Stop making geek culture be about how you were bullied


Update: More thoughts here.

To my mind, being a geek is a lot like being gay or being atheist.  These are things that can be completely invisible to an outsider.  No one in high school knew I went home and wrote Hercules fanfiction.  No one knew the fathomless depths of my geekery.

Greta Christina has a wonderful post about how, as being gay has become more normal, the people who are out are also becoming more normal.  Normal, to most outcast’s minds, is a bad thing.  If there’s one thing you can comfort yourself with when you’re an outsider, it’s the feeling that you’re better than the people who are, as you see it, “insiders”.  Greta says the same thing is going to happen with atheists — we’re going to stop being statistically smart and amazing on average, and start being just sort of average.  Because what we’re working towards is acceptance, and when coming out isn’t difficult, more people come out — no bravery required, no willful pride necessary, any and all may apply.

I think that this is the same as what has happened with geek culture, and it has pissed off a lot of old geeks.  They feel that new geeks have not paid their dues to be able to call themselves that.  You weren’t bullied?  Well, then you’re not a *real* geek.  I used the term “hipster geek” in my previous post, which I basically took from John Scalzi, and while that expresses the attitude accurately in some ways, it doesn’t explain the why.

Being a geek in high school for most people is hard.  It is as hard in some places as being out and gay.  And unlike being gay, there is no nerd-jock alliance in high school.  There’s no Geek Student Alliance.  When, to be who you are, you have had to go through hell, it can be very irritating that there are people who didn’t go through hell and claim to be the same as you.

“Oh, you grew up in San Francisco with hippie parents who drove you and your same-sex partner to the movies before you could drive, well I grew up in the Deep South where coming out meant I was beaten up every day, therefore you don’t really know what it’s like to be gay.”

We all want to be understood and when you’re tortured, you want to have gotten something from it.  If you’re tortured and it doesn’t mean anything, that’s so much worse than if your torture earns you something, some sort of credibility, some part of a special club of people who overcame.  But the reality is, being bullied doesn’t earn you anything.  It doesn’t make you a better person, it doesn’t make you higher ranked in the world of geekdom, gayness, or atheism, and it doesn’t even always give you insight into the world, though sometimes it can.  Being bullied is simply a horrible thing that happens to people.

Someone calling themselves “…” responded to my previous post about who gets to be a geek and said the following things:

Some of us paid our dues is what I’m saying. “sexism in geekdom”? When I was growing up, all – and I mean all – girls at my school would have rather been sent to Saudi Arabia than be called geeks.

And that, in a nutshell, is why geek culture is male dominated.

Anyway, my point was that there are some of us who paid our dues in that area. It’s not about being “hipster”, it’s about a certain annoyance that comes from people who would have treated you like you were carrying a radioactive strain of leprosy back in the day now finding it’s cool to like LotR. It’s irritating to say the least.

I’m fully aware that that tiny handful of geek girls who existed – and they were a tiny handful, don’t even pretend otherwise – had as rough a time as the rest of us. But I find this rapid retroactive identification with geekdom… suspicious. Yes, it’s quite astonishing how many people were geeks back then nowadays. It’s a wonder that there was any other kind of person around in the schools at all… It’s a bit like the Jewish population explosion in vichy France, isn’t it?

That’s true, but it is also true that girls were some of the most viciously anti-geek ones, and it is true that many of the blows we soaked up was because the guys in question wanted to impress the pretty girls, who were not above egging that sort of thing on.

There’s another point; yes, it sucks that girls got ostracised at times by other geeks, but being a geek meant you got ostracised by definition. And geek fratricide is hardly uknown. If you objected to one group, why didn’t you form your own? That’s what I did, and let me tell you, I didn’t get any approval or help. You talk about the community… back then there wasn’t a community. There was just what you and the tiny handful like you could put together. You scraped it together as best you could, and only for one reason, because you loved it, and if you couldn’t – tough. People would be disgusted that you even tried, let alone that you were upset when it didn’t work.

I am simply repeating, for the last time now, that there are very good reasons why geekdom is traditionally clannish and insular, and it might be nice to see that reflected. You know, just for accuracy and politeness sakes.

You read this and you can see, he is pissed off. Leaving aside his troubling loathing of women because of how he perceived the “pretty girls” in high school, he is pissed off that he had to work so damn hard at something that other people aren’t having to work hard at.  He is pissed off that some girls made fun of him in high school and made him feel bad about himself and that some girls now claim that they are geeks too.  Maybe even some of those same girls!

I think this attitude is incredibly fucked up.  I think it’s time to let go of the anger.

Most people feel like outcasts in high school, even those people the rest of us thought were cool. What the commenter is doing, and what a lot of geek guys are doing, is creating definitions of what is cool enough for them to accept you.  You have to pass their “geek” test.  As a geek, I find this border patrolling deeply embarrassing.

As it happens, when I was in high school, most of the self-described geeks I knew were girls. Monty Python club? Mostly girls. Yearbook, newspaper, lit mag, math team, academic decathlon, religion club… all of these were dominated by girls. I don’t interpret that to mean that boys are less legitimately geeky.

Was I bullied?  Sure.  At home moreso than by my peers, but both.  I was told I would always be unhappy, that I would never find a boy who would date me, that “guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses”, that I was too fat even for nerds to want to date, that if I didn’t drink I wasn’t a real teenager, that playing games with my friends was going to make me die a virgin, that I would marry the first boy that would have me out of desperation, that not going to the football games or pep rallies signified a deeply troubled mind, that hanging out with my teachers instead of my fellow students was bad.

And by boys who were geeks I was told that I was too intimidating, that a girl who was better at them than a game was a problem, that a girl who knew more about movies than them was cool but not really, that I could kick their ass on Star Wars trivia was threatening.

And if a kid today can go through high school watching movies and writing fanfiction and having monty python club and participating in acadec and reading comics and no one thinks less of them for it: AWESOME. If everyone, including Joe Peacock’s “6 of 9s”, wants to embrace their inner weirdness and smartness and they can do that without it being embarrassing, fuck yeah! That’s amazing! I wish I had been so lucky, and maybe me pushing the boundaries a little helped them. Maybe I made the world a little bit better for people who like the same things I like!  Maybe the world sucks a little less now than it did then.  Or maybe now I am trying to make the bullying meaningful.

Being a geek shouldn’t be about a persecution complex.  It shouldn’t be about being better than other people.  It shouldn’t be about bullying people who want to be your friend now because of what you think they may have been like in high school.  It should be about embracing people for being themselves and being grateful that they can be themselves when they are with you.

Comments

  1. 'Tis Himself says

    I went to high school in the 1960s and I was bullied for geekish behavior. (I was the class valedictorian, how geeky is that?) If some geeks don’t get bullied now then hooray for them! I’m very glad that folks don’t have to go through the horrid experiences I went through.

