Thursday, 15 September 2011

Geek and Proud!

This is my blog post for the Speak out with your Geek Out week, a movement set up, initially in reaction to the latest (well, it was the latest, but that was a couple of weeks ago, so I'm sure there's been another one since) geek bashing post on the internet. I'd link to it, but I've since discovered that the lady who wrote it gets paid per person who clicks onto the page, and suffice it to say, I don't want her to get any more money!

(I had intended to do multiple posts this week, but as this is the first night I've had in so far, and I'm not going to have another evening 'off' until Sunday, I think it's just going to be the one!)

The week is designed for all of us geeks, of whatever flavour, to consciously post about our hobbies and to show the world that we exist. Whilst there are enough of us who are loud and proud about being a geek, there are also plenty of people, children, teenagers and adults, who think that they are the only ones. There are also plenty of people, children, teenagers and adults, who still think that being geeky, particularly if it is to do with Sci-Fi / Fantasy, is a legitimate target for mocking. I had an example of that this very week, where a friend was very disparaging of the fact that I was going to be staying in on Thursday to watch the NZ broadcast of the first Doctor Who in this second-half series. If I'd said that I was staying in to watch whichever Rugby World Cup game was on at the same time (quick Google later - Russia vs USA), would I have had the same comments? Fortunately, I have a good enough relationship with my friend (and a thick enough skin) that I could take his attitude in the tongue in cheek manner in which it was obviously intended, but I was a little bit disappointed that the comments had come up in the first place.

I was fortunate in that my parents had plenty of sci-fi and fantasy round the house when I was young; I look back on the bedtime stories that I was read, and the majority of the ones which stood out seem to have been sci-fi or fantasy of one sort or another. That didn't stop me from being teased about it at school, but it meant that I always knew that I wasn't a complete outcast - if my parents liked it, it had to be ok!

From that young age, with the discovery of (amongst many others) John Wyndham, J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Robin Jarvis, Roald Dahl, I moved on to Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clark and so many more. I read the school library out of sci-fi and fantasy books - it was a very proud moment when the head librarian asked me for recommendations for more books to get in. As a family, we watched series such as Red Dwarf, Robot Wars, Neverwhere, Crime Traveller and Scrap Heap Challenge. Now, as an adult, my primary reading material is either sci-fi or fantasy (though at the moment, my bedside book is called Cooking for Geeks, all about the science of cookery, and I'm reading a business book on the way to and from work), I very rarely watch anything that doesn't have some form of sci-fi or fantasy content, I go board gaming once a month (and occasionally have friends round for 'in between' gaming sessions), I belong to two science fiction clubs, as well as an orchestra (slightly classical-music geek, too) and I'm starting to turn into a bit of a craft geek, just because I don't have enough things going on (I am teaching myself to crochet, and really rather loving it). So - I may be a 'scatter gun' geek instead of a one-hobby, in depth geek, but I'm still proud of my obsessions.

So - why it is important that those of us who are loud and proud about our geekly ways are able to shout about it? We need to show those who are being teased, whether it is gentle mocking or outright bullying, that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that they are not alone. The internet is a great socialiser for this - there is a world of knowledge and connections at people's fingertips that just wasn't there when I was a teenager, but there are still people who feel alone, or ashamed of not being 'normal' in what they enjoy.

However, I have news for them. Anybody can be a geek, about pretty much any subject - it isn't just those of us who have the entire Terry Pratchett collection, or who can quote whole chapters from the HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or lines from the Goon Show). How is the football fan, who plasters his bedroom wall with posters of teams through the ages, goes to every game he can, sleeps under a team duvet and has replica home and away strips hanging in his wardrobe any different to a Star Trek fan, who has posters of the stars hanging over her bed, watches every episode when it comes on TV, sleeps under an Enterprise duvet and has a replica uniform hanging in her wardrobe? It just takes knowledge and enthusiasm to be a geek, whether you recognise that's what you are or not.

I sign off with one of my favourite quotations from The Divine Comedy (MasterMind) (another latent obsession of mine): "So tell me what the hell is normal, and who the hell is sane? And why the hell care anyway? The dreams that we have had are gonna prove that we're all mad, and that's OK."


John Toon said...

The football fan also memorises decades' worth of trivia and sits around with her/his mates arguing about canon (well, the offside rule, perhaps) - just like a Doctor Who fan!

Not sure whether I could make a case that the five-a-side pub team counts as Live Action Role-Playing, but terrace chants are *definitely* filking.

AliceK said...

One of the best 'compliments' I ever received was to be described as "left-field and interesting". I am delighted to be so :-)
Fellow proud geek.

Wisewebwoman said...

I find labelling so limiting. We are certainly more than "geeks" or "footies" or Nascar fans or gourmets for that matter.
I have a bit of so much in me and roll out some OCDs to supplement these a lot of the time ;-).

For instance, the last short story competition I entered was a sci-fi and I don't do sci-fi stories. Ha!

R J Adams said...

Red Dwarf? My absolutely most favorite TV show of all time. I don't consider myself a geek, and I'm certainly not a sci-fi nut, but I'm a great believer in 'each to their own'.
After all, I believe it was Commander Spock who once said: "Infinite diversity in infinite combinations...
symbolizing the elements that create truth and beauty."
But, don't ask me to name the episode!