Recently I was linked to the Society for Geek Advancement website to view a video.  If you have not seen it yet then go here and check it out.  I will wait for you. OK so now that we have seen the video, read Wil W.’s rant here. All done?  OK now for my rant about the rant. I would have left this as a comment on Wil’s blog but I think my rant was a bit long.

I have been a self-identified geek for over 20 years. I was a geek in high school. I admit it.  However, according to many of the comments on Wil’s blog, I am not a geek.  WTF?  Who decided what was geek and not geek and why was I not included in the decision?

I taught teachers how to use the Apple II in elementary school.  Yes little 4th grade me taught the TEACHERS.  But, since I no longer use it I don’t remember BASIC.  I was a founding member of the computer club in elementary school – never used a modem until I was 20 years old.  I took classes at The Ohio State University in computers in 6th Grade.  I was considered gifted and focused much attention on computers. In middle school I played on the TRS-80.  I learned LOGO and DOS.  I never personally owned a computer until the PCjr came out.  It took a year before I RTFM and learned to install the DOS to the hard drive.  But then High School happened, and in the desire to fit in I ran as far away from my passion as I could.  I returned to college in 1999 – ten years after graduating and got a degree in Computer Information Systems.  I created crappy web pages and played computer games, but lost too much time that much of the technology passed me by a long time ago.  I learned Java, COBOL, C (not C# or C++, C), CSS, JCL, Active Server, and other things that due to the burst of the dot-com bubble I have yet to use 5 years out of college.  I am a stay at home mom with zero budget to purchase the programs that would allow me to stay on top of changes.  So I guess that means I am no longer a geek, by some peoples standards.

I can and have set up systems in LINUX, administered my kids computer with Edubuntu, which I recommend to anyone with children.  But to determine the difference between slackware and Debian, I couldn’t.  Vi vs emacs, again no preference as I rarely use either.  But does this make me not a geek?

RPG’s – hmmm  I played D&D in high school for about a month. The gaming stank, sorry Sam, James, or who ever else played with us as I can no longer even recall.  I never got into it, after 1 campaign I was done.  Not that I do not have respect for the people who love D&D.  My husband has somewhere in all his stuff his characters he rolled before I knew him.  He stopped playing in the 90’s when we got married. I do know what the different d numbers mean, but could not tell you when you would have to use them.  I don’t do many online games but I do play Puzzle Pirates, a MMORPG, but less for the role playing and more for the games.  So I guess I am not a geek?

Comic books – my husband collects Batman.  I have spent enough time in comic book stores that new ones can still excite me.  However, it is not a focus of my life, unless you count the time I spend putting them in a database to figure out how much insurance we need to have on the collection. I have read most of them at one point or another, but could not tell you what characters show up in which ones or specifics of story lines.  So I guess I am not geeky enough about them.

Doctor Who, Torchwood, Buffy, Angel, Star Trek, Star Trek:TNG – I love these shows.  As a matter of fact I am rewatching Torchwood as I type this.  I couldn’t hold a major conversation about the finer points of the shows, I just liked watching them.  I don’t go to conventions, I don’t speak Klingon (and those that do sometimes scare me with their devotion).  So I guess I am not geeky enough.

I follow several people on Twitter, and have my TweetDeck open most of the time.  But I only got into it a few weeks ago.  So far behind the curve.  I have a facebook account, but not a lot of friends.  So again there, I am not geeky enough.

I will read anything.  My parents used to tease me that if I could not have a book at the table I would read the nutrition labels just to be reading something.  The book is always better than the movie.  I have yet to find one that the reverse was true for.  I love Issac Asimov’s Robots and Foundation books, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Piers Anthony, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and many others that I would love to drop a pretty penny for their work.  And there in is my innate geekdom.  I read the encyclopedia for fun as a child.  I know tons of useless trivia.  Not that I can always access it appropriately.  I am little miss can’t be wrong and drive many people nuts with my knowledge.  However, I did not get good grades in school and was not included in the nerd category by the nerds themselves. 

I hung out with band geeks, theater geeks, and the other socially awkward who in no way would be considered a geek.  I AM socially awkward to this day.  I don’t make friends easily as I often feel too tongue-tied to get to know anyone on a deeper level than acquaintances. As a matter of fact, I don’t even talk to more than a couple of people I have known from school.  Although, I do miss a few people, and would love to catch up with them, but it has been 20 years. 

But from reading many of the comments at Wil’s blog, the point may have been missed in both the video and what Wil said.  There did seem to be a current in the video of “what I am not” and not enough pride in “what I am”.  However, to me the video speaks of “I am not JUST the living in my parents basement, playing RPG’s, watching Star Trek, with no social life stereotype”.  Shaq, who no one at first glance would consider himself a geek, is one. His passion for Superman is tattooed permantently on him.  That is devotion to a part of geek culture, maybe not a full-card carrying member of the stereotype, but a geek none the less.  And Ashton Kutcher, who I learned from the comments was a biochemical engineering major, and photography buff, and yet played football, is kinda geeky in my book.  I think people confuse characters and public persona with who a person really is inside.

And perhaps that is the lesson to be learned – no stereotype fully desribes anyone.  And no one is the stereotype.  Each of us has a inner geek struggling to get out and embrace something.  Be the best at something you love. That is the message of geek.  For me it will be my desire to learn something new every day, read something that means something to me, and have a passion in my life.