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Why We Should Hate Geeks

By eskimo in Op-Ed
Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 06:09:26 AM EST
Tags: Kuro5hin.org (all tags)

'The Man' has left us on auto-pilot, and all systems are running smoothly. We are even self-labelling.

Sponsor: rusty
This space intentionally left blank
...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
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I am tired of fighting this battle from post to post, hoping they get moderated up enough for people to see what I am talking about. We live in a fractured culture. That is a fact of life. I can't argue with that. We are alike in some ways, different in others, and those differences and similarities result in the groups we find ourselves in. It is how people look at each other. And more often than not, it is sad. Labelling is a convenient and pernicious tool mankind uses, extending pattern recognition to new levels. It is bad enough when people place other people into groups. It is an excuse for bigotry and hatred. But there are plenty of groups out there that choose to label themselves. That is even worse. It is exactly the same form of exclusion, but on a more massive scale. It goes from 'I am not like them,' to 'they are not like us.'

Gang, it is the 'us' we have to worry about. 'Us' is a crap word, and 'us' begat 'geek.' There is a story currently in the queue that asks what kind of things I drink. Last week it was what music I listened to. My gut reaction to both was that I hope the marketing boys at Miller Brewing are listening up, because the first beer commercial that has Natalie Portman will garner revenues the world hasn't yet dreamt of. And TMBG, thanks guys. Thanks for everything!

So many of you dance so closely to the point that I am trying to make, and you never get it. Over the past month, we have talked about giving ourselves a voice, and fighting the man, and what would happen if our community got diluted with /. immigrants. Well, I would argue that we are not a community if we are all just 'geeks.' We are a demographic. Well I don't want to be a demographic, and I don't want to be a geek. I want to be a guy who likes different things, and hates different things, and may or may not argue with you because you like or hate different things. If I have to take on a whole wannabe demographic every other story, then we have all lost. A community is only such if there is sufficient diversity. Without that, we most certainly will become just another Natalie Portman fan site. Instead of 'geeks,' perhaps the name 'locust' is more applicable, considering the lineage of destroyed forums left in our wake.

I understand that as a group, many of us lived our formative years in the 'I am not like them' mode. The easiest response is to turn from 'me' to 'us.' But to celebrate our sameness (and there is a lot of overlap) under the banner of 'geeks' is doing their work for them. We turn diamonds into marbles, smooth and easily categorized. And I don't mean diamonds in some sort of feel-good way. I just mean that they are multi-faceted. We nurture the stereotype, and then we present it for all to see. You know what though? I'm STILL not like them.

I encourage every one of you to shirk the geek name. I encourage every one of you to confound every stereotype you think people apply to you. It is fun, and it is easy, and in the long run, if we are a community, we will thrive because of it. If you do their work for them, you are only allowing them to close their minds even further. Yours too.


Voxel dot net
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I am
o a geek 32%
o You don't know me. You just think you do. 54%
o not into polls 13%

Votes: 196
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by eskimo

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Why We Should Hate Geeks | 94 comments (80 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Feeling reflective? (3.11 / 9) (#1)
by CheSera on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:14:04 PM EST

What is up with all these Geek questions lately? Can we only talk about ourselves? So far we've covered the superiority of geeks, whether or not they drink, and if so what, and finally now why we should hate ourselves/our chosen name. Sheesh. I'm voting this down just because I'm tired of the word Geek in article's headlines.


you shouldn't (2.00 / 4) (#3)
by titus-g on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:19:18 PM EST

'geek' is irrelevant to the article, just a bad title :)

I think this _is_ about ourselves, and the avoidence of posh pigeons and the places they hang out.

then I might be wrong...

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

Posh Pidgeon? (2.00 / 4) (#16)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:26:36 PM EST

I think you are right, but I don't know what a posh pidgeon is. I AM NOT saying we should hate ourselves! That is kind of the point of the title and the piece. If I say we should hate geeks and the conclusion is somebody should hate themself, then they have successfully labelled themself.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

A posh pigeon (1.50 / 2) (#58)
by titus-g on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:10:04 PM EST

would be a dove.

actually I should have said working class dove, which would have been pigeon and made more sense.

