What is geek? Or who.
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If you don’t understand half of the jokes on The Big Bang Theory, that doesn’t mean you’re not a geek. If you can’t explain why Captain Picard is superior to Captain Kirk – that may be a problem. And it’s a problem because geek can be cool. Geek can rock.
It’s been suggested that the historical usage of the term, geek, refers to 20th Century circus performers that challenged conventional perceptions and experience. The bearded woman. The dwarf. The man or woman who would bite the heads off of live chickens. But the term, geek, came back into currency in the last twenty something years and it came back to mean something else entirely.
On the one hand, geek came to be substituted for nerd – a socially and emotionally challenged, highly intelligent, obsessively compulsive, introverted, fearful personality type. At least that’s what Dr. Seuss seems to imply. [grin] But the present usage of geek is almost sexy and, almost, cool. Geeks can be desirable and geeks might just save the world. Or, at least, we would like to believe that geeks will save the world.
While nerds tend to barricade themselves in their domain of interests and ignore the challenges of ordinary human experience, geeks want to live and they want to feel alive. Geeks get excited about the things that people get excited about – supercars, intercontinental business class flights, and attractive, exciting lovers. All of which means that the geek wants to own acceptance, approval, praise, celebration and, oh yeah, a whole lotta love.
Both geeks and nerds will overthink things. They are information junkies but that doesn’t mean they know how to effectively use information, filter and sift it, make good decisions or act upon it. The geek, however, makes a better effort to derive some kind of value from the data collection. Their motivation to do so, of course, is money, power and influence. Of course, most of them won’t admit to their ambitions. Because it would look bad. It would look Chatlanian.
Beyond the general distinction between the nerd and the modern geek, there’s several behaviors by which you can recognize the new, sexy geek. Below are five behaviors that I have observed:
The new geek knows how to groom and dress up for the occasion. They don’t have to turn it on all the time but when they do, they do it well. They go for the cut, color and style and you don’t get that at a barbershop or low cost, franchise hair cuttery. Male geeks get manicures and pedicures. They shower daily and know a little something about maintenance cosmetics and fragrance.
Of course, you are likely to find them in a bathrobe, underwear or birthday suit at home where no one sees them.
The new geek knows how to relate to people that are interesting to them – colleagues, friends, lovers and successful geeks. They have some understanding of how to respect, cherish, support and savor the people meaningful to them. They try to remember birthdays, they choose and give thoughtful gifts and they expect likewise. They can be devoted friends and lovers but only as long as their friends and lovers are interesting, intense, and live up to their expectations.
The 30 something new geek has 3 or more friends, was involved in 3 or more romantic relationships and has more than 100 “friends” across social media. They talk about the bad shit is going on in the Ukraine, Egypt, Nigeria and elsewhere.
Though it might be tempting to suggest the new geek is a neo-epicurean, modesty and, perhaps, virtue is not basic to the new geek think. Like the neo-epicurean, the new geek is a materialist. They love life, the world, and the unrestricted promise (false or otherwise) of happiness and pleasure. Obviously, the new geek makes a poor missionary, patriot, revolutionary, saint or soldier.
Unlike the neo-epicurean, the new geek seeks self-gratification with a little (or lot of) license and zeal. They gush about the things that give them happy – Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest give them a voice for such material, self-centered self-expression. They make passionate customers., but also fickle if you can’t keep it interesting.
Any kind of spirituality a new geek does always comes with a heavy handed materialism. Not a shallow or ruthless materialism – but an undeniable interest in the physical world and one’s physical well-being. The new geek is very comfortable with the paradox of wanting to save the world without the self-denials that come with a deep spirituality.
Geeks love games and not just computer or traditional parlor games. They love to game life, excel, compete, and receive honor for their achievements. Every geek has to know and have played Sid Meier’s Civilization and played God-level and won against near impossible odds. It’s the ultimate litmus test of geek sexual performance. Or I jest.
Seriously, the new geek games in one way or another. Everquest, World of Warcraft, Poker, casino games, day trading, etc. – two or more of these things should evoke nostalgia, fond memories of glory and comrades, and a shit-eating grin for the new geek. Candy Crush and Farmville do not count.
The new geek is not simply egocentric, but his/her egocentrism expands to the far reaches of the universe, multiverse, life, time and culture. So, yeah, the new geek likes sci-fi, fantasy and/or end of the world content. The new geek knows something about Doctor Who, Mad Max, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Terminator, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Any of which can seem outrageous when such higher consciousness is self-expressed in cosplay or other geeky antics.
But there’s another side to this higher consciousness that is sensible – curiosity, open-mindedness, problem-solving, creativity, empathy, and a deeper connection with the world, with others and with creation. This is often expressed by a desire to do the right thing, save the world, or make a difference.
The new geek gives money to causes because that’s how we live out our secret super powers. Batman, Superman and all the X-Men may inspire us, but we can slap down the spare change and make things happen. Five bucks here, 20 bucks there and $100 – more than a few times in a year. They might not have the time to give to the homeless, poor or whatever but they know if they don’t throw money at several causes and fundraisers – they aren’t doing what they can.
Are you the sexy, new kind of geek?
Is there anything else that you would modify or add to this list? Share them with us in the comments! Because the new geek makes awesome comments.
Stan Faryna is writing an epic sci-fi, fantasy, end-of-the-world story that is going to be a multi-week New York Times best-seller and hit HBO TV series. Or so he hopes.