I’ve missed the worst of the “Fake Geek Girls” kerfluffle. By “missed” it, I mean to say that I blatantly ignored it. Now we’re getting the nice write-ups that happen after the buzz has died down. I’m okay with writing one of those I suppose.
I enjoyed this article by Kate Conway about the whole thing – and about the sense of exclusion. She touches on the obvious aftermath: Imposter Syndrome. Am I geek enough? Am I really a geek?
I feel like an imposter about a lot of stuff. I’ve written about how I “fake” a good presentation, when I feel crazy inside. I fake it. I fake it when I’m nervous walking down a city street at night by myself. People leave me alone because of that faking it. I fake it when I have to deal with people and all I want to do is curl up and wallow in silence for a few days. Who doesn’t fake stuff? Isn’t that part of life?
Other writers have touched on the middle-school cliquishness of this discussion. How it seems like people haven’t grown up into adulthood (though this is the internet, and there is no guarantee at all that the people who perpetrated most of it on Reddit, were in fact adults).
In reality, I am more like the “real” geeks.
At least, I relate to them a bit more. I was only sort of the ostracized-socially as a middle-schooler. Luckily, at my school, there were a LOT of us, so we had friends and our own brainy clique that other classes got excited about beating at flash card competitions. I was among a flock of the nerdiest of the nerds.
I looked like the typical geek. I had glasses, braces and I had to wear my headgear to school. You know how Katy Perry looks in the first part of the video for”Last Friday Night”? That was me. I still had friends. I didn’t get asked to dance or anything, but I had friends.
(The photo here is one of only 3 in existence with me and my headgear. I tended to whip that sucker off when cameras came around. But obviously, I was more interested in my horse here.)
You know what I remember about being part of this group?
We were defensive.
We were always alert for a threat. If someone was going to make fun of us (which they often did), it was our job to lash out at them and to try to make ourselves feel superior.
The way we could make ourselves feel superior was by virtue of the random esoteric knowledge we could draw up from our skulls. And the way we could make them leave us alone was by waving that around.
This is what the whole thing feels like. Pretty girls are a threat.
Instantly defensive, socially-awkward and not sure what else to do, the only way to defend against that is to ask really deep intense questions about stupid details that no one cares about. When she gets them wrong, then she’s not a “real geek” and therefore less of a threat. This is, of course, ridiculous.
“Geek chic” has been going on for a few years now. It’s more socially acceptable to like things that are geeky. The sci-fi books that I got made fun of in school are something that would be considered mainstream for my stepson. This is also a threat to the geeks that were picked on for being geeky. Suddenly, it’s okay to like Star Wars and Superheroes? Now? After all of these years? It’s nice. I like having stuff I can talk about with more people.
But here’s the rub: Now that everyone is into the geek stuff with us, it means we got picked on for nothing.
To this I say: Yeah, so did everyone else. It’s not high school anymore. We can grow past those wounds.
I can admit that I see these perfectly coiffed, perfectly dressed, tiny thin women at work, and I instantly wonder if I’ll ever be cool enough to talk with them. My inner geek is wounded and terrified of those people talking sports over there. I get over it. I talk to them. They like me. They don’t always “get” me, but they like me.
I sometimes feel the urge to defend my geek cred. I want to tell you what areas I’m a geek about and which areas I know nothing at all. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because you like me, and I’m not a threat to you.