I’m a Geek from way back.
And no, I don’t mean I used to tour with sideshows back in the twenties and thirties biting the heads off of chickens. I mean I fell in love with what we now call Geek culture from an early age. From watching reruns of the original Star Trek when I was four or five years old, to the first time I saw Planet of the Apes around the same age, I fell in love all things Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. I remember staying up late at night with my dad to watch the local Creature Feature show and marveling at the classic Universal Monsters and Hammer Horror films. I have the fondest of memories of staying up way past my bedtime to watch Vincent Price and Alice Cooper in the Welcome to My Nightmare special when it first aired.
I don’t feel the need to let my Geek Flag fly to up my Geek Cred, but I wanted to make it clear from the get-go of this blog post that I identify as a Geek.
That said, I’ve noticed a trend from my Geek friends that I find disturbing. The trend is a reverse discrimination from fellow Geeks and Nerds towards the people that used to discriminate against us, and the things that those people love.
I remember all of the shit I took in grade school for my intense love of Star Wars. I was into everything Star Wars, and I wasn’t afraid to show it. That earned me the nickname of “The Star Wars Freak” from many who didn’t understand the movie or my deep love for it. I didn’t bother me much. In fact, I remember wearing that intended insult like a badge of honor. I loved what I loved and fuck the naysayers if they didn’t understand.
Today I’m still geeky about many things. I’m a football fanatic, and I love my team, the Seattle Seahawks, as much as I love Geek culture. I’m a passionate music lover—especially Metal—and I can spend hours geeking out about music, even when it drives my friends crazy. Everybody is geeky about something. Whether it’s movies, sports, music, video games, cars, science, politics, history or even knitting, passion is passion. People are passionate about a variety of things that bring them happiness or comfort. It’s human nature.
I’ve noticed lately as I post about sports that some of my Geek friends call me out, or call others out, by making snide comments or marginalizing a love of sports as something for meatheads and jocks. This disappoints me on many levels, but what makes me sadder is that the same people who were likely marginalized as kids and made to feel like outsiders react by showing those same prejudices toward things they don’t understand.
If you don’t understand something, or don’t like it, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there is something inherently wrong with judging that thing based on your own biases and prejudices. We all have our opinions, and we’re entitled by free speech to share them, but I have a problem when the comments become personal, dismissive and discriminatory. It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things, but it doesn’t give someone the right to piss on the things that others love and have a genuine geeky passion for.
I’m calling on my Geek friends to show some tolerance and compassion and to be the bigger person in the virtual room. There are plenty of Geeky things I don’t like or understand—Anime, LARPING and the SCA to name a few—but I have friends that are passionate about these things. More power to them! If you love something that’s not hurting someone else, let your passion be known! If you’re cruising social media and see posts for subjects you’re not into, skim past them. Nothing is making you read my multiple posts about the Super Bowl bound Seahawks, or the latest news about a thirty- year-old Metal band I dig.
The current trend of reverse discrimination might stem from the fact that what used to be a subculture of Geekdom has now become mainstream. It’s become cool to be a Geek in many areas of our society. It’s become commonplace for me to have conversations with folks that have never picked up a comic book in their life and discuss the latest movie featuring characters from Marvel and D.C. Comics. This has led to some Geeks and Nerds I know calling out others as being “Fake Geeks.” Don’t believe me? Just Google the term “Fake Geek” and see all of the vitriol being posted on the subject. I welcome these geeky conversations with people who have just joined the party I’ve been a part of all my life! There’s plenty of room at this party for newcomers, and there’s plenty of geeky booze to drink. It’s not for me to judge the level of these newcomer’s passions!
I’m asking one simple thing from my fellow Geeks and Nerds out there: Think before you criticize what you don’t understand. Will your words hurt? If you read, or heard those words criticizing the things you love, how would you feel? Since every Geek I know has been hurt by others tearing down what they love, shouldn’t we know better than to judge others for their passions?
Now go out there, let your Geek Flag fly high and salute all of the other flags you see flying. Treat them with respect and acceptance—even if you don’t understand why anybody would run them up the flagpole.