    I know being bullied has shaped my life in ways I would prefer it hadn’t. I’ve had therapy for the anger resulting from years of being bullied. I’ve never been to a high school reunion because I don’t want to see some of those people ever again.

    Being bullied is not something to be proud of. I loathe and despise bullies and I hope nobody ever has to undergo bullying. That some people who would have been bullied a generation or so again aren’t being bullied now is A GOOD THING! I’m quite happy for them.

    And yes, as Dan Savage says, it does get better.

  2. says

    May I suggest a correction?

    “Being bullied is simply a horrible thing that happens to people.”

    That makes it sound like bullying were a force of nature.

    Better:

    “Being bullied is simply a horrible thing that some people do to other people.”

    Or something like that.

  3. Ashley F. Miller says

    I phrased it like that because I felt it better conveyed the sense that there wasn’t a reason for it, nothing innate in the person being bullied.

  4. says

    I remember when I saw a group of goth/emo kids walking down the street in my husband’s home town seemingly without fear.

    My husband and I laughed and considered yelling out the window, “You’re welcome!”

  5. ... says

    Well, I’m glad to see that I am sufficiently important to have merited such a long, self-pitying post about the need to let go of anger DAMMIT!

    But a few minor corrections:

    1. I do not ‘loathe women'; I simply pointed out that the ostracism was universal and it was part and parcel of those dynamics.

    2. Nowhere – you can go back and look, though my comments may mysteriously change over time – did I say anything about being “better” than you, and specifically said the opposite.

    3. I also said that it was a very good thing that people did not get into such pain over their interests.

    I simply pointed out that there is a good reason why geekdom has traditionally been clannish and insular, and it would be nice if that was taken on board and remembered. Just out of courtesy’s sake. Be glad of your good fortune, and let go of the anger; you’ll feel better.

  6. says

    But there is a reason for it: Someone wants to and chooses to bully.

    I don’t think that meaning you wanted gets across well that way, but it’s only a part of a bigger peace and there is context.

    Still, it stood out to me.

  7. 'Tis Himself says

    let go of the anger; you’ll feel better.

    Seems to be this is something you’re having problems with.

  8. DJMankiwictz says

    Being bullied is not a good thing. This is true. Being “proud” of being bullied is backwards. In fact I’d say there’s more to this. Some bullies actually come up with some sort of moral obligation about “teaching” people social skills, thinking it’s for the victim’s own good. That’s a messed up attitude.

    That said, I can say I did gain a few things from bullying. Not social skills, that’s for sure. The things I gained were a sense of empathy for other’s pain for going through similar things and a sort of perseverance. These things, mind you, are skills one ONLY needs in a world where bullying exists, and thus not justification FOR bullying’s existence or to exalt in one’s own pain. I’m just saying that there was SOME value in it, for me at least.

    I think where at least some of this attitude of “elite former victims” comes from is seeing some members of your formerly picked on subculture actually engaging in bullying behavior themselves. One can’t help but think “if they had only gone through what I went through, they wouldn’t be doing that” at times, but that’s a mistaken reaction. People can be taught empathy even without having to live through such things, and that’s just a failing from them or whoever was supposed to teach them somewhere along the line.

  9. ... says

    Being bullied is not a good thing. This is true. Being “proud” of being bullied is backwards.

    Couldn’t agree with you more, and said so then (though our esteemed blog hostess never seems to read it). One of the silly things that the good development of acceptance has been this view of geeks as “diamonds in the rough” or whatever; actually, if you’re subject to abuse and chronic ostracism, it doesn’t do much for your social skills and ability to get on with the rest of humanity.

  10. 'Tis Himself says

    if you’re subject to abuse and chronic ostracism, it doesn’t do much for your social skills and ability to get on with the rest of humanity.

    I was bullied in high school. Now I’m a senior executive for a largish company and commodore* of a yacht club. You can develop social skills. It may take some effort, but it can be done.

    *Or as I call it, commode door.

  11. ... says

    You can develop social skills. It may take some effort, but it can be done.

    Not disagreeing with you here.

  12. w00dview says

    I have found that this “us vs them” attitude crops up a lot in gaming communities. For example, due to the mainstreaming of video games thanks to the Wii and smart phone titles such as Angry Birds many “hardcore” gamers seem to have a seemingly venomous hatred for what they deem casual players. If you are seen to be enjoying certain titles, genres or consoles you are not a “real” gamer and your opinions can be dismissed. According to these gamers, not only are casual games destroying the industry but anyone who does enjoy them is a simpleton.

    Personally I think it is great that more people are playing video games because that means more variety and encourages the medium to move forward in new and exciting ways. These hardcore types just seem bitter that everyone can get into their hobby and it smacks of ivory tower snobbery.

  13. smhll says

    Can we have a multidimensional Kinsey scale for geekiness? I’m not uber-geeky, not into all parts of the subculture, but was consistently the best student in math classes and was president of the Science Club. (I think that was an accident, though.)

    Most people feel like outcasts in high school, even those people the rest of us thought were cool.

    I encourage everyone who hasn’t seen it already to watch the Buffy episode “Earshot”. (From Season 3. Can’t quote the episode number without looking it up.)

    I want to start drawing Venn diagrams. Woman is a big category. There may be a little bit of overlap between women who were mean to geeks in high school and women who have viewed and enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies, but it is a very partial overlap.

    (My high school boyfriend went to Cal Tech after high school. This doesn’t qualify me as a geek myself, but shouldn’t I be eligible for a Geek Lovers of America T-shirt? Full naked contact with a qualified STEM intellectual should get me some kind of rep with the faction, I believe.)

  14. ... says

    Probably should mention this:

    To my mind, being a geek is a lot like being gay or being atheist.

    Oh, please. The struggle for gay rights has been brutal and it’s not over by a long shot. Gay bars were being nail-bombed not that long ago, and I have horrid feeling that things are going . When it comes to atheism… maybe. In the sense of the modern, first world stuff, sure. Not elsewhere, and not in the historic sense, not even slightly; the great movement of the Enlightenment demanded everything from its members and was the most important revolution in history.

    Talk about from undershoot to overshoot.

  15. DJMankiwictz says

    Oh, I wanted to make another point. I really don’t buy that the popular kids in school had it “just as hard” as the unpopular kids. I’m not saying they didn’t have problem, but I am saying it wasn’t nearly to the same magnitude as those who may have been driven to contemplate suicide a few times during school.

  16. says

    I went through the first two years of high school with a persecution complex. I had my share of bad experiences in Middle-school for being harassed and picked on for reading during lunch or for simply being new and different (I was a military brat).

