What does it mean to be a geek? In an attempt to enlighten both the geeks and non-geeks alike, I want to try to answer this question, because it seems that many people have no understanding of the unique subculture that is geekdom.

Firstly, do not confuse us with nerds or dorks. It’s analogous to confusing a football player with, say, a lawn chair.

Nerds are people who value themselves and others based on grades or other evaluations, and thus are driven by the need to succeed on some sort of arbitrary scale.

We geeks are a proud group, and there is only one thing worse to be confused with than nerds ? dorks.

Dorks are a sad, sad group of people who walk through life unaware of social norms.

Geeks, on the other hand, are a fine species. Some of us may appear to have no concept of social skills ? like myself ? but we, in fact, are fully aware that what we are doing is abnormal.

Geeks are by no means unified as to our opinions on anything, as we are a diverse group. The only thing that bands us together ? apart from our super nifty Star Trek uniforms ? is that we aren’t mainstream.

As odd as it may sound, being a geek is pretty much the mainstream of being alternative.

There are techie geeks, people who live on caffeine and sugar, and know about things like “open source,” “the difference between Java and Javascript,” and “the Internet.” This group is usually so close to the cutting edge of technology they get razor burn.

There are video gaming geeks, or, “people who can tell the difference between Quake and Unreal Tournament.” These geeks are closer to “normal” than anyone else grouped with geeks, but video gaming is gateway geekery. It is one step closer to becoming a full-fledged geek.

The most diverse group of geeks is the role-playing/fantasy gaming geeks. This ranges from people who play Dungeons & Dragons on weekends to the caped crusaders with filed teeth who are insulted at Buffy’s unrealistic portrayal of vampirism.

So we’re all different. A techie geek may laugh at gaming geeks with the rest of the masses, and role-playing geeks mock the live-action role-playing geeks, but we all need to band together from time to time.

See, geek pride is at an all time low. According to statistics I recently made up, only 20 percent of geeks at UR are proud of being geeks. See, being a geek isn’t something to be ashamed of ? unless you write fanfics ? it is something to be wear as a badge of pride.

All of our toys and interests are becoming popular. We, who were once mocked for our personal organizers, are still mocked ? by people with personal organizers. Before Harry Potter stole the sorcerer’s stone, we were taking crap for reading Robert Jordan or Piers Anthony.

Before you all watched Fellowship of the Ring, we read it. And reading is better than watching movies. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves at night to make the pain go away.

It is our job, geeks, as a group, to commiserate that, while the things we like will go into style, we never will.

Powell can be reached at lpowell@campustimes.org.



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