Pop Quiz! When cut, do you bleed Vulcan green? Do you check your Midi-chlorian count daily? Is it your firm belief that the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything is “42”. Is your other car a TARDIS? Then you, sir or madam or changeling, are a bona fide geek! Ring-Ring, Reality Calling! But, don’t fret! It’s all good!
Dating back to the 1500s, the definition of “geek” — a variant of the word geck, a term of Low German/Dutch origin, meaning “fool, simpleton, or dupe” — has changed hands significantly in the past five centuries. In fact, a cursory glance of the word in any number of dictionaries and referenced sources will conjure up a cornucopia of meanings:
Bookworm. Dweeb. Fan-boy. Otaku. Trekkies. Whovians. Thespians. Roleplayers. Video Game Addicts. Comic Book Aficionados. Cosplayers. Goths. Hipster. Lucha Libre. Geeks come in a grand assortment of delectable flavors and rainbow hues. Yet, no matter how you slap-brand it, there’s a lingering taint that permeates geek status, often pre- and misconceived by the credulous masses. Introvert, socially awkward, aloof, and elitist are just a few, inspired xenophobic ideologies attributed to geeks. Few go out of their way to maliciously ostracize geeks, but even the most kind-hearted of folks can't help but harbor these prejudices.
For instance, addressing a self-professed geek as a “nerd” might be construed as belittling, depending on how the term is applied, by whom, and to whom. Though both designations are often used interchangeably, they are not the same — one attributed to being hopelessly conventional, the other bizarre and outlandish. Apparently coined in 1950 by a curmudgeonly Dr Seuss character from If I Ran the Zoo [“A nerkle, a nerd, and a seersucker too!”], a nerd could be viewed as someone with an extremely intense interest or fascination in an academic field of study (often an obscure field), or similar “cerebral” pursuit.
Though there’s no known cure for the common geek — take heart, you’re not alone! There’s millions out there just like you in a multitude of varied forms, shapes, sizes, and vintages, who lead happy, productive, albeit abnormal lives. Geeks stray from the herd of ordinary people, bridging stereotypes, gender gaps, international boundaries, religious affiliations, political leanings, and sexual orientation. Just look around you. I bet there’s a closet geek sitting or standing right next to you even as you read this in the Laundromat, or library, or subway, or McDonald’s, or adjacent cubicle, or (Gasp!) bathroom stall (Don’t stare! How rude!). Your peers, your in-laws, your neighbor, your postman, your hairdresser, the convenience store clerk, Democrats — once persecuted and looked upon with ridicule, trepidation, and disdain, many geeks are coming out of their proverbial shell, tearing away the fabric of stigma that society has, unceremoniously, straight-jacketed them in. They’re everywhere… they are legion… and they are growing.
Although, initially, being coined a geek was derogatory in nature, the term has evolved into something more complimentary, celebratory… a heraldry, of sorts, where those so christened flaunt their status like a badge of honor, thumping their emblem-blazoned chests with vehement pride! We don’t just embrace our geekiness — we feel it up, French kiss it, and then buy it a drink! Geek is chic!
With geekdom taking root in the rich soil of subculture, sprouting beyond its niche status, and branching out into the mainstream, there’s no place on the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster’s green earth and Cthulhu’s infinitely vast and imponderable cosmos that a geek’s carbon footprint hasn’t been found. From the slew of prime-time television and cable-direct offerings like The Big Bang Theory (my mother gets it, now), Eureka, The IT Crowd, Mythbusters, Ghost Hunters, Geek Love, and, most recently, Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men, tons of comic book, sci-fi/fantasy literary, and gaming properties continuously making the theatrical rounds including The Avengers, Battleship, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games, and John Carter, and visionaries and trendsetters like Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Stephen Hawking, and Stephen King doing what they do best — there’s no denying the influence and impact that geeks have in our everyday, bump-n-grind, on-the-go existence. Geeks are here to stay!
Thus, in the eternally resonant words of Spock — “Live long, and prosper.” And, so we shall.
|Todd A. Kaylor writes stuff for GTM. He also stalks celebrities, which generally ends with a court order and bad feelings (see Adrianne picture above). ‘Nuff said!|