**Before we get started, let me make clear that there is a bit of truth and humor throughout. In short, it’s not that serious!! If you take it too much to heart then maybe it really does apply. YMMV with this blog post**
So in the last few years we as geeks, have had the joy of watching a lot of what we like come to the mainstream zeitgeist. We have seen TV shows, movies and gaming and other things that we enjoy go from a niche portion of society to something that’s accessible to everyone. But sometimes in our own enthusiasm there may be a few things that geeks drop the ball on and bring along a side eye so, let’s take a look at a few things a really good geek should be aware of.
1. Be yourself…or somebody else…or whatever makes you comfortable – In other words, if you are into Sci-fi, comics, gaming, trivia or whatever it’s ok and really has always been ok to express that side of you. Part of the reason why it’s more acceptable now is the money generated by geeks for geeks to make these ventures possible. As pop culture has embraced many popular trends such as comic books being brought onto the big screen, gaming being a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s almost scandalous to say “I don’t know what’s going on.” How many of you are going to see The Hobbit this weekend? Raise your hands. How many of you have read The Hobbit? Keep your hands up. How many of you are not only going to see it but plan on going to see in in HFR? A few hands are left. How many of you know what HFR is? Good!! Those are your true geeks!!!!
2. Speaking of HFR, know your acronyms! – Pop quiz, what actor appeared in LotR and RotS! What’s the difference between a USB and HDMI port? Which franchise is better? SW or ST. What date is GoT set to start next year? What’s the difference between an AT-AT and AT-ST? Great. Post an animated gif of you with thumbs up for being such a quality know it all!
3. Know their way around a motherboard – this more for the computer geeks out there. Ok so you may not be able to handle a hammer, or know how to use a set of vice grips or for that matter you may not have a degree in medicine but believe me for those that do and run a business where some of what was mentioned, they need us. Without us, they can’t: fix a fax machine, install a printer to a network, open an e mail, connect to the internet, hook their blackberries and iPhones in remotely to the office or install an OS. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. For the underground rebel geeks, most of us know how to jailbreak a phone, know what piratebay is and how to get torrents and hiding files in jpegs. Did you get your phone wet? Let me put it into some dry rice for you or how about using a hair dryer for that. There are some places (and mine is one of them) where business specific applications won’t run without a few of us geeky types running around putting out fires with the knowledge buried in our heads that helps these places run.
4. For the love of all that’s holy, know your comic book basics! – If you don’t know who Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are, stop reading right now. We are living in an age where 20 years ago a lot of what some of dreamed about was still an imagination. Comic book movies are the ‘in’ movies. There are TV shows that have come, gone and are coming based upon our favorite characters. But what’s the sense in knowing some of these characters when if you proclaim yourself to be a geek and don’t know how Spider-man came to be (and for that matter don’t know why ‘Spider-man’ has to be hyphenated) or what plant Superman is from or why there are fanboy battles over Marvel or DC (not to mention why some choose to stay out of the fray and pick up Image and IDW books, IJS) At one point of your geek like you picked up a book, you got to know it, or you watched a show somewhere along the way and if you got hooked you looked where it came from so if you are a geek over the age of 20 and still don’t know why you can’t see Superman team up with Captain America, then we need to sit down and have a long talk. But then…you also have your manga fans too.
5. Hygiene – Touchy subject I know and this may not necessarily even be ‘geekish’ but someone’s gotta say it. While I love my geek folk and love hanging around you guys at cons and comic shops, let’s stop perpetuating the stereotype that some of us are part of the unwashed masses. This goes for girls as well as guys. A little while back I was at an event and was taking a picture with a young lady in a very elaborate cosplay outfit. Nicely detailed and in line with the character. But, one could tell that she didn’t wash and I mean really tell. Again it’s a delicate subject but come on, if you are going to be around the public even after you have come up for air after hanging out in your basement (another stereotype that some still perpetuate) for a few years, a little soap and water goes a long way.
6. Collecting- all good geeks collect SOMETHING and if you are in denial, let me help you. If you have more than one object and they all have some kind of a common theme, you have a collection. It could be cards, comics, toys or artwork. Why hide it? If your collection is something that you are proud of, show it off. Now if it’s hentai, you just might want to keep that to yourself.
7. What’s that track you are listening to on your phone? – To be honest, years ago, I would have told very few people that I enjoyed the works of John Williams because at that time it just didn’t seem cool but now, I think I can say that I have more music from the aforementioned as well as Howard Shore, and Hans Zimmer than whatever this crap that passes as pop music these days. And I enjoy it.
Most mornings traveling to work that’s what I listen to and even had a few friends in my office ask me to build a playlist. Sometimes my day is made listening to The Bridge of Khazad-Dum or the theme to Beowulf, and every once in a while I will still come back and listen to whatever is on the radio until it all becomes sequential noise again. A lot of my geeks friends have mp3 players filled with anime themes mashup ups and all kinds of stuff and that’s what makes life fun. We don’t have to be stuck listening to what everyone else is listening to and trying to pass it off as music! HA! But don’t trip because I still may surprise you and drop this on you!
