Features | Rise of the Geek
To label yourself as a ‘geek’ is becoming more and more acceptable, even fashionable. Natalie Irving implores us to embrace the term and its new popularity.
Are you a geek?
Don’t worry; you can take a moment to think about it. It can be a pretty polarising question, depending on your definition of the word. After all, what is a ‘geek’? At one time it was a word used to describe a marginalised group in society who’s interests didn’t match up with the mainstream: it was a vilification, a marker of being different. Are you ‘too smart’? No good at sports? Is your hobby a bit too ‘different’? Then chances are this label was thrown at you. But, as the old saying goes, that was then, and this is now: I would like to think the world has grown up a little bit.
The word geek, for me, is a badge of pride. It proves that you are invested enough in something, and knowledgeable enough about it, to stand out. A geek is a person with a passion for something interesting, if not a little different, who knows what they like and are able to commit to it. Sure, a geek’s interests might not be mainstream, or what everyone else likes, but wouldn’t the world would be pretty boring if we all liked the same things?
I am not the only one that thinks this; people all over the world are starting to agree: being a geek is okay. You don’t have to give up videogames after childhood, hide your comics and start watching football instead (though, of course you can still be a geek and like football). You can carry your interests into adulthood, or even pick them up there, and there is a whole culture of geeks to support you in doing so.
But not only is it more socially acceptable, it is also much more widely available. The internet has brought the geek cultures of multiple countries together to make a melting pot of interests and ideas. Whereas before you could only share your passions with those in your own country, maybe only within your own town, you can now talk about and participate in fandoms all across the world. With a click of a button, you can read anime from Japan, watch Spanish dramas, or listen to music from Norway.
Sometimes, those that would consider themselves geeks get angry that their culture is becoming more popular, more available to the masses: but really, I don’t see this as a bad thing. After all, it is geek culture growing and evolving that allows you to buy that Adventure Time t-shirt, watch that Avengers movie or listen to that Minecraft podcast. The more popular something is, the greater the community, and the rewards. Being a geek has never been so easy (or been so expensive, with all that loot you can buy), and it is a label more and more people are embracing.
Take the recently run ‘Geek Night’ in the Union. It brought a varied group of people together over drinks, glow sticks and videogames. It was put together by a number of societies, with interests that included anime, Harry Potter and even tea. These society’s passions were varied, but they all fell under the umbrella of ‘geek’.
Despite their differences they came together to produce an inclusive night that celebrated all their different interests, and allowed them to proudly show what makes them tick. Where else, other than in the geek community could you bring together so many people with different interests and tastes, but mutual respect?
Although geek is a pretty ‘catch-all’ term, not all geeks are the same: just because someone likes j-pop, doesn’t mean that they enjoy Pokémon; and just because someone watches Star Trek, doesn’t mean that they will enjoy Doctor Who. Yet this doesn’t stop people classed as geeks, from all walks of life, from making an inclusive community that respects everyone’s tastes.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t sometimes in-fighting between geek cultures (the ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’ fight, anyone?), but, just as mainstream culture as a whole is growing to accept geeks: geeks too are learning to accept other geeks. You can be a maths geek, a sci-fi geek, or even a tea geek. All it takes is a passion, and a yearning to find out more. If we all embraced our own passions, and each other’s, perhaps we could all learn to love our inner and outer geeks just a little bit more.