    This plus some early bad experiences with some of the popular seniors at my first high school combined with vague impression of the hollywood trope of handsome jocks and pretty girls as oppressors of the unpopular.

    About halfway through my sophomore year we moved overseas for my dad’s penultimate billet, which meant a DoDDS (Department of Defense Dependents Schools) school. I joined the JROTC unit there.

    As I worked my way up through the ranks of the cadet program, I started to get responsibilities in the unit. This, of course, necessitated working with the kind of people that I, up to now, had been treating with a kind of silent surliness because I just assumed that they were, at some point, going to bully me. But working with them, I realised that for the most part, they weren’t really different from me. They had their goals they wanted to reach. Scholarships to earn, football games to lose play their best at, people to date, etc.

    I started to realise that by taking a de facto stance that they were going to be assholes to me and preemptively being an asshole about the whole deal became a self-fulfilling kind of thing. I realised that despite the differences in opinions and hobbies we had, most of them were quite happy to teach me as a human if I just did the same for them.

    This is not to say that I was never bullied. One boy tried going after me pretty early on. Later I realised he was pretty much disliked by everyone and I found out I could shut him down pretty quickly with snark. Another was one of the jocks. He was not well liked, but he was strong enough that he basically had free reign, and he tormented me well through my junior year before getting arrested for stealing money from a JROTC fundraiser and shipped back stateside. Some of his behavior was, as I realise now, pretty blatant sexual harassment.

    Most of the people who didn’t care for me in high school did so basically because they felt I took the JROTC program far to seriously (which I did). Or they thought I was an arrogant twit (which I really was). And that’s not bullying. Or persecution.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, like the person quoted, I too “paid my dues”. I was not happy for most of my highschool years. But I also think I made things harder for myself than they needed to be. My senior year I actually had friends among the jocks and pretty girls, and I found that for the first time, when other people started to try to really bully me, I had support.

    I also started to notice that for every pretty girl who looked at me like I was a worm, there was another pretty girl who was perfectly happy to be friendly and polite to someone she really had no interest in, and another pretty girl that I had legitimately annoyed with my arrogance.

    I think that the person that Ashley quoted is getting defensive because he hasn’t gotten over his automatic defenses. He doesn’t want to realise that the “popular” type of people can be perfectly nice and can enjoy some of the stuff that he enjoys. He’s losing his special club status. He built walls that were bigger than he needed and now they’re coming down.

    I want “geekdom” to become more mainstream. I want my daughter or son to grow up and be able to deal with bullies, but also to understand that just because a bully looks a certain way doesn’t mean that everyone who looks that way is a bully.

  17. Rory says

    Whether or not geekdom has been clannish for the reasons you propose (and to some extent I think you’re right), I would nonetheless suggest that being a jerk to someone simply because you don’t feel they’ve paid their dues is pretty uncool. Especially since, unless the person you’re accusing is someone who personally stuck your head in a toilet in high school, you really have no idea where they’ve come from, and therefore really no basis for stating that your geekiness is legit but theirs is a put-on.

  18. says

    I worked for a while in a blue collar job (installing modular furniture) in the Baltimore area. Most of my coworkers were self-described “concrete rednecks”.

    I was open (but not noisy) about my atheism. I had no problem using a knapsack with an anime logo. I brought my books to work to read during breaks, including my manga, my fantasy, and my philosophy books. I was open about my bisexuality.

    But I was never anti-social. And I worked hard. So when someone or other took it in their head to come down on me, I had friends. And I learned how to scrap for myself a bit.

  19. ... says

    Whether or not geekdom has been clannish for the reasons you propose (and to some extent I think you’re right), I would nonetheless suggest that being a jerk to someone

    If “being a jerk” is reminding someone – and this is the full extent of my dreadful heresy – that there is a reason why certain traits have developed, and it would be nice to acknowledge those, and the person in question is one who responds with empty vituperation and nasty innuendo, well then I suppose that I must plead guilty to being a jerk. Sorry about that.

  20. Arkady says

    I had the ‘luck’ to never be bullied for my interest in sci-fi. No, I got bullied for scoring high on tests, spending a lot of time in the library (reading SF) and being a ‘fat ugly bitch no-one wants to fuck’. Left a few emotional scars, but I managed to pick up social skills at university, particularly learning about normal behavioural standards, e.g. when you turn up somewhere ‘friends’ said they wanted to meet up, it is not normal for them to have left without you.

    @ DJMankiwictz
    Agreed, the only ‘good’ to come of my years of personal hell is the strong sense of empathy for those who still get put through that shit. I remember an arsehole commenter turning up on Pharyngula on a thread about teen suicides in Minnesota, saying that we only cared about those kids as a ’cause’… having been bullied to the point of wanting to end it all, that made me kinda angry… (Weirdly I never got called ‘dyke’ or anything, girls didn’t seem to get the anti-gay stuff at my school. Guys did tho)

    I go to my uni’s science fiction society meets (mostly just the film/tv night, it’s a mainly gaming-focused society and I’ve never really gotten into that), and only ever had positive experiences. Membership is skewed male but there’s a reasonable number of women. A lot of people have experienced bullying in the past but that’s hardly a criterion for membership, a shared love of Who/Firefly/any-trashy-sf-you-care-to-name is what binds us together. (heh, kinda religious too, gathering once a week to watch SF in a darkened room, uttering mantras like ‘Damn you Joss Whedon!’)

  21. says

    You can’t help but cringe at the pettiness when someone starts checking up on other people’s dues. Some folks don’t seem capable of respecting themselves until they’ve disrespected others, and been flattered for doing so.

    I suspect that the notion of being picked on is pretty central to some folks ideas about geekdom. Meaning abhors a vacuum, and anyone who suffers is going to try and attach meaning to that. whether it be a matter of life-or-death, or simply teenage insecurities, people who have taken it on the chin are going to try and attach meaning to it. I suspect for many a geek (nerd, or spaz), the term is part of their response to that history. There sense of being put upon in those early years may be indispensable to their sense of what being a geek really is. Simply put, I think for a lot of people being bullied is too much a part of the meaning to simply set aside.

    But no that does NOT mean one ought to engage in boundary protection. The trick is learning how to be yourself (and perhaps embrace the pains that have gone into being oneself) without generating a list of prerequisites that other people must satisfy to get your respect.

  22. hieropants says

    self-pitying

    Look, you can be as self-pitying as you feel is appropriate, but you shouldn’t lash out at people you don’t think have suffered as much as you. Geekdom isn’t a hazing ritual, you don’t have to abuse newcomers because you were abused by other people when you started.

    I simply pointed out that there is a good reason why geekdom has traditionally been clannish and insular, and it would be nice if that was taken on board and remembered.

    Sexism and resentment aren’t good reasons to be clannish and insular.

    Just out of courtesy’s sake.

