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By any other name

Posted by on September 20, 2013 – 5:46 pm

The most common argument that my kind of people get into, more than any other topic, is on what to call themselves. Some terms are seen as harmless and cute, while others can be taken to the offending extreme. Some call us “Nerds”, others “Geeks”, a few “Dorks”. A large number will shout, “I’m a nerd, not a geek.” while the other half will state, “I’m a geek not a nerd.” Few realize they are not arguing what the definition of the word is, just which one is used. We all love the same movies and video games aside from a handful of spiteful contrarians who try to stand out above the rest, proclaiming those names as rites of passage that only a few can achieve by midnight screenings of the first Star Wars movie and the ownership of thousands of dollars worth of action figures. It is human nature to want to be a part of a community and while this isn’t inherently wrong, certain attitudes can arise that make the community of geeky people guilty of the same occurrences that they have been victim of in the past.

Nothing will bring a group of people together faster than having a common enemy, to be different from them by being us. Call a fan of werewolves a “Furry” and some would take it as if a person with darker skin tone was called the “N” word, and some fans of My Little Pony will proclaim from the highest peak that they are not ” one of those Bronies”. When I was an event coordinator for a game store, I purposely sought out groups of people that were unique and interesting to run events and hang out at my store. When a group of Furries asked to have a meet up every Wednesday, I was happy to provide for them. Wednesday became one of the store’s busiest nights, but none of the regulars would show up. The line had been drawn the Furries were too different from the usual Role-Playing Game and League of Legends playing customers, even though they played exactly the same games. The hypocrisy that they wore animal ears and tails and that’s weird, but I can’t wait to cosplay as a Resident Evil character at Comic-Con and that’s ok, caused the atmosphere of the store to become toxic. Now, years after I left the store, if I run into an old customer, they will proclaim that the Furries ruined the store, which lead to its downfall of quality. It was my own people, the role-playing, comic book andd Star Wars loving Nerds that lead to the decline. They, who were made fun of and beaten up in school for being different, acted the same way as their transgressors did in disliking another group because they were different. My people were no different from those people.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a localized event. I constantly hear complaints about women going to conventions and dressing up, only to be chastised for not being a “real nerd.” Go to San Diego Comic-Con and people will be talking about how Hollywood has taken over the show and it’s not for the real comic fans any more. What was once exclusive and unique is becoming a melting pot of people and interests. With a mainstream sitcom about four nerds and their hot female neighbor becoming what people can relate to our kind with, and major blockbuster movies being based off of comic books that even your mom has seen, being a person with hidden interests is becoming hip and easily accessible. While I have interests and hobbies that are considered “nerdy”, most people have things that they do or like at the same level, but they are more common. My parents were nerds for Jesus Christ and attended his convention every Sunday and other non-geeky friends would calculate the best team in Fantasy Football every year that would put my twelfth level Half-Orc Barbarian to min-maxing shame.

Perhaps the main problem for us Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks, is that we really are not different from everyone else and our reliance on being different might lead to our downfall. Every one of us wants to feel like we belong and find others that share our interests and no matter what label you put on yourself, it is exactly the same as every other fan or social group. Labels are just one dimensional descriptions for three dimensional people and no obsession should be given to them, because our obsession should be taken up by our beloved comic books, movies, and video games.