Sunday, May 28, 2006

If only geek-chic existed when I was in high school...

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:
 
  1. The ubiquity of video games. Once the province of uber-dorks, they now rival film and television for pre-eminence in popular culture.
  2. 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).
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, when you were a senior, you did have a group of equally geeky freshmen who thought you were cool.

9:15 PM, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

True, I did. And I am grateful and I hope my geeky existence provided some sort of help. But they key phrase here is "equally geeky". I think geeks have always admired and been admired other geeks. But it seems like the broader, non-geek culture is now more willing to engage in geek admiriation. And it is this new willingness of which I am somewhat jealous. Of course, I'm still a geek, so maybe it's not too late for me to take advantage of this trend. But I think external admiration is extremely important to younger people, particularly adolescents. Now, in my 30s, I think it wouldn't be as fun. Besides, now that I am married, I could not parlay any new found social status into more nookie. And for an introvert like myself, that is really one of the few worthwhile uses of social status.

10:22 PM, May 29, 2006  

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