    Why should we be courteous to someone who’s being rude to us?

  23. Sethra says

    Bollux.

    I was and am a geek. I tried to talk to the geek boys at my school and they harassed me just as much as the ‘popular’ kids at my school. I tried gaming with a few of the nicer ones, but they kept trying to keep me from coming to game nights and then just kept killing off all my characters until I quit.

    I got punched in the face for being skipped ahead and nothing happened to the boy who hit me. Other students ripped my books apart on the bus, and nothing happened to them. I was insulted for being stupid even though I had the highest test scores in the class, and even though I was the only person in school who was capable of playing Scrabble in French against our foreign language teacher. I was laughed at because I loved Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (the original). I read Tolkein in class, but aced all my tests – my teachers thought I cheated. I won’t get into the physical abuse tossed my way because this post would go on for pages. Other students stole stuff from me, kicked open bathroom stalls on me, threw things at me…all because I had the appalling bad taste to be a smart girl who liked ‘weird’ stuff.

    But yeah, because I’m a girl, I can’t possibly be a geek and I have no idea what it’s truly like to suffer for being a geek.

    My daughter is called the Queen of Nerds because she has the best algebra grades in her class. She loves Star Wars, Batman, and Looking for Group. She gets bullied and harassed for being smart and being different, but she’s not a true geek because she’s a girl? She kicks my butt at Star Wars trivia, and I’m not going to be jealous and vindictive over that – I’m PROUD!!!

    Thanks to …says, though – I’ll stick with calling myself what I am, and I will wear that tag with pride.

  24. ... says

    Look, you can be as self-pitying as you feel is appropriate, but you shouldn’t lash out at people you don’t think have suffered as much as you

    Well, if you bother to look at the actual discussion I had, rather than the very selectively edited version that our esteemed blog-hostess put up here, you can see that all I did was point this basic fact out. The fact that she feels a need to plunge into self-righteousness and self-pity and start flinging buckets of slime around is not my fault.

    Case in point: this stupid accusation of sexism. There’s nothing sexist in my post, there is simply a statement of why geekdom is traditionally male dominated, and one the dynamics of ostracism that operated. You will also find that I was in fact agreeing with my original interlocutor, who was being far more sober, serious and witty that certain people I could name, that there was a very strong element of sexism and dysfunction in, shall we say, first generation geekdom.

    But I guess the idea is anything will do, as long as it works.

  25. ... says

    But yeah, because I’m a girl, I can’t possibly be a geek and I have no idea what it’s truly like to suffer for being a geek.

    but she’s not a true geek because she’s a girl?

    And when someone makes that argument, I shall join with you in condemning it. Please do let me know when someone says that,

  26. Sethra says

    … said:

    Some of us paid our dues is what I’m saying. “sexism in geekdom”? When I was growing up, all – and I mean all – girls at my school would have rather been sent to Saudi Arabia than be called geeks.

    And that, in a nutshell, is why geek culture is male dominated.

    But sure, you didn’t claim girls refused to be associated with geeks, or try to blame anything on women. Nope.

  27. ... says

    But sure, you didn’t claim girls refused to be associated with geeks, or try to blame anything on women. Nope.

    What is it with this tendency to think that outrage is an equivalent to logic or sound reasoning? I said that girls did shun geekdom; that’s plain, inescapable fact. That’s why the stereotype of the geek as a male, asocial loser exists. I said that that was the reason why geekdom is male dominated traditionally. Nowhere did I say that girls couldn’t be geeks, or shouldn’t be geeks, I simply pointed out that they, traditionally, neither wanted to nor were.

    So I find myself at a loss when it comes to the phrase “blaming women” if it means “blaming women exclusively”. I merely pointed out what the social dynamics were, and that is hard to argue with. Of course, I am blaming you for my feeling of extreme boredom at having to point this out again, but that’s not a generalized indictment of your entire sex.

  28. 'Tis Himself says

    I was laughed at because I loved…Battlestar Galactica (the original).

    I can certainly understand people laughing at you for that. :-þ

    Seriously, you were bullied for the same reasons I was bullied. I was reading a fiction book in a history class. The teacher asked me if I knew what was being discussed. I then recited the last three questions he had asked students, the answers they gave, and the commentary on the answers the teacher gave. After class I got harassed for being too smart.

  29. hieropants says

    I did read that discussion. You said the abuse directed at geeks was a good reason for the dysfunctional behavior in geek circles. You said that geeks resented women because women didn’t identify as geeks to the same extent as men, even though you also admitted the sexism in geek circles toward women who did was deplorable. Your entire first post was about your irritation that people are addressing sexism in geek circles today.

    I’m not even sure what your point is when you say you want the reasons for that sexism to be “reflected” for “accuracy and politeness sakes”, but it reads to me like you’re angry that nobody stood up for you when you were young the way people are standing up for geek women today. I’m sorry you went through that, I sympathize with your pain and frustration, but no, it is not a good reason to ostracize women today. Sexism is a problem worth fixing, and we shouldn’t excuse it because it’s perpetrated by people who were hurt in the past.

  30. ... says

    I’m not even sure what your point is when you say you want the reasons for that sexism to be “reflected” for “accuracy and politeness sakes”,

    Actually, what I said – and this is boring me to tears to have to repeat it again and again – is that there is a reason for the insularity of traditional geek culture, and good reason for people to be irritated when those who used “geek” as an epithet suddenly identify as one. I thought then and I think now that this deserves more than an “Oh BLOW me”.

    (incidentally, is it just me or is there a certain weary irony in someone whose argument consists of “Oh BLOW me” complaining about rudeness and vulgarity?)

    it reads to me like you’re angry that nobody stood up for you when you were young the way people are standing up for geek women today.

    And it reads to me that I seem to be dealing with two or three people who don’t want to argue logically, or maybe simply can’t, and who compensate for this failing by slinging buckets of slime, assuming that the worst motive they can attribute to their opponent is axiomatically the correct one, and willfully ignoring the plain meaning of words.

    I’m going to restate my point for the umpteenth time. Traditional geek interests are becoming more accepted and mainstream. Fantastic. Please remember that it wasn’t always so, that there are some of us who remember what it was like on the sharp end, and at least make a nod to that when you decide to tap out a grand instructions how you want geekdom to change.

    Now is that clear? Got that? Do I need to repeat it again? Yes, I’m getting irritated now, but when I get bored, I get irritated.

  31. hieropants says

    I’m going to restate my point for the umpteenth time. Traditional geek interests are becoming more accepted and mainstream. Fantastic. Please remember that it wasn’t always so, that there are some of us who remember what it was like on the sharp end, and at least make a nod to that when you decide to tap out a grand instructions how you want geekdom to change.

