You Are Not an Oppressed Minority

So there's a rain a comin'. Like many things on the internet, it is fucking stupid.

So first of all, there's this group the societyforgeekadvancement.com who have apparently decided to coopt the word "geek" to mean something like "user of social media technology."

The people involved apparently weren't aware that the whole "take back the night" campaign about the words "geek" and "geekdom" had been ongoing since the late nineties.

So naturally, the real geeks got annoyed at these johnny come lately's popping up out of nowhere trying to co-opt their identity. Such as it is.

Which prompted a response on twitter and, naturally, tor.com defending "real" geeks who play D&D and watch Star Trek from "fake" geeks who just spend a lot of time Twittering from their iPhones.

The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot, and frankly everyone involved is an asshole.

First off, the attempt to reclaim the word geek is moronic and insensitive. It puts this kind of social pressure to be cool on the same level as campaigns by gays, blacks, and other groups to "take back" the slurs against them and remove their power to do harm.' This is ridiculous in that it places a word like "geek" on the same platform with a word like "nigger" or "faggot" or "dyke" when it belongs nowhere near them.

Let's take a brief history at what the word ACTUALLY means, and then we'll come back to the issue of why everyone involved in this controversy is a fucking asshole.

According to the OED, the word geek originally is descended from middle german "geck" meaning one who is insane. The term enters into general American parlance via circus folk, as documented by linguist David Maurer. A traditional sideshow geek was a part of a freakshow. Except geeks aren't real freaks, as noted sideshow performer Jim Rose has noted about his sometime colleague The Enigma, they are just people stupid enough to put all kinds of dumb stuff into their mouths, chew it up, and swallow it. The attraction of the geek is the grossout. It's a very visceral and base thrill which mostly padded out the 10-in-1 style sideshow freak performances of traditional traveling circuses. It's not that interesting an attraction, generally, as is evidenced by the fact that geeks could rarely be performing in a Single-O Grindshow of the sort advocated by Magician, Artist, and Author Doug Higley, who is perhaps the foremost expert on the practicalities of such entertainment in America today.

So then where does the word go from there? Well, it becomes an insult. Geeks were generally known for a tall, long knecked, gangly appearance, and generally had a certain air of stupidity about them. As such, anybody who's seen a few geeks and wants to get under somebodies skin, well, he calls that guy a geek. It's very childish behavior, which is probably why it most often occurs among adolescents and the use of the word thereby was largely formed among children only to be abandoned and ignored by adults as they "outgrew" the strict stratification of adolescent american subcultures.

Over time, this morphed into the general understanding that a geek was really just a kid who didn't fit in for some reason and was picked on by other kids. This then was differentiated from "nerd" or "dork" through the usual construction process of the overly elaborate taxonomies found among most adolescents who are rapidly trying to figure out exactly who they are and how they fit. It's even a healthy sort of a thing for a kid to do, to ask himself what is this thing that I am and what is it about me that makes me that thing, and do I want to be that thing?

What is less healthy is the sort of arrested development to be found in the "take back geek" movement wherein a bunch of adults who really ought to have their shit more together at this point are sitting around arguing about what a geek is or is not. What a geek is, by definition and common usage, is a kid who is socially awkward, doesn't fit in, and may or may not be interested in things that his peers consider "weird" or "geeky."

It is not a person who, as an adult, is interested in a range of hobbies that generally either display a lack of intellectual curiosity (e.g. people who spend a lot of time reading but are really only interested in fantastical literature and who rarely take the interest in literature beyond a sort of passive consumption of whatever heavily promoted mass market paperback trash gets shoved down their throats) or a sort of single minded obsession with activities that requires a lot of anti-social behavior and rigidly formalist thinking to acquire mastery (e.g. Eric S. Raymond or that guy who developed the Bourne Again Shell). Those people are not geeks. There's a whole other word for people like that. There are several in fact. Myself, I prefer "loser." Pick yr own if you like. Asshole, Jackass, twit, dweeb, or whatever you like. But let's leave the kids out of it, shall we? And let's stop pretending that just because there are some girls with big tits who have their own websites and write publicly about matters concerning technofetishism for an audience mostly composed of a drooling mass of awkward white guys who are barely able to dress themselves that there is something "cool" about being one of these people. There just isn't. And there never will be.

