Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I’m not a nerd. I used to be one...

Thats the opening statement in a recent essay by Patton Oswalt. My friend Rich pointed it out to me and that first line realy caught my attention because it was very close to something I have been saying for years.

In fact, I have been meaning to make a post about how I am an "Anti Geek", A selective geek that denies being a nerd/geek and since I don't refer to myself in those terms and don't embrace ALL geek touchstones. I am shunned by current geek culture. This essay gave me new insights into that phenomenon and I hope to make that post soon. But in the meantime, here are my thoughts on Mr. Oswalts article itself.

Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die

I copied the text and listened to "Wake Up, Geek Culture. Time to Die" on my smartphone using a text to speech app I purchased for $2... (I think there is much to be said about THAT as it relates to the essay and I leave you to ponder the ramifications).

Many have been witness to my strong opinions about "geek culture" and how I have sought to avoid that label even though I love select things that are considered VERY geeky.

I agree with much of what he is saying, but believe he is glossing over a larger picture. Aspects of counter culture have ALWAYS been cherry picked by pop culture as they became "ripe"... Its just simply geek cultures turn. Its funny because he seems to set the dates for the beginning of the harvest a bit later than me. He blames the internet for the rapid acceleration, and I agree... But I would go much further back and say it really got rolling with the introduction of widely available cable television, home gaming, and home computing in general. As an example, I would most likely have complained about someone his age (he is only slightly younger than me) being the reason for good arcades closing because he was willing to sit at home and play sub standard home versions of the games! "Grumble Grumble! Spend a damn quarter ya cheapskate kid!" It's interesting, but because of big technology shifts, just those few birthdays probably mean that he and I had a vastly different teenage experience. In my oppinion, Geekdom was already on the upswing in popularity by the time he hit his teen years.

Also, later, but before the internet, publishing was in on the spread and dressing up of the techie underground to the mainstream. I was reader of Mondo 2000 (The Authoritative & Scholarly Journal of Cyberpunk Subculture) and during its run beginning in 1989, it could be found on many "fully stocked" magazine racks in pretty mainstream bookstores. It was freaky and tried hard to make things that had once been the realm of pure geeks, ultra fashionable. Look at these covers... Notice anything? heh. Smart drugs, Hot scientists and Virtual reality where already on the lips of many "normal" people through the power of the hot chick on the magazine cover.

Of course, Geek culture is not the first counter culture to be "adopted" by the masses, but it may be the final one... there are few sub culture berries left to pick. Much like getting chosen for sports teams, seems like the geeks may have been picked last.