    So what exactly should Ashley Miller and John Scalzi be saying differently in their pieces? They are looking at the sexism prevalent in geek culture and saying that should change. You want them to have what – an addendum? post-script? footnote? – in every post they write that touches on geekiness? A line that says “We realize many geeks were ostracized when they were young and we are super bummed-out about that” when they have criticisms of the behavior of said geeks? What would make you happy in this situation?

  32. says

    They absolutely should be acknowledged. Because without acknowledging them we can’t do anything to fix them.

    But respect them? No. That clannish, insulating nature is now self-destructive. And it needs to be fixed.

  33. ... says

    Certainly; I just fail to see how it will be solved by a loud cry of “OH BLOW ME”

  34. says

    How do you know any of these “hipster geeks” used “geek” as an epithet at any point?

    You’re assuming that these are the same kind of people that tormented you back in the day, and you’re assuming a hostile posture before even interacting with you.

    I know there were times when it felt felt like everyone who was normal hated me. It’s a self-centered view. I was wrong, and I learned I was wrong, and I was happier for it. Most people are just concerned with getting on with their own lives.

  35. ... says

    I’ve repeated myself at least ten times; I am fed up with it. If you really can’t be bothered to understand, let me leave it with that I would be happy to see something more than a loud “OH BLOW ME”.

    Okay?

  36. Ashley F. Miller says

    What I said was that geeks should embrace the fact that more people are becoming geeks, and that geeks who didn’t accept new members because they wanted to claim they were cooler for having been there first could blow me.

    If that bothers you, can’t say I’m sorry.

  37. says

    You came into a discussion about sexism in geek culture to state that there is a reason for the hostile clannishness in geek culture. In fact, multiple times you say there’s a “Good reason” for said behavior. And that it should be respected.

    First, you’re stating the blindingly obvious. Many of us grew up tormented and bullied. I’d say every one responding did, and everyone responding to the original post. So from that angle, you’re not adding anything to the discussion. So your post basically sums up as “Girls were mean to me, there’s a reason for the clannish behavior. Done now.”

    So either you simply wanted to state the blindingly obvious, at which point your whole post was a waste of time. Or you were trying to defend the antisocial behavior.

    Because, lets be honest. Those reasons are not “good” reasons. They’re sad, pitiable reasons that do need to be acknowledged and addressed and fixed. Which is what this whole conversation is supposed to be about. So if you really think that the problem needs to be fixed, I suggest that instead of sitting with your thumb up your ass making blindingly obvious observations to other people who have paid their dues just as much as you, and start helping push. If you can’t help push, help pull. If you can’t do either, then get the hell out of the way.

  38. hieropants says

    You’ve said that you want your experiences to be validated several times, yes. I find the idea that any kind of criticism of a subculture should include a pat on the head for the difficulties faced by the people in that subculture kind of weird, to be honest. I don’t find it all that relevant, and your insistence on turning the focus of the discussion from the people who are currently being targeted to your own experiences of abuse by people who have nothing to do with this discussion is coming across as self-centered derailing.

  39. says

    I got a similar chunk of bullying. I was a maths/physics student, high academic achiever, lover of Dr Who and Star Trek and SF, and generally a huge science nerd as a child & teen in the 60s and 70s.

    I call a loud BULLSHIT on the dues-paying aspect.

    There was certainly no geek solidarity extended to me as a consequence of my suffering and dues-paying. I was just as likely to be harassed and belittled by geeks. More, in fact, since they were more dominant in my social circles. It seems to me that the geek girl was basically invisible as such to the geek boys, being relegated to that interchangeable identical category of “girl”.

  40. Rabidtreeweasel says

    So there was this girl in highschool, andshe was SO cool. She had purple hair and ran marathons. She was uber Christian, so was I, and she was a missionary. She was like Teen Jesus from Glee but a girl. But because I was busy hiding my sexuality and keeping my geekiness on the QT to avoid further teasing we completely missed eachother.

    10 years later we joined the same gaming group. A Dresden campaign modified to Gurps because Fudge sucks eggs. The first session we both wore Dr Who shirts. We discovered we both loved Star Trek, B5, and Red Dwarf. We discussed the pros and cons of the rule changes for the new edition of Descent. We found out we love the same foods and started exchanging recipes.

    We geek out together all the time, so much so our GM has to ask us to please stfu. We didn’t dare geek out like that in highschool, so we didn’t know. We missed out on years of friendship. We ostracized ourselves because Nice Girls don’t watch Terminator, but we couldn’t be Nice Girls so we just quietly excused ourselves from life.

    I know other girls who were cruel to me. Maybe they were closet geeks too and handled their fear of being outcasts by wailing on others. I don’t know. I can’t really venture a guess because the fact is they lack they’re brains were still developing. They were mean, but good FSM I was a weird kid. And no matter how I was treated I have no reason to assume that a pretty girl who rocks at FPS was ever anything but nice until I she does something to prove otherwise.

    Assuming anything else would make me pretty shallow, rather like those mean preps in highschool. In fact bushings girl’s abilities and interests based solely on the fact that she dare be simultaneously pretty AND a girl would be pretty flipping sexist.

  41. says

    What is that I don’t even.

    I said that girls did shun geekdom; that’s plain, inescapable fact. That’s why the stereotype of the geek as a male, asocial loser exists. I said that that was the reason why geekdom is male dominated traditionally. Nowhere did I say that girls couldn’t be geeks, or shouldn’t be geeks, I simply pointed out that they, traditionally, neither wanted to nor were.

    You make this assessment that “girls” shunned geekdom based on the girls that you remember from high school. Now Sethra comes in and gives us examples of how she was a geek and was bullied for it, AND how she was harassed and shunned by the geek boys, and STILL, you refuse to back off your generalization of “girls” having historically shunned geekhood. This is not an issue of “could” or “should,” she is telling us about was and did, in her personal experience. She is not a concept. She is not a theory. She is an actual human being who took bullying from both sides because she was a geek AND a girl.

    Is it possible that you don’t remember any girls from your high school having embraced Geek culture because you just didn’t notice the girls like Sethra?

    And if there really were no girls at your school who were into geek culture, is it possible that they shunned geekdom because they knew they wouldn’t be welcome?

    And is it possible that what happened in your personal experience is not universal to all geeks everywhere?

  42. says

    I just fundamentally do not understand this mindset. At all. I’m reading all of …’s posts, and I understand the words but I cannot comprehend his point.

