Too ‘Normal’ to Geek?

Raise your hand if you ever experienced the following: You meet new people and eventually the conversation turns towards your hobbies and free-time activities. So you tell everyone, proudly, your geeky passion when you see that look in the other person’s eye. A look most of us, one way or another, received at least once. That look that says ‘omg who could spend so much time and money on such a childish thing’. Sure, these days comic adaptations make millions at the box office and geeky passions become slowly more accepting. However, it is one thing to go and see a geeky movie and another to spend a great portion of one’s time and money on geeky passions.

At last, mine!

At last, mine!

Usually, we tend to ignore these encounters and feel grateful for our geeky communities. In the last few months, however, I had several encounters where fellow geeks rejected me among them for looking ‘not geeky enough’. Last weekend, I’ve bought a replica of Severus Snape’s wand in a geeky store and as I was at the counter, proudly paying for my new precious, the cashier asked me whether this’ll be the first wand I’ll buy as a present. This seemingly innocent question assumed that I a) usually don’t deal with geeky stuff and b) would never buy something like a wand for myself. It’s actually not the first time I’ve entered a geeky store or comic book store and was asked if I need any assistance/ advice on finding a present. While I’m grateful for the service, I cannot help but feel odd. Personally, I don’t wear geeky t-shirts or other geeky accessories anymore. I stopped doing that after people constantly mistook me for being much, much younger. I could stand next to my two best friends (who are as old as I am), who were wearing geeky clothing as well and would always been mistaken for several years younger. Even in my mid-twenties some people mistook me for being a teen. Often, these very same people belittled me so eventually, I began to dress more neutral if not elegant to be taken serious. Now, it seems, I reached a point in my appearance that I need to defend my geekyness.

I AM an adult, I swear!

I AM an adult, I swear!

A few months ago, my two best friends and I were in a Lego store when we met a fellow geek and that said geek began to talk about the vampire mockumentary ‘What we do in the shadows’ by Taika Waititi. I was excited to find out that someone else not only knew who Taika Waititi was, but seemed to love his new movie. I love Taika’s work for a few years now and even introduced my friends to Taika’s latest work. Prior to that they didn’t knew who he was and apart from that new movie, whom they haven’t seen at that time yet, they knew nothing about Taika at all. Yet, despite all this, and me uncontrollably babbling about the awesomeness of the movie (seriously, it is amazing!), that other girl, a total stranger to the three of us, ignored me and everything I said and talked exclusively to my friends. I could sense how uncomfortable she felt having this ‘girly girl’ trying to get herself involved in that geeky conversation. Once again, I was dressed rather elegantly while my friends were, one way or another, wearing geeky shirts or accessories. Sure, now you’ll probably think that this is an unlucky co-incidence for me to meet a shallow geek. However, another friend of mine, also dressed not-geeky, has these encounters where other geeks either ignore her, look down on her for looking ‘girlish’, or are (pleasantly) shocked to find out that she is a geek.

We tend to think that fellow geeks might be more accepting, but based on my experience I have to disagree (‘fake geek girl’- stigma, anyone??). Do male geeks experience this too? I’m very curious to know if this is an universal shallowness or attached to gender and/or clothing. Has anyone else experienced something similar? Please leave a comment down below!

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5 thoughts on “Too ‘Normal’ to Geek?

  1. Lily says:

    My most recent experience was after a meeting of my local Tolkien Society. I started talking with a guy who was at the bookshop where the meetings are held (but he wasn’t a part of the Tolkien group).

    As the conversation was winding down, I called myself a geek about something, and he said, “Oh, no one would could ever call you a geek.” I could tell he meant it in a nice way, truly. Or maybe it was that the geeky tee I was wearing was pink. But he seemed to say it as a compliment.

