Sunday, 10 March 2013

It's All Geek To Me!

Geeks, nerds, dorks, bookworms:- Whatever they're called these days, people who are engaged in perfectly harmless activities are often labelled something along these lines.  But what is a geek?  One on line dictionary describes them thusly:-

geek [geek] Show IPA
noun Slang.
1.
a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
2.
a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
3.
a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
Origin:
 1915- 20; probably variant of geck  (mainly Scots ) fool < Dutch  or Low German gek

geek·y, adjective
 
Let's break it down shall we?
 
Explanation 1 seems to imply that geekdom is entirely made up of those with any level of interest in the use of their PC.  This seems more than a little out of date.  Given that government stats (in the UK at least) state that around 75% of homes has a computer in the place somewhere and so this means that personal computer ownership is no longer geeky or that most western countries are in need of a name change.  If this is the case, I want to 'bagsy' Norbertland for Britain.
 
I haven't seen anyone referred to as a nerd solely for owning or even knowing about computers during my time so I'm going to have to assume that oddly, the meaning lifted here from the on line dictionary actually pre-dates the Internet.
 
Meaning 2 goes for the throat a bit by declaring the as yet undefinable geek as a 'dislikable person'.  Well, that's quite the declaration!  Sure, geek is still a term that can be use derogatorily but I've never personally known someone be declared unlikeable because they're a nerd.  Besides, this is also a meaning that seems to take the point of view of someone who might have a dislike of lack of understanding of said computer enthusiasts comings-and-goings.  Very curious as I'm quite sure this definition would be the completer opposite of someone who actively calls themselves a geek, therefore lending itself to be somewhat biased but why?
 
Also, overly intellectual?  Can one be such a thing?  That's like saying - out of context - too rich or too funny.  How can there be a ceiling on cleverness?
 
Okay so meaning 3 is where the dictionary editor here totally looses it.  Apparently the nerd is
a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
 
Let us, at this point, decide what the term means today.  Though hardly the most reliable source of information, Wikipedia (at the time of writing) informs us that there is no one catch-all figure of Poindexterism any more, stating that there are:-

Science geeks, Math geeks, Computer geeks, History geeks, Sci-Fi geeks, Fantasy geeks, Comic Book geeks, Video Game geeks, Board Game geeks, Music geeks, and even Sports geeks.
 
That's right y'all; sports geeks.
 
I would your honour, suggest that football fans fit very nicely into the notion of the geek being a person that escapes into their subject matter at the expense of their 'real life'.

Perhaps these days geekdom is relative, sometimes in direct opposition to the subject of their derision yet often quite closely linked.  Lager drinkers might think real ale supporters are geeks; On line and tabletop role play gamers might look down on their live action counterparts; soccer fans label anyone that owns a book as 'one of them there readers.'
 
The conclusion?
 
We're all geeks then.  Anyone who likes anything does so to a more or lesser degree than someone who likes another.  Better that than be the poor sod that can't find value in anything at all.

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