    Yeah, I was bullied in High School, hardcore. Hell, I was bullied every time I attempted school. In elementary school, it got so bad that my mom pulled me out and homeschooled me. In High School, after my friends graduated when I was a sophmore, I said “Fuck this,” and transfered to Independent Study, and picked up the rest of my credits at the local community college. A lot of the bullying came because I was fat, a lot because I was geeky and intellectual, because I was obsessed with Star Trek, X-files, Buffy, Harry Potter, various anime, and spent most of my free time writing fan-fiction or old 3rd or 4th generation fansubbed yaoi. Probably some of the bullying came because, as a homeschooled kid, I had no idea how to interact with kids my own age and I was culturally isolated because my folks didn’t let me listen to much music or watch movies (I hid my Buffy and anime like some kids hide their porn). School sucked, it really really sucked, and the best decision I ever made was to leave and never look back.

    But you know what? I am thrilled beyond words that my brother has never been bullied. Oh, by all standards he should be: learning disabled, somewhere on the autism spectrum (very high functioning and my parents refused to give him medication or label him, but his IEP worker has suggested it several times), spends a lot of his school day in Special Ed classes, absolutely obsessed with various geeky things (his obsessions change every few months, but we’ve gone through a warewolf phase, a Death Note phase (and other anime), and now he games nonstop. But his schools have had a zero-tolerance policy. The teachers and administration work hard to have the students work together, not tear each other apart. The kids look out for each other.

    (All my brothers were football players, but one brother was an especially good, especially big linebacker. One day he saw one of the kids in his boy scout troop–the boy was autistic, and somewhat effeminate–getting bullied by another jock. My brother shoved that guy against the wall and got in his face, then made it very clear that if he ever messed with the kid again, he would be dealing with my brother–and my brother was not afraid of getting suspended. He welcomed it. Football season was over and he didn’t need to stay eligible. And it’s not like my brother and the smaller kid were friends. My brother just couldn’t stand by and watch something like that happen.)

    Am I going to say my brother isn’t really a geek because he never got bullied? Are you kidding? I am so, so happy that he won’t carry the same scars I have. And it’s wonderful that so many schools have procedures to deal with bullying (even internet bullying), teach the kids from a young age the importance of not bullying, have a system in place for kids to report, etc. I’m glad that geek culture is mainstreaming, that it isn’t istant ostracization if a kid likes video games or cult movies or something. Intelligence, doing good at science, those are starting to mainstream as well, with a lot of TV that where the heroes are just really smart people who are good at science. And it’s great that kids have more freedom to do what makes them happy without horrible social consequences. It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, and there’s a lot left for us to work on. But I believe that it should be the goal of every human being to make the world better. We have one life, and there’s no one up there to magically fix everything. It’s up to us to make a difference. And I celebrate when I see progress, when I see that my kids and grandkids might not have to suffer like I did, that bullying is not inevitable, and that those of us who stood up and said, “This has to stop,” are making at least a little positive change.

    So that’s why I’m confused, I guess. I just don’t understand why this isn’t seen as an entirely awesome thing. It’s a victory, not something to complain about.

  43. says

    While some of it is indeed just an “us vs them” mentality, it’s more complicated than that. Why do they say things like “It’s ruining gaming”? Because the influx of casual gamers and consoles changes gameplay, and thus changes the games they want to play. One of the issues for consoles, for example, as always been how you change the interface so that a controller can handle it, which impacts PC games as well. For hardcore vs casual, it often means what’s called “dumbing down” games, making them easier and removing challenges so that more casual players can also enjoy them. There’s a difference in what casual gamers and hardcore gamers want out of a game, but if games start to appeal to that mainstream then it will become difficult to find games that appeal to the hardcore gaming mentality.

    As I say on my blog, I’m pretty much literally a not-so-casual gamer. I share a lot of the mindset — limited time to play, doesn’t enjoy frustration and retrying and retrying to puzzle out a solution — but know a bit more than most casual gamers do. But I can personally see this sort of issue, with, for example, the popularity of FPSes meaning that a lot of companies focus on making them and not really good RPGs. And there are a number of other issues that are being driven by the whims of the mainstream, since that’s where all the money is. Leaving the risk that these geeks will end up pushed out of their own medium that supposedly these people are trying to join as it changes to reflect the attitude of the new people who, really, don’t want what gaming is supposed to provide.

    Of course, this is also massively debatable …

  44. says

    If everyone, including Joe Peacock’s “6 of 9s”, wants to embrace their inner weirdness and smartness and they can do that without it being embarrassing, fuck yeah!

    Right here is where, it seems to me, the big disconnect is. As I interpret them, NEITHER Joe Peacock NOR … have any problem with people who have geeky interests now being able to express them without going through the bullying that they went through. Their complaint, it seems to me, is all about the people who actually don’t HAVE that inner weirdness and smartness and have no interest in having it. They’re interested in geek culture not because they’re interested in geek culture, but because looking like they’re interested in geek culture can get them something.

    This sort of poseur-type of interaction can be annoying, of course, and I think that at least most of …’s focus on the bullying and buying their way in is a reflection of this, the idea that most geeks are clearly genuine in their interests because, hey, look at all the crap they put up with to do it. If they weren’t really interested in it, they surely wouldn’t have gone through all of that, right? So they’ve proven that they are genuinely interested in this stuff. And sure, some of the newcomers — male or female — are people who wanted to be involved but had too many social issues to do it. Which can lead to a sense of superiority in that those who did it anyway can be seen as being more “dedicated” than those who didn’t. However, personal experience leads me to posit that at least some who did geeky things anyway just didn’t care about what people thought enough to let it stop them, through no actual effort of their own [grin].

    Anyway, I think a lot of the reaction is indeed to this distinction between people who really are geeks and are interested in this stuff and the people who are pictures that they’re holding of geeks because it’s now trendy to be a geek, and hip to be square. I think no one has a problem with geeky people who can now reveal themselves and their geeky interests because the social conditions are better, but have problems with people who are basically trying to exploit being a geek when they, in fact, actually aren’t.

  45. says

    My issue with this is how do you really tell who’s just there to enjoy the culture and who is there to pander and profit?

    I think the problem is the assumption that “you’re pretty, therefore we assume you’re here to profit off of us.” To me this is just an extension of the attitude that “I was bullied by people that look like you, so I assume that you will be a bully too” attitude that leads to treating people with hostility that would otherwise have been perfectly friendly.

    These are the attitudes that lead to the “clannish, insular nature” that “…” talked about, and I think that dealing with these attitudes is what we need to do to stop this misogynistic, abusive nonsense that’s going on inside the movement.

    We have to stop assuming the worst of people just because they don’t seem to have been given the short end of the social stick growing up. We have to stop assuming that just because this woman is pretty, she’s just here to make money off of desperate undersexed men. We have to stop assuming that just because this man looks like an athlete he’s just a johnny-come-lately trying on the new cool.

    When the people who really are just fronting screw up, we can reveal them as fakes. We can use their actions against them. But what we need to stop doing is attacking people that don’t match our definition of the true geek just because we don’t think they fit in. That’s exactly the same kind of nastiness we grew up suffering and it’s a mess we need to clean up in our own home.