(Sadly this is one of the RARE Kanye tracks that I actually like. A good old school geek will be able to listen to this track and tell me what song that the beat reminds me of)
8. Know important geek holidays – What is the significance of May the Fourth be with you? Why is the 1st Saturday of May such an important one? Why is there a mass exodus yearly to San Diego in July and to New York in October? Who was born on January 2 and 3rd? And what’s so special about April the 12th?
9. It’s ok to like sports too! – if there is one thing that I really dislike about The Big Bang Theory show is that there is a perpetuated stereotype that most geeks don’t like nor know anything about sports. Not true at all. I ran track in high school and pretty decent at basketball. And although my days of playing any sport are behind me, I can talk smack with the best of them when it comes to the NFL and I have gotten my feet wet with the EPL (look it up if you don’t know what that is!) Not to mention in the past few years, many sports companies have done business with comic artists to promote their business. Some of the works of Greg Horn and other comic artists have appeared in SI and ESPN magazines over the years. Some of my friends and I have a podcast that we do and we mostly schedule it so we don’t miss our football games on Sundays. And if that’s not geeky enough, do Fantasy football because there is some truth that it’s RPG for sports addicts!
10. Gaming – I can never say too much about gaming. Pick your poison. Console gaming, PC gaming tabletop gaming. Great geeks have their hands into everything. A real cool geek will tell you why they like or hate IGN.com or why Boardgamegeeks.com is a good place to get info for tabletop gaming. An OG geek will tell why blowing on a Nintendo cartridge works, new school geeks know how to easily install a SSD into a PS4. Some geeks even love their handhelds and really geeky super-geeks have emulators on their devices running old school games and stuff you can’t run anywhere else. For those that are into tabletop stuff, you are the masters of DnD and are the guys people contact when trying to get that M:TG deck validated. And guess what, it’s great that you enjoy your hobby. Not to mention for those that are really good, they are making money from gaming and when you can pull down 6 to 7 figures in tournaments, that’s saying something. A few years back geeks wouldn’t be caught dead out in public playing cards but now in some regions there are storefronts dedicated to having gamers come out and not only play games but socialize with others of similar interests and hobbies. If you ever happen to be in MD, stop by Games and Stuff or Labyrinth Game Shop in Washington DC as they are great places for board and card gaming.
11. Don’t be afraid to show your geek pride – This almost goes back into comics and movies being made popular by mainstream culture. Admittedly, it’s really cool nowadays where I can see just as many comic, movie and Dr. Who fans as I do sports fans. It’s something not relegated to the kids anymore, there are a lot of adults I see who are big Spider-man and Batman fans, Star Wars fans and some many others where again a few years ago showing love for your particular faction or hobby was frowned upon.
12. Speaking of…Cosplay – One of the biggest hobbies, fashions and art styles to really make a surge in the past few years is that of cosplay. In a nutshell its when people dress in costumes and emulate their favorite characters from comic, movie, gaming and book mediums. You will find this often at conventions, comic and gaming shop events and many fans also get together and do it for charity also. Did anyone hear about Batkid in San Francisco last month? That was put together by the make A Wish Foundation and cosplayers. Cosplay is something not just relegated to one part of geekdom but everyone big small and different races and background all come together to really show their love of fandom and why? Because we love what we do.
13. ‘Geek’ isn’t just for the guys – if it’s one thing I think is still an issue when it comes to geeks and popular culture is that far too many of us still have this idea that it’s only for the guys. Too many comic books are still catering to men, too many people still think that girls shouldn’t game or if they do, they should stick to games like Mario brothers or other cutesy girly games not knowing that some of the women who do game can handle them easily in Call of Duty, Madden and a few other games where many think it’s still a male only world. This is something that I hope will change and soon because if anyone is paying attention you have just as many ladies who are dragging their guys to see The Hobbit and Thor. You have many ladies who aren’t just reading comics but also running shops and creating books. And I know that there are many out there who know their way around M:TG and WoW so guys, ease up on that myth that girls don’t game because if you keep believing that hype, you will find one that will manhandle you at your own game.
So in closing (yes, I know there’s 13 points) in this day and age where most of popular culture revolve around a lot of what we love (no, I won’t write one more just to even it out.) we are finding more and more that it’s ok (well if you are so brilliant you write it and I will include it!) to let our geekiness hang out. Just because we enjoy our games (stop pestering me and just do it if you don’t like odd numbered points!) and other hobbies doesn’t make us any less interesting or ‘weird’ in society’s eyes. In fact it may be safe to say that a lot of what geeks like is the ‘new normal’. When we look at the fact that movies games and comics generate a ton of income nowadays, it would almost be crazy to not find something to embrace. This entry is just to let you know (hey bud, you do realize that today is Friday the 13th right? Roll with it!) that it’s ok to be yourself and enjoy who you are and not let others tell you that it’s wrong that you know useless trivia, or that you are more handy around a data program that you are with a socket wrench or that you dress too cartooney. There are many ways that you can simply be who you want to be and still fit in without ever having to worry about what others think and truth be told some of the ones that label geeks as odd or weird, are some of the ones who admire us most. So, as you sit down tonight in that dark theater for the next round of Bilbo’s adventure, build a fearsome red/black Commander deck (BTW anybody wanna help me build one?) or debate in Gamestop why BF4 is better than CoD:G be happy and proud of the fact that these days are the most enjoyable ones that we have and they have never been better than what we have right now. Embrace the geek within.