That having been said, that all of these people either want to wear the word as a fashion accessory or claim it as a sort of marginal identity bespeaks a vapidness and an insensitivity to actual identity politick issues that is, frankly, stunning. That a group that is mostly over-privileged, wealthy, white, and that has access to all the power that being highly educated in the sciences provides such people is able, with a straight face, to claim marginalized status is at BEST a sort of clueless irony. More realistically, it becomes a pretty repugnant parody of genuine struggles for equality currently being waged by the actually marginalized in our society. And more to the point, it is precisely these latter day geeks as they call themselves who are the beneficiaries of institutional coercion against those marginalized persons. And that, my friends, is what makes them not geeks, not nerds, not even losers. That is what makes the grade a, bone fide, dyed in the wool assholes.

And I'll stand by that definition.

Comments

More confrontational than

More confrontational than even I would have put it, but cuts right to the point. Well done sir.

meh.

meh.

As your history of the word

As your history of the word shows, 'geek' has changed meaning a lot over the years. But you've missed the latest meaning. Geek does not today mean misfit teenager, or former misfit teenager, it's a label of cultural self-identification used by both teenagers and relatively sane and responsible adults.

You're right that geeks should not pretend to be victims (without justification), or obsess about what a geek "really" is. As with all such labels, this is unhealthy and pointless.

But you overreach by claiming that the label itself is meaningless.

For a better putdown of geek culture, see the blog Stuff Geeks Love. It's more brutal than your "they're all assholes"-angle, because it focuses on what geeks are instead of what we call ourselves. Those descriptions would apply even if the label changed. Yours wouldn't.

That site is freakin

That site is freakin brilliant.

What I mean to imply is that

What I mean to imply is that the argument over what it really means is meaningless and coarse. I have no problem with people who like sci fi, comics, play a lot of video games or role playing games, are interested in computers etc. Those are all things that are true of me. I love sci fi. As a matter of fact, for years the top Philip K. Dick site on the net quoted my review of Confessions of a Crap Artist as an authoritative description of the book. I am a great admirer of Ian M. Banks, Michael Moorcock, Dick, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and any number of sci fi writers. I feel the same way about comics. And While I no longer partake, large parts of my life have been given over to playing Dungeons and Dragons. I have every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I do fucking hate Star Trek tho.

My point is that none of these things make me a geek. I'm not a geek. I'm maybe a little bit nerdy, but I am also a gregarious and well rounded individual with interests that extend beyond the stereotype. As do, most likely, most of the people who self-apply the term geek. My beef is with people who take on the word geek as an identity and then seek to shape it into a subculture, becoming insular, standoffish, and even forgiving of awkward antisocial behavior as a result. See for example the "Open Source Boobs Project."

Those are the people I have a problem with. But those people, like I said, aren't geeks. They're dicks.

What you saying Willis all

What you saying Willis all white folk don't like Star Trek? Now you done fucked up and set the black MAN back 100 years. Did you white boys hear? They done elected a black Prezziident, even though his momma was white. Is that not a real bitch you have a president that the white people won't claim even though he is white. One question for you HX, are Jews still Jews? Fucking with you Eric. The only difference between then and now on the internet is that fuckwads have caused a traffice jam.

I find your point here to be

I find your point here to be mis-thrust, with a major logical inconsistency. Language and self-identity are both constructs, I believe we can agree on. So, if a word has its meaning changed (and not for the first time) to be used roughly synonymous with nerd, and both words made to be more positively view'd by those who are given such labels by themselves or by others, then who are you to try to hold back the tide of changing tongues? And as far as identity goes, I see no real difference between a person's obsession with some form of media being disruptive to their life and a person's obsession with gender identity sans actual physiological dysphoria being disruptive to their life. Either way, they have a problem, sure, and could both be loosely termed 'losers'. Yet most 'geeks', or at least those I have had dealings with, do not have disruptive lives. They are just nerds like myself, people who are interested in subcultures of genre fiction and roleplaying, vidya, anime and manga, etc.

As for whether they are oppressed, I'd say no more than the average person is in an America still unrecovered from the reigns of several mediocre to terrible drone strikers in chief. Then again, I also don't think black people are any more oppressed for their skin color than white people are (and are just as capable of committing atrocities against other races), but rather by their own cycles of poverty. The only way for the world to move past racisms is by, well, moving past it, and reactionary articles like this are a miniscule part of what is dragging us back into that abyss each day.

I started reading this blog a few days ago because i thought it would be useful as a wannabe writer to read other opinions of writing, but this constant regressive leftism is leaving a bad taste, a taste all to familiar from the news outlets that the well-reasoned Sargon and his like dismantle every day. You've used Jezebel and the Mary Sue as sources in some posts on here, even. Sorry.