consider a geek they won’t accept one regardless of what one calls oneself. Adopting the name for oneself is suspicious.

    • csdaley says:

      I am not sure I follow. I can’t call myself a geek because I am pandering? There isn’t much logic to that. I am what I am. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks. Caring what others thought about me growing up caused a lot of my self-esteem problems. I am certainly not going to care now.

  2. Ruth says:

    Who gets to be the initial arbiter, then, Paul? If I call myself a geek, is that suspicious? Do I have to wait for my boss to call me a geek or is she unqualified? Do we have to wait for men like you to do it, or does having read/watched SFF since I hit puberty qualify me to call other people geeks?

    Maybe we should all wait for the geek power rings to choose us! Of course. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.

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