    Also, I feel like there’s a certain level of geekiness that is acceptable. You can enjoy superhero movies, but you can’t know the names of any characters who aren’t in the films. And writing for a Tolkien website? Yeah, you’ve gone too far! 😛

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  2. gekitsu says:

    interesting subject. i’ve grown a bit disillusioned with the idea that outcast subcultures are necessarily more open and welcoming. maybe they are when they can’t afford not to be, but just look at that ongoing debacle in video gaming. for all it’s worth, video gaming has “won.” i remember dreaming of a world where games were seen as a legitimate thing to like. nowadays, everybody plays games, and what we have is people (the self-professed old guard, not least!) fighting tooth, nail, and vitriol for staying as insular, hateful, and unwelcoming as possible. out with the pretenders and wannabes!

    that said, i can’t provide you with a good example for fake geek guy syndrome, and it’s disheartening in a way. i certainly don’t lack reasons to experience facing it. you’re in your late twenties, right? for all intents and purposes, i’m pretty much your age, male, and not dressed in an obviously geeky manner either. (i value my very aristocratic basement tan, though!) my only obviously geeky accessoire is a small rubber pokémon tag on my bag. (next to a japanese agemaki knot and a pseudo-runic non-symbol that should net me much more ire than it does, here in germany) i wear plain black pretty much exclusively, but apparently not enough that i’d be recognised as goth either. it might be that despite not being obviously identifyable as belonging to either of the two “big” subcultures i’d identify with, i still look “offbeat” enough that people are not surprised by, or even unable to grasp the existence of my geeky interests.

    caveat: i am really really bad at picking up the subtext of people. but what we are discussing here is far from subtext, this was spoken plainly to your face, after all. (or … deliberately not to your face)

    weirdly enough, i was taken aback by having an entire room of students erupt into a tangential, but vigorous discussion about some specific points of the hobbit films when i taught a philosophy class last semester. this spanned casually-respectable looking m.ed.-students (lehramtler), that girl with the changing hair colour and the METAL IS RELIGION shirt, a somewhat spaced-out yoga enthusiast, a young guy with rolled collar who could recite a c.g. jung quote for every occasion and a +60 year old former anaesthesiologist. and no-one (except me) seemed surprised that everyone had this in-depth knowledge and willingness to discuss the point. it wasn’t even handled like humorous or weird matter! if anything, i’d think the borders between geek and non-geek are more blurred than ever. “fake geek girls” or a general defensiveness of “our turf” even being a thing seems highly absurd.

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  3. Alice says:

    I keep hearing from my mom and my friends that my passions are childish every single day of my life, I don’t wear geeky clothes, because you can’t find them here in Italy (unless you want to spend tons of money, because Marvel and Disney stuff is very expensive). At the same time, some of my male friends tell me I’m a fake nerd (again, the word ‘geek’ doesn’t exist here), because I don’t read comics.

    I arrived at the point to hide the One Ring under my T-shirt when I went to see the Hobbit movies, because I was so damn tired to be observed by people just because I was wearing a geeky necklace.

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  4. Frodo says:

    I don’t wear geeky t-shirts because I don’t own any. But I would wear them if I had some. But I am wearing the Samuelt from Supernatural or the Evening Star from time to time.
    I think I would be a fake geek girl when it comes to the Marvel and DC because I don’t really read comics. When I was younger I read some but now I am prefering books. But I love the movies and Tv-shows and obsess about everything that belongs to it.
    So I think this fake geek it stupid. If a person is proud of being a geek/nerd/other name than it doesn’t matter what other people think.

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  5. jlawsonn says:

    I know the feeling I do have geeky clothes lots of tees and such but during the week I don’t wear them much as I have a career which requires me to dress professionally, I don’t have the issue at stores as there are only two I go to and they know me at both but I have had the issue with fellow geeks..I hate the term fake geek girl although I am aware they exist it is assumed that if you are attractive you are faking your neediness . I have read comics all my life I count down to movie releases I watch like +20 ongoing tv series most of which are comic or scifi based i have collectables and completed 14 years of post secondary education in 7. In my opinion all of that outways my fashion sense or appearance in terms of evaluating geekiness. I think it’s completely unfair for a group of people who even though times have changed have historically been treated poorly and judged to do the same to those they think are “faking”(without any proof especially) in completely hypocritical.

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