On Geekdom

I normally don’t pay much heed to vanity “holidays”, unless it’s something funny like International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), something yummy like National Cheesecake Day (July 30), or something ridiculous like World Beard Day (this year it’s on September 1). (Don’t get me wrong, I love beards and I tend to find bearded men to be incredibly attractive, but color me surprised to find that they get their own recognized day of appreciation.) And for those of you wondering if we knitters get our own day, yes we do: Worldwide Knit in Public Day is scheduled for Saturday, June 9, and you can learn all about it right here. But it was another one of these “holidays” that has actually inspired today’s post, and it celebrates something that is close to my heart. Today is Geek Pride Day, a day intended to celebrate every aspect of geek culture. (It also happens to be Towel Day, which celebrates the life and work of Douglas Adams, the author and creator of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and fandom, which itself can be included within the celebrations of Geek Pride Day.)

These days, I am pretty proud and accepting of my identity as a geek, but it took me a long time to get to this place. I should’ve known I was a geek in the making when I was 8 and wrote a brief little “article” for my school’s newspaper all about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World…but I didn’t. I should’ve known I was a geek in the making when I was a kid and I always seemed to have my nose in a book before I even started preschool…but I didn’t. I should’ve known I was a geek in the making when I tested for and got into a rigorous academic program at my high school…but I didn’t. Not when people called me “The Walking Encyclopedia” in late elementary school because I could spout knowledge off the top of my head, or when I’d consistently get high scores and top percentiles in reading on various standardized tests, or when I became obsessed with a New Zealand TV series that was essentially a post-apocalyptic teenage sci-fi soap opera called The Tribe in my early years of high school…it was essentially my first niche fandom. (Episodes of that show are now available on both YouTube and Vimeo, if you’re interested in watching or can afford to watch it in HD on Vimeo.) Those years I remember struggling to desperately try and fit in with the more popular kids, a crowd that I now realize would’ve never been the most accepting of me in their circle in the first place (although a handful of those kids did actually show kindness to me in high school). For the longest time, I was a geek in denial. I honestly didn’t begin to appreciate the geekiness that I had already possessed until The Lady Bryan came into my life. As we became friends, I was finally able to reconcile my dalliances with anime (which I never became hugely obsessed with, but I did have some Sailor Moon and Yu Yu Hakusho mixed in with my Pokémon as I was growing up), the occasional sci-fi, and Monty Python with my overall personality: one who enjoys making her own mental database of popular music of everything from doo-wop to heavy metal, who can play along with Jeopardy! with confidence, who can enjoy debating aspects of Harry Potter with friends and/or former rivals or even random people on Tumblr, and who reads whatever she wants and doesn’t care who notices. My love for knitting came about a little later, just after high school, but even then as my skills improved, I was able to develop my own database of knowledge from experience that I now use to try and pass on to others who are either insecure about their skills or are looking to improve. In her book Knitting Rules, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee talks about different kinds of knitters as sort of characters, but I like to think of myself as a combination of two of them: the Knitting Missionary and the Knitting Sensei, both a (secular, knitting-related) preacher and a teacher. I tend to approach the spread of knowledge like I approach cooking, I don’t believe in “secret recipes”…I believe knowledge (or recipes or patterns) should be made readily available to others. Knowledge is not something only meant for the wealthy, privileged, or employed…it belongs to everybody. That is one element of geekdom that I love: that we’re willing to talk endlessly about the things that interest us and share our knowledge and fandoms with others.