Should probably take into account that last night I was suffering from the effects of 5 litres of lager. And as usual today I am wondering how big a backhander it would take to persuade rusty to do a DELETE FROM comments WHERE username = 'titus-g';

anyone done the 'We're all individials, WE'RE ALL INDIVIDUALS, I'm not' quote yet?

--"Essentially madness is like charity, it begins at home" --
[ Parent ]

yeah, and... (3.00 / 7) (#4)
by rusty on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:20:33 PM EST

People keep saying I'm a geek, but I've never bitten the head off a chicken in my life! I don't know where they get this idea. Weird.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Really? (3.33 / 3) (#44)
by fluffy grue on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:23:01 AM EST

So you've never eaten McDonald's chicken wings, then?
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Yup. (3.93 / 15) (#5)
by Zarniwoop on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:21:24 PM EST

No one speaks for me except me.

We are all different. We have some similarities, but we are NOT all alike. We are left wing, right wing, social, anti-social, punks, jazz fans, partyers, people who would never be caught at a party, musicians, sports players, philosophers, people who think philosophy is bollocks, etc etc etc...


Thank God. I'd hate to see millions of people far too similar to me :)

I really cringe when I see "We don't like _whatever subject_" in someone's comments. I am not like people who have decided to speak for the 'community', and they are not like me. Just like not all artists are alike, and not all 'jocks' are big dumb hulks. As much as Katz tries to say otherwise, 'geek' culture cannot be profiled, because we truly are not alike in so many ways. We are individuals. We are diverse.

Good thing, too- groupthink gets old *really* quick.

Um... (3.25 / 4) (#42)
by pb on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 03:05:24 AM EST

I'm not!

"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Bad Claim. (2.44 / 9) (#6)
by Dolgan on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:21:46 PM EST

I'm going to vote "1" on this because of the discussion it's going to generate, but I'd like to point something out in regards to:
"... the first beer commercial that has Natalie Portman will garner revenues the world hasn't yet dreamt of."

Natalie would never sell out for a commercial of any kind, much less a beer commercial.

But overall, I think this is a very interesting topic, if a bit of a weak write-up. I personally won't comment on it further, however, as I (myself) have little interest in the concept of 'geekiness.' I don't support stereotypes, grouping or titles such as these.

oh, natalie (1.50 / 4) (#19)
by vsync on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:38:49 PM EST

Natalie would never sell out for a commercial of any kind, much less a beer commercial.

Ah, such childlike faith.

But it's all about JILL HENNESSY!

"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]

Really. (2.75 / 4) (#20)
by Dolgan on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:43:34 PM EST

I'd like to risk a 1.00 to inform you of the following:

1) Jill Hennessy is inferior to Natalie, just like all the other gir^H^H^Hliving things on this planet are.
2) Natalie is way smarter and prettier than Jill Hennessy.
3) It's not "childlike faith," but rather "fact," when one states that Natalie would never sell out for a commercial of any kind, much less a beer commercial.
In short, Natalie rocks and Jill, well, Jill just sucks. :P

I won't continue this thread past this point on kuro5hin. I promise!

[ Parent ]

Label me. (3.14 / 7) (#9)
by driph on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:32:49 PM EST

I understand what you are saying, although I don't agree with it. What good does it really do?

Ya know, I don't mind being labelled. Hell, if that means someone in marketing can figure out just what it is I'd love to buy, more power to em. I don't care if they know what I like to eat, where I go shopping, my musical tastes, and which pair of boxers I own is my personal favorite.

I do what I do. If I fall into someone's category, so be it.

I don't abhor corporations(tho I can't stand bureaucracy). I don't hate focus groups. They are simply doing what all of us do every day, on a larger and more organized level. You want something from someone, you try to appease them. Find out what they want in return. What's wrong with that?

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
My Point (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:36:25 PM EST

My point is that I don't think k5 should be an expression of the demographic. It should be an expression of the community. And if the computer doesn't have its butchers and bakers and candlestick makers, it is going to get pretty boring pretty fast.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

grr... (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 09:34:04 PM EST

computer should be read as community... i hate when i do that.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

I'll be damned. (2.70 / 10) (#14)
by simmons75 on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 07:43:00 PM EST

So you're telling me that if I allow myself to be called a geek that I'm simply being closed minded. My preference==bad, your preference==good, eh?

