The True Geek

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Happy Geek Pride Day! At least, that’s what everyone on the internet kept saying on Saturday. The thing is I can’t help but wonder why? Why do geeks feel the need to pat themselves on the back and talk about what they’re doing on Geek Pride Day? Do we deserve a Geek Pride Day? Are we some kind of minority that needs a whole day to feel special? Or is it yet more crass commercialization of the word “geek?”

For one thing, I don’t believe we’re in the minority. When websites as varied as ABC News and the USA Today are wishing people a happy Geek Day that’s hardly a minority. And let’s not forget the tech age we’re living in. Some of the biggest companies out there are tech companies. Major fashion designers are creating Steampunk lines. The biggest box office movies of all time? Eight out of 10 of them are genre movies. So why do we still feel the need to be validated?

In this day and age, every day is Geek Pride Day. Every time I go to a convention, or hang out with my friends at the local Steampunk store to play board games, any time I throw on a Dr Who t-shirt, that’s Geek Pride Day. I don’t need a day to celebrate it, because it’s every day for me.

Geek pride day feels commercialised. Actually, not just the day, the word “geek” has been commercialised, and I’m not sure I want to label myself that anymore. It used to be that you were a geek because you saw Star Wars on cinema ten times, or because you have a passion for D&D. It was your passion that got you labelled as a geek. You could be into whatever, geocaching, stamp collecting, or Doctor Who, it didn’t matter what you were into, it was your level of passion that made you a geek. The word “geek” used to feel inclusive. As in, it didn’t exclude anybody.

Nowadays, it seems that you’re only really a geek if you like certain things. I feel like you have to check certain boxes in order to proudly wear your geek pin. Are you a true geek if you only discovered Doctor Who under RTD/Moffat’s era? Are you a true geek if, even though you grew up with D&D and know every episode of Twilight Zone, you don’t own a cell phone and kinda hate computers? There’s even a geek look that you have to fit in with, which is ridiculous. What does a geek even look like? Apparently you have to wear retro glasses. So I guess my choice to give up glasses in favour of overnight contact lenses that change the shape of my eyeball somehow makes me… less of a geek?

Hearing about Geek Pride Day honestly makes me angry. Being a geek means I march to the beat of my own drummer. Which also means I don’t need to be told what day to celebrate geekdom. And if my celebrating being a geek means hanging out at the archery range, then great. I don’t need to have watched Game of Thrones to be called a geek. That’s not what geekdom is about. Since when did we start excluding people?

Furthermore, as I mentioned, this stinks of commercialisation. Now, if you went on Saturday to ThinkGeek you could have gotten a Geek Pride Day pin. Yep. Commercialisation. But it’s not just ThinkGeek. I actually love their site. A few weeks ago I had a run in with an unsavoury editor who ran a website called Geek Magazine, in no way affiliated to the actual Geek Magazine. After a few emails back and forth I discovered this site was a content factory, paying writers a ridiculously low wage to write something appropriately geeky and cash in on the current obsession with geekdom. It’s disturbing. And the thing is, we fall for it. If it has a Firefly reference, we’re all over it. I guarantee you, if IGP had the word “geek” in it, it would get a lot more readers.

This has got to stop. You’re not less of a geek if you’ve never watched a Joss Whedon show. And just because you wear a pin with the word “geek” doesn’t make you a geek. If you want to be a geek then don’t worry about dressing like other self-confessed geeks, or talking like them. Just love what you love, and be yourself. That’s what a true geek is.