Con season is in full swing and the geek Mecca is just around the corner: that’s right, San Diego Comic-Con is almost here. The excitement and the buildup to the biggest event of the geek year really got me thinking…being a geek rocks.
The term “geek” doesn’t have the prettiest start in the English language. As early as 1916, the word was used to describe carnival performers (“freaks”) with outlandish acts. Theories from the Online Etymology Dictionary trace the word to geck, a “fool, dupe, [or] simpleton.” Even Dictionary.com isn’t very kind, noting the second definition as “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.” Of course, the word “assassin” stems from a fanatical Crusades-era Muslim sect who imbibed hashish. Then again, that IS cooler than circuses. Unless there’s tigers. Tigers are way cooler than 11th century psycho-stoners. Regardless, the name wears like a badge in the modern era, especially in my case. “Geek,” “nerd,” and “lush” are all odd badges of pride, but it’s really awesome to be all three.
Growing up geek wasn’t easy. I was picked on all through school by my peers (and occasionally teachers). Add in that my parents didn’t like my desired hobbies (id est, reading comic books and playing video games) and you’ve got a rough start at best. Here’s the thing, though…being a geek as an adult means my life ROCKS. Most adults my age hinge good days on sports teams or meaningfulness in work. Midlife crises are always pending and most women my age are pouring themselves over the modern fashions.
You know what? I don’t have to care. Yes, I like it when my Sharks win (Go San Jose!) and I like to look good, but my days don’t rest on those facts. If I’m having a miserable day, I go home and pop on an episode of Firefly or watch Dr. Horrible for the 851st time and the world is better. My midlife crisis doesn’t seem possible because, let’s face it, I never grew up. Being a geek means that I can still enjoy LEGO blocks, get giddy over Harry Potter, and dress up as a video game character for Halloween without judgement. Anyone that knows I’m a geek already expects it. Anyone that doesn’t expect it isn’t a part of my life.
Really though, being a geek is about being a part of something greater, something tangible and (in the more original sense of the word) awesome. There are inside jokes spread across the entire world which help form instant bonds (anyone that giggles when I start using the intonation of “Ooolld MaaAn!” from The Legend of Neil is epic), and the little things just help make this show/test/trial/farce called life so much more fun! I mean, really, how amazing is it to be able to give a random number (always 42) and have someone start ranting about towels? For anyone on the outside, it’s kind of like Theatre of the Absurd, but that’s okay (Ionesco and Albee were awesome, anyways)!
And the connections! Oh, the connections. I’ve met so many great people through my time as an out-of-the-library geek that I can’t even begin to list. The wonderful people at cons, the awesome “coworkers” of mine here at the site, and the personal heroes have made my life better than I could have ever imagined. My boyfriend and I got together from playing D&D, my “brother” and I connected over Joss Whedon and books, one of my longtime friends and I met because the person she was standing next to was wearing a cloak (and she was wearing a dragon t-shirt!), and hello! I’ve gotten the chance to meet and form connections with awesome people like The Damsels of Dorkington. Let’s face it: my life would be so boring without these people.
So, nowadays, geeks are becoming mainstream. Geek and Sundry is one of the top channels on YouTube, the three biggest blockbusters of the summer are based on comic books, games like the World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 have millions of subscriptions, and San Diego Comic-Con is a choice destination.
There are debates left and right about what’s actually “geeky” and what’s imitation and how you actually earn the term. I find it pretty simple: you earn the term by realizing it’s not a degradation. It’s not an insult. You earn it by embracing that knowledge isn’t a bad thing. Being a geek is about being interested. And, of course, being a geek is about yourself and loving every minute of it (if you happen to wear mana potion earrings and know which die to roll for a medium greataxe, well, good on you)!
My world is interactive, full of life, and full of new possibilities. I’ve always got something fun to turn someone on to (if it’s not The Guild or Warehouse 13, there’s always Doctor Who and John Carter) and I’ve always got something to look forward to (you know, announcements out of E3, cosplay pictures out of Dragon*con, and the latest strip of xkcd). The celebrities I love are intelligent and relevant for more than sex tapes, divorce scandals, and plastic surgery addiction. And my toys? Way cooler than having massive car payments. Then again, it’s probably a good thing I don’t have a house because I consider game consoles and PC upgrades as “household upgrades.” But that’s beside the point.
My point is that there is a passion and a meaning to life that others often seek. It may be comparable to a religion, but I don’t want to bring it to doctrine. I guess it’s more like a language. You speak it, you dream in it, it’s a part of your everyday life…and every type of “geek” has their own dialect (there’s Whovian, Trekkie, Warsie, Ringer, gamer, Otaku, and Tabletop gamer, to name a few). These little inclusions color life with experiences the non-geek misses out on (let’s face it, most of us won’t actually go to space in our lifetime) and creates worlds within the world of life.
So, in conclusion, I’m proud to be a geek- darn proud, and I’m excited to share the geekdom with all of you each and every week with the Geekly. As I near my one year anniversary with the column and my 100th post, I just have to say thanks. Thanks to all of the geeks that make my life worth enjoying and thanks to those who have made geekery more accessible and more awesome. Being a geek rocks.