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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

geek not Geek

For most of my life I think it's pretty fair to say that most people would identify me as a geek or nerd. I grew up in Silicon Valley and also lived there as an adult. As a child my dad taught me how to program in BASIC on a Commodore 64. As a teenager I put together computer (from kits, admittedly) and repaired homemade lab equipment for the undergrad physics labs. I have a Ph.D. in a scientific field from one of the ubergeeky schools, and completely blended in there. Indeed, by chemistry standards I probably am more geeky than average. As an adult I have spent my professional career working with other scientists, engineers, and programmers. Heck, I even called my other blog "Recipe Geek" before I merged it back into here. The main thing that I have learned from my experience as a geek is that they come in all types, ages, occupations, genders, colors, etc. It's more a state of mind than a set checklist of traits.
With the arrival the internet, blogs, and Facebook, I have been inundated with references to Geek culture and what it is and isn't. Suddenly I am not a Geek, for I have only an average level of reverance for Star Wars and Star Trek, and am not into computer games or making fun of people who aren't that smart. I'm not a rabid atheist and even if I was you wouldn't hear about it on Facebook, and, most importantly, I hate the sexism and privilege prevalent on so many Geek sites. (Sorry, Fark, I'm talking to you, amoungst others.) Rather than being a general term used to refer to smart people in various fields who may be somewhat socially awkward, or may just be really into something, it's now seemingly used to a much smaller subset of people who are into computers and electronic gadgets, spend lot of time on the internet, and subscribe to a certain worldview.
Why does it matter to me? I'm not the geek squad police, to say the least. At the end of the day, though, I see a certain stereotype developing, and I don't like it because it's not me, and I don't want people to assume that it is.

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