For a self-professed observer of human interaction, standing in the center of the convergence of several often-dueling social groups was a rather peculiar and curious event.
Last month, downtown San Diego became a sort of temporary internationally recognized base camp for the biggest names and companies in pop culture. Overrunning the streets, shops and restaurants were a veritable cornucopia of vibrant personalities hailing from all corners of the globe all partaking in the commercialism that has recently found its latest exploitable market in the culture that was once dejected by those who deemed themselves “cooler.”
It wasn’t too long ago, a somewhat skamp of kid with a knack for social interaction and inquiry dressed in second-hand graphic tees, slim jeans, Chuck Taylor’s, and shaggily frizzy hair roamed around with a steno pad, a pen, and a genuinely old messenger bag stolen from his father’s closet. He took notes about what made certain people cool, and others not. His idols were Mariah Carey, Buffy Summers, Fox Mulder, Ed Boon & John Tobias, and Ally McBeal (yeah, well, okay, they still are). And while he acknowledged that others probably noted his devotion to these people were the source of mockery when his back was turned, he brushed off such insults as misunderstandings and carried on with his journey. A journey not just of self-discovery, but of discovery of self with regards to society. Where did he fit in?
You see, it started in high school (don’t most things?). I fluttered about writing for the school paper and yearbook which gave me an opportunity to talk to pretty much everyone, from fellow students to school employees. I watched as people bullied, dated, volunteered, competed, studied, gossiped, and all the other typical goings-on that encompasses the traditional high school experience. I wasn’t socially awkward, I got along well with most of my classmates, save for the one or two bicker matches I found myself in. The problem it took years for me to figure out was that while there were various “in” crowds that took their place in the lunchroom (or journalism room in my case) I wasn’t actually in any of them. It sort of works for someone who can get lost just watching people and their interactions, curious as to what the motivations are behind them. The problem is that it seems to have followed me well into adulthood. I don’t mind as it’s a rather advantageous vantage point to observe the social changes in American society. But what I do mind is the desire to want to feel accepted, which is a natural human desire.
Luckily for me, the last decade has seen a dramatic shift in social acceptance for us observers. Not just observers, but all groups of people who were likely mocked in early years as social rejects for their love of science fiction, their oversized frames (which, back in the day people had not because they were cool, but because they were cheap), fantasy, and anything not as bright and bubbly as the pastels that dominated late 90s fashion. What? I read my Cosmo and Vogue like err’y other gay boy.
It should be known as I write this, I’m watching Full House and I’m drinking Bud Light from a white wine glass. #sryboutit
There are a few factors contributing to geek culture’s growth and acceptance. But before analyzing them, one must understand the term.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of GEEK:
a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
Definition the first: So uh, I’ll turn to the great and powerful wisdom of one my heroes, Buffy Summers:
I think it goes without saying that geek culture has certainly come a long way from its Osborne-ly origins of yestercentury.
a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
Definition the second: Getting warmer.
In fact if this were ten years ago, this would entirely be the case; and this is where I found myself in school. Urban Dictionary’s top playful definition seems to fall in line with this as well: “the people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult,” i.e. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Granted, I’m no Zuckerberg, but a guy can dream.
an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>
And there you have it. Technology. The key factor in today’s geek culture that links all subgroups together. From the video game geeks, to the mobile app developers, to the engineers behind the hardware released by Apple (etc. etc.), society’s ever-increasing dependency on technology has enabled those once shunned for their technological brilliance to step up as the architects of our future.