  46. Rory says

    Pardon me–I didn’t mean to say that you were being a jerk by making your point. I’m referring rather to people who think they have the right to look down on others for not having their degree of geek cred. I don’t know if you do that or not, but if you do, then yes, I’d say that’s kind of jerky.

  47. punchdrunk says

    My kids are in Science Academy and the Gaming Club (board, video, card, and tabletop), and my daughter founded the Anime Club at her HS, it has about 50 kids enrolled in its’ first year. (watching ‘cartoons’ and eating snacks – very popular)

  48. says

    I agree that it’s hard to tell who are the fakers and who aren’t. I recall reading in one of the posts on this that someone called out Felicia Day on this, who has been around the scene long enough to be there when it wasn’t cool and so should at least get the benefit of the doubt, if not be considered to be a “real” geek. That being said, in Peacock’s article he actually gave an actual example of someone who clearly is a faker, and so we shouldn’t simply chalk it all up to sour grapes.

    When anything gets trendy, you get fakers for various reasons. Fakers are annoying, and trying to defend that sort of behaviour as being perfectly all right is not likely to go over well. That’s why I pointed out the disconnect, as some people seem to think that it’s all about pretty people who can now express their inner geek while the other side is upset about those calling themselves geeks who not only aren’t but, in fact, don’t actually want to be.

  49. Nathaniel Frein says

    I agree, we shouldn’t chock everything up to sour grapes. And Peacock’s example is an actual, known faker who deserves to be disparaged as a faker.

    But I also don’t like the angry “guilty until proven innocent” attitude that I see a lot coming from people like “…”

  50. Ron Strong says

    I went to High School in the mid-80s and I was a D&D playing comic book collecting sci-fi fan (and am still all of those things at age 44, except the comic book collecting). So I think my ‘old school’ geek credentials are pretty solid. And the weird thing is…I never felt bullied. People thought of me as odd, and I was odd, but no one really picked on me. Even the whole Jock/Nerd dichotomy didn’t apply to me as many of my friends were “jocks”.

    Now granted, my case may be unusual and probably is. And the fact that I went to a very small high school may have been part off it too. But it does show that being bullied was not a universal part of being a geek, even back in the old days.

  51. No Light says

    Oh please. This comment is completely undermined by your request for acknowledgement upthread, due to the fact that:

    there are some of us who remember what it was like on the sharp end

    You’re not Rosa Parks, or one of the Little Rock Nine. You weren’t at the Stonewall Riots, or treated like a leper in 80s San Francisco because you were dying of AIDS. You were picked on for being a geek. That does not warrant acknowledgement, arse-pats, or the addition of a statement to every post about geekery.

    Always remember that we owe our Doctor Who t-shirts and BSG boxsets to those who went before us.

    We owe a substantial debt to those who fought and died on the bloody fields of Krynn, that we might live and prosper in Azeroth.

    Teach the children and teach them well, that they owe their freedom to watch DBZ or play Angry Birds, to the brave and noble geeks of old. They who suffered wedgies, and swirlies so that others might not.

    Never has so much been given to future generations, so many sacrifices made, by so few. Someday they will all be wearing celestial pocket-protectors after they descend to that great eternal MUD, where Clearasil is redundant, and all of the chess sets are 3D Star Trek ones. It is the Paradise they deserve.

    So until that day, when all those brave pioneers reach that final resting place, let us treasure and respect them, and revel in the shining world they have created for us.

    The ten-minute silence and tearing of clothing are optional. Especially if you’re wearing something you wore before it became cool.

  52. Sethra says

    I can certainly understand people laughing at you for that. :-þ

    *cough* I’m sure it didn’t help that I could recite a large number of Dr. Seuss books from memory – and still can – or that I watched every episode of the original Star Trek series.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Viper kit to finish. :D

  53. johnlanders says

    The ‘paid our dues’ concept is a complete load. This person is bitter about a lot in life, apparently, and I just can’t believe that any geek would feel that way.

    Being a geek is about being in love with something; those traditional things we used to associate with geekery aren’t the only things that make someone a geek. You can be a football geek as much as you can be a photography geek. You can be a table top RPG geek; you can be a Magic: The Gathering geek. You can read epic fantasies, science fiction, debate Star Wars, stand in-line for comic books, and dress up as your favorite character for a little cosplay. All of these things can be geeky and it’s our endless pursuit of those things, being the best at those things, are finding the most enjoyment in those things that we love.

    I for one applaud this new world; the world of Harry Potter whereby there’s nothing socially wrong with enjoying fantasy stories – this world of technology, where everyone is geekier just because of the gadgets we get to play. A world where everyone gets to enjoy the passions that I have – a world where I can be proud of my geekiness and be accepted for that geekiness.

    And most importantly, I applaud a world in which I can raise my child on Doctor Who, fantasy stories, games, Legos, and anything else I want – and I’ll never have to worry about whether or not those things will be the things that keep him from finding friends when he goes to school.

    So to that bitter, bitter man I can only say: “You, sir, are completely wrong and a disgrace to what it means to be a geek.”

  54. says

    I’ll go ahead and give my hand a raise for being bullied in school, in addition to being bullied by family members and by administration.

    But I’ve also been extensively bullied by male geeks who liked their he-man woman hating gaming clubs, or computer clubs. As someone mentioned upthread, I’ve been the only girl or woman at a table and been sexually harassed, been dog-piled to kill me off in a game, been lied to about when and where people would be meeting, been explicitly told that because I am female, I cannot be any good at anything, and been booed by nearly an entire school for accepting an award for highest standardized test scores in the entirety of the school, including male geeks who thought I must have cheated. I’ve lost count of how many times male geeks have called me a whore or bitch.

    If some of us older geeks, like … here, are going to flat out deny that there were female geeks and that they were also bullied, and that there were femme geeks who were equally geeky and male geeks alienated them because they wanted to feel better about being rejected by the girls they wanted, in addition to being all pissed off that people want to talk about the RAMPANT sexism in geek culture, frankly, they can go live in their little clubhouses.

    They just need to stop being surprised when people don’t want to hang out with them.

  55. Ysanne says

    I said that girls did shun geekdom; that’s plain, inescapable fact. That’s why the stereotype of the geek as a male, asocial loser exists. I said that that was the reason why geekdom is male dominated traditionally. Nowhere did I say that girls couldn’t be geeks, or shouldn’t be geeks, I simply pointed out that they, traditionally, neither wanted to nor were.

    Or maybe, your male group of geeks was too busy getting rejected and ridiculed by the “pretty” girls to notice that there are girl geeks and they form groups, too.
    I know because I was a girl geek forever, all my friends until age 17 were geek girls, and we never got noticed by even the geek guys. When I accidentally became friends with my year’s male geeks, I found out that the geeky-looking girls were seen as weird looking and too geeky, and the pretty ones were too scary.

