A fellow geek sent this along to me. Apparently this year, the Minnesota state high school quiz bowl tournament was broadcast on public television (i.e. real TV!). When my fellow geeks (Mad Latinist and Grishnash) and I made it to the final round of the state championship back in 1992, all we got to be on was the public school cable channel and a jazz radio station that constantly interrupted our games for traffic reports.
So yes, I'm a bit resentful that nerd-dom is more highly lauded today than it was durning my nerd-formative years. But then I get to say:
I WAS A NERD BEFORE IT WAS COOL!
And I'd like to think that my nerd- and geek-dom blazed a trail for the nerds and geeks of today to exist with less social stigma today than in ages past. Of course, a number of social trends have contributed to the "mainstreaming" of these once stigmatized sub-cultures:
- The ubiquity of video games. Once the province of uber-dorks, they now rival film and television for pre-eminence in popular culture.
- Bill Gates: He showed that being a computer geek can lead to being attacked by the government for abuse of monopolistic power and becoming loathed by huge swaths of the population. In other words, he showed it can be sexy. I really credit him with making geekdom a credible path to wealth and power in the popular consciousness. I also credit him for helping me make a tidy little wad of moula which subsidizes my current indolent lifestyle (of which this blog is certainly a part).
- The increased popularity of science fiction, comic books, and fantasy, particularly in film and on TV: X-Men, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Spider Man, Buffy, X-Files. What could be more geeky? What could be more mainstream?
- The Web. I had a website back in 1994. Now everyone has a frickin' website. We geeks have to retreat to some further corner of technology to maintain our special identity. Maybe I should declare that my primary world of habitation is Second Life or something, and start using that as my primary identity and insist all employers pay me in Linden Dollars. That would be geeky.
For more on nerds and geeks and the differences between them, see the post I link to from here.