Being a geek is a great thing. I think we're all geeks. Being a geek means you're passionate about something and that defines your uniqueness. I would rather be passionate about something than be apathetic about everything.
OMG THIS IS IT!!! My mind is doing cartwheels right now! The moment has arrived to gush over ALL THE THINGS that make me want to come out of my shell with all the bells and whistles.
Lest I inundate you, dear reader, with what would take hours and hours of face-to-face conversations — and risk turning this post into a long-winded paean — I’d like to give you a peek into my inner geek for now… Star Wars and Star Trek (though I don’t speak Klingon), the Sword and Sorceress and Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley, crying when the great Ursula K. Le Guin moved on, how being a good Hitchhiker meant always bringing a towel, bellyaching laughs watching The Big Bang Theory (Amy’s my girl!), never tiring of Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaa, and Castle in the Sky, being ensorcelled by NASA’s posts on Instagram… Well, you get it. If being a geek at its most distilled form is about being ardent about something, then I’m definitely proud to be one to embody that fire.
Our Day, Our Time
Geek Pride Day is celebrated every May 25th and became official in the US in 2008. Why this date? Star Wars premiered on May 25, 1977 is why. From 1998 to 2000, Tim McEachern put together several Geek Pride Festival and Geek Pride Day events at a local bar in Albany, New York. Dick Morley, creator of the programmable logic controller, had hosted Geek Pride Day gatherings since 2001 at his retreat in New Hampshire called The Barn. Then this day gained worldwide attention in 2006 as Día del Orgullo Friki (friki ＝ geek) — when Spanish blogger Germán Martinez organized the first celebration with the biggest public demonstration occurring in Madrid.
Avid historians trace the cultural roots back to the freak scene of the 1960’s which was a component of the bohemian culture, The Mothers of Invention who were known for their sonic experimentation and innovative album art, and Frank Zappa who was famous for his musical genius, free-form improvisation, and nonconformity.
Since then, Geek Pride Day has promoted this complex subculture, with the underlying principle of embracing what isn’t necessarily popular or mainstream as long as it is your passion.
What is a geek? You know one when you see one — or better yet, when you interact with one. We tend to gravitate towards each other, haha.
These are the general, salient points adapted from geekprideday.org —
But these dreams usually follow the path less-traveled. Oftentimes, we blaze our own trails.
Technology is seen as a means to establish order, whether it be the conventional one at the time or through innovation. We are drawn to new methods as early adopters, or create our own.
The knowledge we seek goes beyond the academic or the abstract. What we acquire is practically applied to real-world or fictional situations. Even fantasy worlds follow rules. Yet this set of consistent rules allows some wiggle-room for variability and unpredictability. Think quantum physics and magick.
At least that’s how we seem to an unsympathetic observer. I prefer to see it as perseverance, and also resilience. What keeps our motors running isn’t a mere pastime to us.
Since we have the potential to be nonconformists and our deep interests tend to veer away from the mainstream, there is the general, albeit misguided, perception that we are socially inept. This is not an essential condition to being a geek.
Geeks come in all shapes, sizes, and spheres of interest. Take fountain pens for example. It is a passion we nurture and share among like-minded individuals. Our geekiness comes out in full force during pen meets and pen shows. And it is glorious!
A Word from the Wise
What does being a geek mean to you?
According to Google, “geek” means “a person who is knowledgeable about and obsessively interested in a particular subject, especially one that is technical or of specialist or niche interest.”
I generally agree, but the above Google definition is much too flat for my experience of geekdom. It takes away the human bits, like how it is to be bullied for something you love, but also how gratifying it is to find your geeky tribe.
For example, in recent years I've found you (that’s me, Lekz ;)) and a couple of other people who are into tabletop roleplaying as much as I am :D The same bunch of people are also into some of the stranger things I'm into:
- The macabre (all the true crime series!!!)
- Witchy things (the metaphysical and how we can tap into those energies through crystals, sigils, symbolisms of flowers, astrology, and shadow-working)
- Japanese anime and manga culture
- Video games and playthroughs (because I don't play console games anymore since discovering tabletop RPGs)
- Mysterious ocean creatures (we just love to scare ourselves)
- How axolotls experience cruel science experiments (there is no dual-colored axolotl in the wild, some scientists just thought to cut two differently-colored axolotl fetuses and stick them together)
...and much, much more (just need to cut this off because I feel I'll have to write a novel to cover absolutely everything).
In what way/s do you consider yourself a geek?
In many ways, I fit the bill when it comes to the person you would stereotypically label as ‘geek’. I'm interested in new technology, I love reading about new scientific discoveries, and in my spare time I study a bit of philosophy and social psychology.
But I think what really defines me as a geek is my one particularly niche interest—tabletop roleplaying and dice-collecting. It's a lovely pastime. I started off with Dungeons and Dragons, but I'm currently playing a couple of campaigns using a roleplaying system I built—Karma. <3
How do you express your geekiness in your daily life?
I'm having a hard time answering this because I'm not entirely sure how other people live their lives. :))) But I suppose I spend more time in front of the computer screen than the average person (that's a lot considering everyone needs a computer for work nowadays). I have also discovered that some people don’t journal?? How does one live like that??
Ah! And also—when stressed or emotionally affected by something, what comforts me is researching some odd fact or trivia. I have a lot of information stored in my brain—most of them I can't USE. :))) But it's nice to just know things.
One popular aspect of being a geek is being technologically savvy. As an illustrator, how do you translate your creative ideas from paper to screen?
…Most of the time... how do I phrase this... there is no transition from paper to screen. There is just... the screen. Haha! Especially since the advent of graphic tablets that you can attach to your computer. This method is how I create the artwork for the Grumpy Kitty series (yes it’s going to be a series!!! I’m working on the next one, Grumpy Kitty Café, and it’s gonna be so cute <3)
But in my childhood, bond paper and pencils were things I was always happy to receive on special occasions. If there were a stray pencil I found on the ground, it would come home with me.
Even though nowadays I don't draw much on paper, when I do have ideas, I need to write them down. Physically. And my go-to fountain pen is a Pilot 912 with a posting nib. :> I have a journal in my side table, always within reach, and a separate binder that lives in my bag. It carries all my rough ideas and spontaneous eurekas, campaign outlines (for tabletop RPG), mind-maps for how I want my life to be, and yes, the occasional cute doodle. <3
Any personal and practical advice for other creative geeks out there?
For a long while, “geek” was used as a derogatory word.
It was a slanderous label—people tended to avoid being called “geeks” for fear of bullying or embarrassment; people even avoided interests that would associate them with the term. Being a “geek” was a source of shame, and it would automatically stick you in the “oddball” table, with all the other “geeks”, and it would leave people feeling outcast. (This still happens today, I know a few people who don’t like to disclose that they like anime.)
But when these so-called “geeks” began to come in and create new technologies, such as the internet and social media and video games and various computer languages, most people decided that “geeks” do have their place in society.
We are the unseen ones; the ones who work quietly in the background, with all of our skills and all of our knowledge, and almost never see the limelight.
But our lives are colored by the myriad of knowledge and information that is unavailable to or shunned by the greater society—most of the things I mentioned above—and we find joy in knowing them, because it makes the humdrum of life that much less boring.
So like Jimi Hendrix sings—“Wave your Freak Flag high!”
Happy Geek Pride Day!
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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!