    Your kind of attitude has only little to do with actual geekiness and much more with self-confidence issues.

  56. leizle says

    I agree with just about everything in this article. The main points are correct and I’ve thought many of these thoughts to. The Geek test has to go. Geek is not something to be earned. I was just musing the other day how I spent my formative years being called a geek by insult. And now, I’m being called “not a geek” by insult simply because I don’t nerd out to extremes anymore. Our world is ever changing and we geeks need to change with it.

    Being bullied never gives one the right to bully. Being excluded never gives anyone the right to exclude someone else. You can’t scream about your pain while inflict pain on someone else and expect to be taken seriously.

    One thing I want to say though, is that while I am a girl geek, I am also gay and those two things, seemingly comparable surface wise, really aren’t. One can result in bullying and alienation. Never good things, no. The other can result in being disowned by loved ones, being legally prevented from pursuing happiness, and hate crimes involving torture and death. So, yes. Both are about being who you are and not being ashamed about it. But no, in the grand scheme of things, they are not comparable. Not yet, anyway. Here’s hoping with just a little more time, they will be though.

  57. says

    From a personal stand point, I would never use terms such as “paying your dues,” or that you have to have been bullied, you have to be a guy.

    Undoubtedly most geeks are guys, stat-wise that is fact and can’t be argued. Doesn’t mean there aren’t girls, I’ve known them, they are definitely out there.

    I don’t think you have to be bullied, I wasn’t particularly I don’t think. I mean I had moments, but I don’t think more so than others and honestly once I pulled a knife out on my bully in Junior High it stopped and never started again through the rest of school.

    I don’t like the “pay your dues” argument, I get what people mean by it because there is something underneath it but it isn’t the entire reason behind what is going on here.

    I also for the record will say glasses certainly have nothing to do with geekery largely because the majority of people these days need glasses (not me though).

    You also can’t tell me that just because you wrote about Hercules in your past time and no one knew about it, that you were a geek. That’s not how it works and I think that’s where the “pay your dues” attitude comes in.

    A really big part of being a geek was about being outside the social norm. And I realize your point here was that everyone in high school feels like an outsider, which is sort of true (not really though, we were all discovering where we were and didn’t feel like we belonged, that is not by definition an outsider). You see when I say I was outside the social norm, I didn’t mean I felt like I was, I mean I was. It isn’t even that I was introverted and didn’t really talk to anyone (I was). I know geeks who are social butterflies. It isn’t about liking certain subjects or being good with computers, I have a friend who is a geek but likes cars, hates sports, likes Will Farrell and while he has a respect for Star Wars, doesn’t really get into the traditional geek movie fair.

    From a personal stand point I think almost overwhelmingly majority of geeks do have intelligence and that is about the only thing you can tie in with each other. I know someone who tries really hard to be a geek but generally no geek likes him because he just isn’t like them no matter how he tries (they don’t put it in these terms, there are reasons why he is not liked and they don’t relate it to being geeky, but when you think about it it kind of is).

    I’d like to say that another aspect of it is that is a general feeling of the system failing you largely because of said intelligence. There were so many geeks that were just too freaking smart for school it can’t be just coincidence… One of two things happens with these guys… one you lose interest in school and start doing badly… or two… you just push through it anyway and end up getting a doctorate… Bill Gates is a geek through and through, also a college drop out largely because the system failed him.

    There are a lot of types of geeks… so many so that people tend to lump geekery into being interested in certain types of things. I like a discussion me and some friends had about The Nerdist podcast and the general feeling that this guy is not really a nerd. I hate to borrow something from the gay community but I do feel sometimes that there is a geekdar type feeling.

    personally, I wonder these days whether I was a geek and I wonder if other geeks have this same uncertainty. There is such an acceptance of geeks all of a sudden and many geeks have turned it into such a strength that I wonder if I even belong… but then again, maybe that is just a sign of my geekdom yet again popping out… that I can’t even belong even when I am accpeted.

  58. says

    Great article Ashley!

    Tomorrow at 5pm EST, HuffPost Live is actually hosting a discussion about geek culture and we’d love to have you join us as a guest via webcam. If interested, please email me at felicia.kelley@huffingtonpost.com and I’d be happy to give you further details. Thanks!

  59. says

    I’m not much of a geek and certainly not a fan of geek culture, but I like many of the same pop culture pieces that they do. Can’t people just enjoy pop culture, even obscure stuff, without it turning into a celebration of their own alienation? Early in college, I started becoming a film buff and had no one to share that interest with. I eventually got over it without throwing away an edifying hobby, but also without choosing movies over friendships. A certain amount of fitting in with the rest of the world is not a crime and you are not selling out who you are by bending a little. True self-confidence means neither blowing with the wind nor stubbornly holding onto every last behavior.

  60. Jg129 says

    I am a geek, but since I had friends that I grew up with,who were girls and boys, and now even in my old High School I never knew that there was a “bully geeks” mentality, and tbh within our little group we never knew anthill more than DBZ or Doctor Who so that was cool to us and I thought that everyone liked it and that everyone watched Star Trek and everyone loved Star Wars, until I recently moved Upstate from the city and when I noticed almost everyone hated that stuff, I was confused :/. I told my friends that over here you’re ridiculed for liking that stuff and they were blown away by that. So when I do see my friends we all feel cool and like a family. We feel safe and we love everything about it, so when I find that there’s more people who like the same stuff or something close to it, I embrace them with open arms because it’s lonely out there. I recently made friends with a girl who loves watching the original Batman show with Adam west and I love to talk to her because I feel like she’s a family member to a much greater level, the level of full appreciation for something and that we would die loving and would eventually be passed on to generation to generation.

  61. says

    I am a geek, and I didn’t know about the “bullyingGeeks” mentality because I had friend, girls and boys, who loved Doctor Who and Star Trek. They loved DBZ and talking about who shot first( which everyone knows it’s Han, but Dessi says they first made it Greedo) constantly, so I never felt alone. But when I moved upstate I left my friends and went to a new school. I found out that people here hate that stuff and ridicule you for talking about what is your favorite show on the Sci-Fi channel or your favorite Yugioh card. It surprised me because I thought that’s what everyone liked and when I told my friends they didn’t get it either. And so now I was alone for a few months though until I met someone who loved Batman the show with Adam West. And I gladly let her in my family of comic books and Sci- Fi because the feeling that someone loves what you love no matter who is the best feeling ever and that they truly embrace and care for this world known as Geekdom is the most important thing to me in the end anyways. When I now go to the city on special occasions, it’s great because it means I’m going to be with my friends who love D&D as just as me and I feel safe and free and ready to explode with so much passion for the geek culture

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