Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Geek Label

There are all kinds of labels.  They're on the food we eat, the clothes we buy, and the cars we drive.  Labels help us decide between the heart-healthy, low-fat, sodium-free wheat bread and the cinnamon streusel, raisin filled pastry.  Personally, I'd pick the pastry no matter what the label says but, you get the point.  A label even makes sure you wash your favorite Geeky T-Shirt correctly so it doesn't shrink so badly that it only fits one of your collectible action figures.  Labels are important, but the ones that affect us most aren't on the things we own, they're the ones we apply to each other.


The smart one.  The athletic one.  The quiet one.  These are the kinds of things adults say about kids and most little kids couldn't care less, but as we get older these labels matter.  They matter, a lot.  Jock.  Goth.  Geek.  These labels will simultaneously make you a part of one group while completely excluding you from another.  Sometimes you're happy to be a part of a particular group and the label is welcome.  If you're on the football team and someone calls you a Jock, you're probably not going to be upset.  But if someone calls you a Geek, well, that could be an entirely different story.  This label is not one that people strive to earn.  It's one that many people fear.

I'm a Geek.  I happily waited in line in my Star Wars shirt to get tickets for Episode One.  I waited in yet another line at GenCon just so I could give Wil Wheaton a die for his collection and pick up his latest book.  One of my proudest moments was when my kids managed to do the Vulcan greeting correctly.  I don't hide the fact that I'm a Geek.  There are many people just like me who are proud of this label, but there are too many closet Geeks.  Their fear of this one little word is what gives the word it's stigma.  If you're a Geek, don't hide it, embrace it.  It'll feel even better than buying that delicious loaf of cinnamon streusel bread.

4 comments:

  1. I really agree with the concept of not hiding who you are. Hiding just increases the idea that one should be ashamed of something and then that gets internalized and continues the cycle.

    I'm proud of who I am to. I was made fun of relentlessly as a kid for being the girl with glasses who loved reading (among many other things) and I think that desensitized me to caring what others think.

    I should write about this sometime too! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Woohoo! I picked up and accepted my geek/nerd title in high school and now I pretty consistently don't even try to deny it. I'm actually typing this from a bus stop on UMass campus wearing my tanooki Mario shirt. Yup. I'm a geek and proud of it!

    Rosalind
    Girls Are Geeks

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  3. I am very proud of it. It did take me until sometime right around high school to get it, but still. :)

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  4. Sing if from the mountains!

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