It takes a while for some people to catch on.
You’d think Steve Jobs’ financial success would give people a rather large clue concerning the worth of ingenuity and education – of pinpoint focus on something that you know you can do, and do well. Better than anyone. That a person can be both smart and confident. Intellectual and successful. That you can love something like a computer, or a game, or a flow-chart and rise to the top. That being skinny, or tall, or beautiful, or muscular, or popular isn’t half as sexy as being smart.
That not only does might not make right, but it also doesn’t give you the nice corner office or the bigger paychecks.
Still, in many schools and playgrounds around the country, sports players and jerks are ranked as the apex of the social pyramid, and boys and girls who can barely maintain a C average believe it is their place to mock and shun and generally torture those who have found something to love, to focus on, that is a little … different.
I was one of those different kids. Geek, nerd, A student. Fan of Star Trek, Heinlein, Dark Shadows. Wearer of floods and awkward sweaters and the size of glasses made popular by Sally Jesse Raphael. My college sweetheart was a math major. (Love you, honey!)
If only I could have stood up back then and owned it. Owned my Nerd-hood, my Geek-dom. If only I could have stepped up, shoulder to shoulder with so many others just like me who hid our faces in books hoping not to be picked on on the bus and unrepentantly admitted that I was a nerd. And damned proud of it. Made our own Breakfast Club of Whovians and Lovecraftians and StanLeeWannabes.
But, hey, that’s not cool. It’s not cool to love science fiction. Or gaming. Or drawing superheroes. Forget D&D or anime or the now admired graphic novel.
Who decided being a geek should be so shameful?
Unfortunately, some people still haven’t gotten the memo.
Take, for example, the SciFi network.
In 2009, among the techno-craze of iPods and iPhones and iEverything, when computers are in every walk of life, and the handheld and head-worn communication devices sported by just about every person on earth resemble Star Trek communicators, the SciFi Channel decided its name was just too “geeky.” Sent the wrong message. Appealed to too narrow a demographic. They decided, like the hangers-on swarming around the star football players in school, that egging on the bullies, laughing and pointing at the geeks as they fall under well-muscled onslaughts, was way more fun.
(And the name Syfy is so much better and cooler, isn’t it? ‘Coz everybody knows bad grammar and spelling is way cooler than that dang book-larnin’ stuff.)
Back in school, I wish I’d had someone to tell me that being a nerd is nothing to be embarrassed about instead of a whole bunch of people telling me to change. (Poor SciFi, I wish you’d had someone, too.)
Thank heavens, little newborn Victoria has someone to tell her just why being a geek is so awesome. Someone successful and articulate and kinda fantastic.
If you haven’t tuned into Wil Wheaton’s comments at Calgary Expo 2013, go now to his blog to listen: https://wilwheaton.net/2013/04/being-a-nerd-is-not-about-what-you-love-its-about-how-you-love-it/
If you have, raise a glass with me to Wil. Unashamed King of Nerd-hood.
“When I was a little boy, people really teased us about that – made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving these (weird) things.
Now that I’m an adult, I’m kind of a professional nerd and the world has changed a lot. And I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd, or being a geek is another word you’ll hear – I use the words interchangeably – it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.
So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love. I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports, it might be science, it might be reading, it might be fashion design. It might be building things, it might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that and the way you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome.”
Thank you, Wil. We are awesome.
Computer hacker extraordinaire –only for the right reasons – Alec Hardison of Leverage tells us that it’s the age of the geek.
So why aren’t the geeks rising in the middle school social strata? Why aren’t they named Homecoming King? Voted Class President? Left alone in the library after school? Hopefully, it’s because they’re too busy building their own computers or writing fantastic stories or creating new superheroes. I’m not quite sure I believe it, though.
Being a nerd – a geek – is awesome, Wil Wheaton, but it is a lot easier to say it from the stage in front of a happy, nerdy audience than it is in a high school locker room.