It’s chic to be a geek. Our society has finally come to the conclusion that it’s cool to be smart or a little different. Within limits of course. There will always be an anti-intellectual element who Tweet populist messages about people being “too smart for their own good” from their iPhones and Blackberries. But as long as geeks are perceived to have awkward social skills, it’s all good.
And therein lies acceptance.
It isn’t necessarily true, of course, that geeks don’t have social skills. Awkwardness is just part of the stereotype. Well, mostly. Gizmodo has a great post (with pictures) about The Socially Acceptable Geek Subgenre Scale. They point out that, “Being a geek no longer holds the stigma it once did. In fact, it can be downright cool to be a geek these days. But not all geeks are created equal. The Socially Acceptable Geek Subgenre Scale is a handy showcase of just where various types of geeks fall in the social hierarchy.” We’re talking about people like finance, movie and food geeks.
Liking to eat is one thing, but becoming really familiar with the exact time and water temperature to cook the perfect soft-boiled egg? Knowing the names of every hot chef and where they cook? Tracking exactly how far the basic ingredients in your meal traveled to get to you? This elevates hunger to a seriously geeky level, one that often makes people insufferable pricks to eat around. “Oh god, McDonald’s? I haven’t eaten there in years!”
Ouch. That last line hits a little close to home. Moving on.
Is it ever fun to play with geek stereotypes. The 56 Geeks Project makes it pretty clear that geeks go way beyond the original tech and gadget geeks. Way, way beyond. But in a fun, cartoony way. Granted, some of the geeks are more like subgenre geeks: Tron Geek, Apple Geek, KISS Geek. Some describe people who have no idea they’re geeks: Scrapbook Geek, Travel Geek. And one picture in particular would make me run screaming if I didn’t know a perfectly lovely woman who attends Anthrocon. Yes, I’m looking at Furry Geek.
Best thing about the project? You can order a poster of all the 56 types of geek. Because there’s some category of geek that hangs things like this on walls.
Well, perhaps the geeks in Wired’s Geekster Handbook, a Field Guide to the Nerd Underground wouldn’t hang the poster on their walls. They’re too busy being The Fanboy, The Music Geek, The Gamer, The Gadget Guy, The Hacker and The Otaku. You know – the original, classic, little black dress, never goes out of style kinds of geek.
My favorite guide to Geek Culture is also posted on Gizmodo. The Master Diagram of Geek Culture. It color codes Geek Types, Geek Activities, Geek Obsessions, Geek Social Communities, Geek Terms and Geek Idols in a not so easy to follow format, but one that can take up many, many minutes better spent doing other things while trying to follow. I can’t quite tell what glee club attaches to and I’m trying to understand why memes and trolls are linked. A poster of this on the wall would be helpful. Just sayin’.
Which leads to the final and ultimate geek type. The Geekologist. The techie, gadgety geeks may have adopted this term long ago, early on, but geek culture has expanded and grown since then. It requires people capable of plumbing the sociological, psychological, physiological, technological depths of geekery. People who spend hours analyzing lulz, Batman, Firefly, Spock and historical reenactments. People who who hang posters on the wall. People who write blog posts about this stuff. Geekologists.
Geeks and geek culture are very diverse. For example, some Geek Behaviors:
Wondering what exactly Sookie Stackhouse is
Watching Movies About Mars
Attending Renaissance Faires
Attending Steampunk Events
Wearing Circle Lenses like Lady Gaga
Creating home movie theaters that look like the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise
It could take a lifetime of study.