What else is geekdom about? Geekdom is not defined by one fandom or activity or pastime. Not every geek is into Star Wars or Star Trek…or even sci-fi, for that matter! (Count myself among that third option, although I do enjoy watching the Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy movies. 😄) Not all geeks are into LARPing (Live-Action Role Playing) or cosplay. Not all geeks write fanfics (although The Lady Bryan is bloody brilliant at it). Not all geeks play tabletop games (but the actor Wil Wheaton is more than willing to talk about it). Not all geeks watch anime (which my dearest friend Manda-Panda 🐼 does and is willing to tweet all about it). Some geeks watch wrestling (that, I do share with Manda-Panda) and are ready to debate and wax poetical about favorite wrestlers and storylines or are willing to drop a (as former WWE Champion CM Punk would put it) a “pipe bomb” or “truth bomb” of an unpopular opinion. Some geeks follow their favorite shows closely and fill notebooks with information and opinions (as I used to do with Fox’s original run of American Idol and I now do with the songs that are entered into the annual Eurovision Song Contest). Some geeks are ready and willing to debate everything from the Marvel movies to current politics (although the latter I only debate on individuals’ posts as most of the Internet’s Comments Section has turned into the Tenth Circle of Hell of which all dignity has been stripped, and where the words “intelligent conversation” are a curse). And some geeks yell out responses to Jeopardy! clues with such fervor that had people like me been around back then, Dorothy Zbornak would’ve actually stood a chance of making it onto the show itself (as seen in the Golden Girls episode “Questions and Answers”). Some geeks turn their constant talking of their passions into a career (like comedian and TV personality Chris Hardwick, who I like to think of as my celebrity spirit animal). And some geeks will even find a way to work a Golden Girls plotline into a normal, everyday conversation 😌. Geekdom is simply possessing great knowledge and passion for the things we care about in life. And we usually have fun doing all these things.

Side note: there is currently a convention going on in Orlando called Mega-Con (much in the style of San Diego Comic-Con or Atlanta’s Dragon-Con). I have never been to one of these kinds of conventions, but be assured it is on my bucket list.

As for the post that inspired this one, which you can find here at The Tony Burgess Blog, Tony mentions a little bit of biblical wordplay and proclaims that “The geek shall inherit the Earth.” This actually made me think of a band from Germany that did a whole song around that phrase many years ago. They are no longer together, but a little pop rock band called Wir sind Helden (which is German for “We Are Heroes”) made a song called “The Geek (Shall Inherit)”, which is mostly in German but contains a few English phrases. It’s basically a song of encouragement for those who’ve been teased for their geekiness, letting them know that they can basically go on to great things, “inherit the earth”. Here is the chorus, first in its original German and then translated into English:

Die Verletzten sollen die Ärzte sein

Die Letzten sollen die Ersten sein

Sieh es ein: the meek shall inherit the earth

Die Verletzten sollen die Ärzte sein

Die Letzten sollen die Ersten sein

Die Ersten sehen als Letzte ein

The geek shall inherit the earth

The injured shall be the doctors

The last will be the first

See it: the meek shall inherit the earth

The injured shall be the doctors

The last will be the first

The first ones will be the last ones

The geek shall inherit the earth

I think, given today, that this song is a little extra special. You can listen to it as is, or you can google around for a translation of the lyrics, but either way, I am choosing to close my post today with “The Geek (Shall Inherit)” by Wir sind Helden. Happy Geek Pride Day to all you geeks out there! You are all beautiful souls and don’t stop being you!

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  1. Mr Knitter

    I have been called a Geek many times, but I don’t know if I am. I am not into football or sports in general and would rather have a spreadsheet to work on than go to the gym. I am not really into sci-fi and am proud to say, never seen Star Wars, but I do love certain odd things, mathematics being one. I love the idea of being a Geek as it has an air of respect to it, but I will never be a Big Bang type, although I do love the show. I will have to have a think about this now as to where I fit in. I always think of myself in the words of Frank N. Furter as an “Unconventional conventionalists”, and yes I can recite every word to the film. I was a goth for most of my teens and early 20’s, but that just makes me an odd-ball.

    With regards to Vanity Holidays, you should read a buddy of mine George Mayhood’s book Every Day is a Holiday which covers every vanity holiday he could find and he celebrated each one each day covering a whole year. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24116776-every-day-is-a-holiday

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  2. Crystal P (snowlessknitter)

    Rocky Horror is a fantastic film. There’s a shadow cast that performs every couple of weeks down in Orlando. I’ve always thought of going to it someday. And I just love the mantra from late in the show: “Don’t dream it…be it.” I wish I could live up to that more sometimes than I actually do.

    I’m not a Big Bang Theory type of geek, either. I wish I was capable of doing complex math, but alas, the best I could do was Probability & Statistics. Calculus is a foreign language to me, and physics is a mythical realm. I think I’m definitely more of a Dorothy Zbornak type of geek (well-read, although I believe she was portrayed as an English major…) than I am a Sheldon Cooper type of geek (physics genius stuff aside, he’s also into comic books and sci-fi, something I could never quite get into).

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