How Do You Geek?

These days it seems people never shut up about “geek chic” (thank you, hipsters) and just what it is about geeks that makes us what we are, versus those who merely emulate our “style”. I myself am guilty of discussing this a couple weeks ago right here, but as an offshoot, while writing that post, I began to formulate a question.

Multiple sources that discuss the difference between hipsters and geeks refer to geeks as merely people who are passionate about something. So, that’s the apparent definition these days. You’re not a geek if you wear a pocket protector and belong to the Chess Club. You’re a geek if you’re passionate about your apps. Or music. Or shoes. It doesn’t seem to stop – you can go geek over anything, according to the nowadays meaning of the word, if you love it enough.

I suspect that most of us geeks who frequent this blog are fans of comic books, video games, science fiction or technology. And there’s likely to be a large number of us who are geeky about many different things simultaneously, all of which doom us to geekhood – a fate we tend to embrace willingly, or we wouldn’t be glorifying the “geek” concept here.

For my part, I was first branded a geek for my overriding love of all things Tolkien, which began in grade school. Yes, I am a card-carrying, convention-attending (costumed, of course) Tolkien lover. I’m even named for The Lord of the Rings in an elvish naming convention. I swooned a little when posing for a photograph with David Wenham, the actor responsible for the beautiful portrayal of Faramir in Peter Jackson’s movies. (I suppose you could say I’m a geek for David Wenham, too, but that’s another concept for another day.) I am pretty darn hardcore.

I didn’t stand much of a chance of not being further labeled a geek. I also developed an unhealthy obsession with video games at an early age, excelled at subjects like physics and astronomy, studied Computer Science in college, was eternally tuned in to the SciFi channel (remember the good old days before Syfy?) and, in later years, became tip to toe embroiled in the world of comics.

If we were forced to wear a scarlet letter, I’d be perpetually emblazoned with the letter “G”.

But any one of those interests individually would qualify me as a geek these days. I could be a geek for a love of gadgets, or a geek for losing myself in literature, or a geek for my music collection. It’s gotten a lot easier to join Club Geek, and those who put in the hard yards doing things that weren’t entirely the norm, and for which they were frequently teased, have been relegated in the face of “geek chic” and the influx of people who call themselves “geeks” just because they enjoy something to distraction.

And there’s nothing really wrong with that. Let them be what they wish to be. (Even if it means embracing a term [geek] which has its etymological roots in a word meaning “simpleton” [gech]. My, how times have changed since 1511. One would have a hard time calling Bill Gates a simpleton now.)

What I became curious to know, in the course of plotting posts for this fine blog, is what exactly made you the geek you’ve come to be? Do you geek out over one single thing or many? Are you a recent convert or do you have a long tradition of obsessing over that which has made geeks into geeks forever?

I’m one of those bloggers who enjoy hearing from readers, so please don’t be shy. If you’re visiting this little corner of the ‘net, you’re probably a geek. And you’re probably proud to admit it. So join me in sharing the story of how you geek.

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