The term 'geek' is quite an ugly one on face value alone, spoiled by a harsh guttural sound that makes it seem more of a gag reflex noise than a community to be worshipped. But, the geek community has taken leaps and bounds to be a recognised force to be reckoned with in today's brutally harsh and judgemental world. Where social splits are normalised, and cliques are beyond expected in high schools, geeks have today established themselves as a lifestyle of pride, not "just a phase", mom.
With humble beginnings as the worshipping of early, clunky computers or imagination-based board games, 'geeks' were humble guys - in fact, quite literally - a female geek was largely unexpected and as rare as owning a computer in the 70s. Nowadays, geeks are an essential part of life - revolutionising technology, spearheading social movements, pioneering the very best of meme culture and almost infecting every living person. How? Good question, allow me to explain...
We're all geeks
The above picture may confuse you in the context of geeks, but those eagle-eyed ones of you will have noticed the sub-heading, "we're all geeks".
My old art teacher actually suggested this to me, and on further thought, it really is true. A man full of wisdom, his suggestion really reached out to me. In my 7ish years of knowing him, we'd both lived up to ideals not conventional in normal society. I started out as the quiet guy who loved fine art, a subject heavily female dominated in contemporary society, and he was a male art teacher who held a passion in miniature sculpture painting. I've been called a geek before for my past passion in art, and I'm willing to bet he has too. Let's have a look at the definition of 'geek' itself for the answers to what being a geek really means:
"Typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby", Wikipedia.
So, yes, that quiet kid in the back of your parents 1981 classroom who wore glasses, high waisted trousers, carried maths text books around out of interest rather than necessity and loved computing was a geek. But under the above definition, which is also the viewpoint of most people when they understand what a 'geek' is, we're all geeks. We're all obsessed with something, like a hobby, or we're all enthusiastic about something. Yes, that does include fans of football 9or rugby, as us British guys say) and that does include fans of MMA. The term geek is a really encompassing thing, trapping us all within its iron grasps. From fans of anime and Pokemon all the way over to fans of golf, boxing, wrestling or anything else, we're all geeks at heart.
Does that make it a bad thing? Not at all.
The beautifully controversial world of social constructs
Just as gender is arguably a social construction, so too is the concept of geeks. In fact, under that umbrella of reasoning, we can determine that every single label under our sun is spawned from a social construction. Let's throw a few examples for veracity; geeks are a social construct based on one's obsession with a subject, typically comic books and computing as these were fascinations in its haydays. Jocks are a social construct based on the obsession of sport, usually football, as this was the emerging college sport at its inception. Slut is a social construct based on the level of sexual activity an individual, usually female, has in a period of time. They're all called social constructs because they were created by - well, society. The key is in the name; we created them. What does this mean practically? Well, we shape its meaning. Whilst geek used to be seen as a negative label, we are beginning to change that today through its normalisation in the media, with shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and National Geographic spearheading the subversion fight.
The fight is absolutely winnable, don't get me wrong, however it has notches down the path. As seen with the term 'slut', it holds extremely negative connotations. With interpretations of dirty morals, disease and sexual promiscuity, it's safe to say it is a less-than-desirable label, but through the march of progress made by feminism, many females are reclaiming it as their own word of positivity, removing its power as a negative force through an act of societal revolution.
Get where im going with this?
A Golden Age for geeks
A golden age for geeks has really arrived! Woo - exciting when put like that, yep, but there is still a lot of progress to be made. Whilst the idea of being a geek is really quite cool today, a certain stigma still does surround it within certain social groups. Whilst these groups are slowly becoming the minority, they still exist like an annoying fly that has been stuck in your kitchen for days on end.
This being said, those views are fading, and given the steps we've made since our early days of bedroom message boards and hushed coffee shop gaming, being a geek has never been such an awesome thing to realise. Whether you're an avid Apple fan, creating the very best gaming computer, spend your time watching the latest Anime Crunchyroll has to offer or painting miniature figurines, we're all geeks at heart, and that's definitely something we should celebrate.
So in this golden age for geeks, let's recognise how far we've come, but let's also keep sight of where we need to be. We need to shatter all stereotypes existing today, and as being a geek is a wholly social construct, we can only do this together. Spend the time to inform those critical of geek culture, maybe point them to this article, and expand their worldview. We're in the midst of a geek culture revolution, so let's make the most out of it.