Geek Chic vs. Geek Cred

Over on Wired you can read about the geeks guys behind Penny Arcade (Link), my favorite online comic strip (and a pretty hilarious blog) for the geeky gamer type. The whole article is great, but this paragraph in particular tickled me.

“The term geek has acquired a patina,” says Holkins, a writer prone to ornate verbiage and renowned for his witty blog posts that accompany each strip. He’s right “” the word is being reclaimed as a badge of pride. But the creators of Penny Arcade aren’t among these geek-come-latelies. They’re unreconstructed geeks of the old-school variety “” which is to say, of the high school variety.

I have noticed that being a geek has become much, much cooler than it was when I was in high-school once was. Rather than a general derision, it is now, as they say, “a badge of pride.” (Rock on!) Geek now has a range of nuances, with many different types, including science geeks, comic book geeks, bookish geeks, etc. And while you may be primarily one type of geek, there is usually cross over–meaning, if you are one type of geek, you probably traffic in other geekishness as well.

One of the side effects of Geek Chic I have noticed is the recent trend toward what I like to think of as an expensive, tarted-up version of geekdom that seems intent on parading itself through pop culture. Suddenly just because you sport a sweet set of thick-rimmed $500 designer glasses and an expensive sweater with a pi symbol on it, you’re a geek. Huh?

I am not one to place much stock in labels or cliques. I am not interested in fitting in somewhere, nor do I feel a burning need for belonging. And when I was in high school, that’s what being a geek was. It meant you didn’t belong anywhere, but you totally, inexplicably, belonged with this disparate band of outcasts and social mutants. You may have shared some common interests (sci fi, comic books, william shatner, etc.) but not necessarily and most certainly not all (I totally wasn’t into science or math, I was more of a grammar/book/film geek, oh and with post-punk and socialist influences in there somewhere).

Still, when the geek chic vs. geek cred debate comes up, I feel a little protective of the clan. So, I am encouraged by the rousing success these two little geeks have managed to enjoy with their little geekish empire.

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2 Responses to Geek Chic vs. Geek Cred

  1. Corvus says:

    g33k is the new l337.

  2. modhran says:

    For a long time I rejected the geek label, and often corrected people that I wasn’t a computer geek, I was a computer weenie.

    My justification is that Geeks were the programers, techs and builders, whereas I am an end user, a very accomplished one, but an end user nonetheless. Which helped me while I was working for a high tech company doing quality control, and web research.

    As an über end user I could give accurate user experience comments and not have to worry about the programming it takes to make those experiences better because I wasn’t bogged down with the technical prejudices of what was or wasn’t possible that the Geeks had.

    Now we need to get rid of the weenie stigma.

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