What is a geek? Someone who plays too many video games? Someone who dresses up as an anime character? Someone who writes terrible Harry Potter fan fiction?
A Guest Post by Sophie Carroll
Maybe it’s all of these things and more. Someone I once worked with said ‘everyone is a geek for something’, whether that ‘something’ is the Twilight saga or H.P Lovecraft.
The ‘origin of the geek’ is not something many people think about. In modern society, it generally refers to anyone who is an enthusiast or very intelligent. The other word they might use to refer to themselves would be ‘nerd’, someone with an obsessive interest in a particular thing. In fact, ‘geek’ has its origins in old English dialect; ‘geck’ meaning ‘freak’. The word still survives in the Dutch language today and, in eighteenth century Austria-Hungary, gecken were circus freaks. Have you ever heard someone refer to a freak in an affectionate way? Probably not.
The geeks we know and (mostly) love today range from people interested in technology and new media to mathematical geniuses who spend all their time in the library at school. Typically, they pride themselves on not being mainstream and following the crowd, so it’s not really surprising that geeks do not have many friends at school. Think back to your days in school. Did you despise the pressure that was put on you to get a fake ID, smoke or do something ‘cool’? Did you feel that those same people despised you because you weren’t joining in? Maybe you’re just incredibly anti-social but, more than likely, you were a blossoming geek.
My ‘development’ as a geek is probably one that most other ‘geeks’ are familiar with. I didn’t have that many friends at school and was much more concerned with studying and writing stories. Suddenly, at university, I discovered that there were hundreds of other people with similar interests who were tolerant of anything geeky I might throw at them. I think I fall into the group of geeks who agree that their confidence grew after leaving school, once realising that there were much more important things than being ‘too cool for school’. Today, I consider myself a geek for many things; Japan, anime, blogging, reading, writing and studying. Even as a graduate, I like to pick up a History book and read it for fun.
The best thing about being a geek with geek friends is not having to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of them. Geeks are very tolerant of each other and welcome all manners of weirdness, as long as it’s not harming or offending anybody! I have only ever gone out with fellow geeks; not because I seek them out but because I am naturally drawn to them. It’s strange how quickly you’ll warm to someone when they know what you mean when you say ‘go home and be a family man’.
Even if someone doesn’t ‘look’ like a typical geek (glasses, playing on their DS, painting figurines in Games Workshop), they will still have ‘geekish’ tendencies because they’re human and are naturally interested in things. Your mum might be a new age geek; your employer might be a numbers geek; your sister might be a fashion geek; your lecturer will more than likely be a geek for their own subject. Anyone who is particularly interested in just about anything can arguably be described as a geek because, in true geek style, they’ll want to talk about it at every possible opportunity.
However, the people you’d normally recognise as geeks will like more than one of the following; Star Trek, video games, anime, manga, board games, Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft, LARPing . . . The list goes on. These are the ‘geeks’ that are celebrated on Geek Pride Day on 25th May, an unofficial holiday that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. So, if you’re not fond of mathematics, Star Trek or the like, you probably wouldn’t be inclined to celebrate this particular day.
The purpose of this article is, of course, mostly for a bit of fun. However, I like to think that it is something that a lot of you can relate to. Whether you cosplay or speak Klingon, you’ll have felt isolated from normal society at some point in your life. Have no fear – there are millions of other people just like you around the world. Maybe you’ve already met them or are struggling to fit in with ‘normal’ people. By all means, geeks can be friends with normal people too; so don’t think you have to segregate yourself. It took me a while but I’m now more than happy to call myself a film geek, Japan geek, anime geek and more. Geeks are cool. Live long and prosper, and all that jazz.
‘Geek’ used to be an insult, especially in school, but as you grow older and understand more about yourself, the word becomes a badge of honour.
Written By Sophie Carroll, check out her amazing blog! Sophie’s Japan Blog