Because you asked…
I had a good number of individuals ask for my perspective on the recent slew of articles attempting to define geekdom and establish the clubhouse rules. While I think being disingenuous to one’s self in order to get ahead or get attention is an unhealthy practice (mostly to the individual perpetuating the fallacy), I’m not fond of this whole “us versus them” mentality permeating geek culture as of late.
My Opinion: No one has the right to define who is and isn’t a geek. Being a geek isn’t the same as being a doctor. You don’t need formal training or a license. You’re a geek if you decide to be one, and let’s face it, you can be a geek about nearly anything. On a personal note, I don’t appreciate being put on a pedestal as a “genuine geek” and compared to others in an attempt to debase them. It taints an otherwise much-appreciated sentiment of support.
I’m somewhat allergic to labels, especially when they become exclusionary. Being a geek isn’t a contest. Being a geek is about being passionate. Enthusiastic. Genuine. It’s about being fucking fearless. It’s about celebrating what makes you unique, and finding a common bond with others. No one should ever be cornered into presenting his or her geek card to prove the magnitude of their passion – whether you’re a level 99 geek or just geek-curious.
What’s been most bothersome about several of these high profile articles is the hypocrisy of judging others for the notion that “they” are judging us and infiltrating our subculture sanctuaries. If you run into a “fish out of water” at a convention, why berate them? Do they have any less right to be there than you? Does the fact that they aren’t a “geek” (set by your personal standards) make them less worthy of respect on a human level? Why not try chatting with them to find a common ground?
Specifically in regards to “booth babes,” while I firmly believe that it’s better to have genuine fans or trained professionals rep products at conventions, it isn’t fair to denigrate paid models for doing their job. If you take issue with the practice, take issue with the industry – not the women themselves. You should probably stop posing with them in photos, too.
Being a geek wasn’t always cool, and we should remember that. It’s easy to get defensive about something you love, and taking the high road is difficult. I don’t know about you, but the best part of my personal geekdom is finding kindred spirits that understand and relate to my particular passions. I’d love for that to happen more frequently. For that reason, I welcome fresh blood to our culture. Growth is good. I know this is an idealistic opinion, but it’s mine.
I’ll stop here to keep this short, as anything I’ve said has most likely been echoed by those far more articulate than I. I think it all boils down to respect. Let’s practice it.
Photo via Brainless Tails