I'm a geek. I prefer to be called that, dammit. Get over it.
So there.

Question (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:38:32 PM EST

Is k5 part of the 'geek' community, or is the 'geek' community part of k5?

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

both and neither... (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by joeyo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:07:14 PM EST

Ah nothing like a rhetorical question. And one with internal symmetry to boot! You can read the subject for my rhetorical answer, but to elaborate for a moment....

K5 is part of the geek community. As a webpage it is place where geeks hang-out and as such is part of the geek community.

Likewise, the geek community is part of k5. It could be a big part, it could be a small part. I don't know. But I suspect it's a largish part.

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

I'm gonna have to disagree ... (3.90 / 11) (#21)
by Arkady on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 08:55:11 PM EST

... with the poster and with Rusty's hatred of the "geek" label. Though it is horribly abused by Jon Katz, his ilk and the wider media, it has a history and a value.

"geek" was brought into use, not by those to whom it was applied, but from the outside as a term of derrogation. Much as homosexuals have attempted to take over the connotation of "queer", those to whom it has been applied have tried to take over the connotations of the term "geek". This isn't a bad thing.

Tribalism is a very deeply rooted human behavior, and seems to develop naturally in the absence of social influences. Though this can be seriously dangerous, as "The Lord of the Flies" and every news story about America's "gang problem" want to tell us, it seems to also be a necessary function of human group dynamics. People want to associate and identify with a group; it's how we are.

"geek" is a self-identified, extremely diverse, tribe. It, like "hacker" makes no distinctions based on uncontrollable (in-born) attributes, like skin color. It is no longer foisted on geeks as an insult, as it's connotations have largely been shifted to the positive, at least in my experience. It is beginning to be abused a demographic targetting tool, as Rusty points out, but if we changed things every time a marketer heard about a term, we'd never have time to do anything else.

I don't generally identify myself as a geek, though when someone without the knowledge to understand in any real detail what I do for a living I do tell them I'm a "freelance computer geek". It's easier to use a broader classiication like than than to try to explain that I do custom software programming and network/system design and admin; these words don't mean anything to them.

So, let them call themselves "geek"; it's fine provided that they:

a)   use "geek" as definition of an us _without_ reference to a them; this style of tribal definition is necessary to minimize conflicts between groups

b)   don't try to tell folks who don't identify themselves that way that they are "geek"; that's just annoying

Any group definition that meets these two criteria is fine; it will not intrinsically generate conflict with other groups.

Leave it at that; telling someone that they can't call themselves "geek" is just as obnoxious as telling them they must.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Flaunt yer fancy thinkin' and such... (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 09:12:14 PM EST

I didn't tell anybody exactly. I exhorted. I was rude I guess. Not too rude.

I think in responses to posts, my new mantra is going to be, 'is the k5 community part of the geek community, or vice versa.' I really wish I said it in the story. Hell, I wish it was the story.

But a couple hours of discussion led me there, so posting this has already been useful to me.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

heh (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by Arkady on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 09:26:05 PM EST

Sorry I gave you impression that I was accusing you of bossing folks around. You're right that your article is more an exhortation to drop the term which, as I do think there is a community here, is a completely reasonable way to approach it: tell the community that you don't like the way it's self-identifying.

I was aiming for contrast, I suppose, between what I see as the positive and negative forms of group identification. I wanted to stress that this identification seems to be a natural and important part of being human.

If you've seen your prior opinions in a new light and thought about them as they relate to others', then the discussion here has done what it's supposed to. Whether you agree with anyone else here or not, if you think then you are welcome. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
antipathy/sympathy (3.83 / 6) (#26)
by chesire on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 09:35:05 PM EST

"I may not agree with what you say but I will defend, to the death, your right to say it" --dont rmemeber

I think the problem you are refering too, is not just confined to just geek's, red-kneck', hippie's, etc. I think this rant says something more sinister about humans in general. Now I'll be the first person to say I'm not perfect, but I do belive that we all have a long way to go towards recognizeing each others equality. In a more explosive reference I would refer you too the sceen in the Baltic states or the Middle East. Mostly what I think it boils down too is tollerance.

I belive the political corect terms:"African-American";"Asian-American";"Hispanic-American";"etc-American".... help to continue the mental segragation that seems to permiate the foundation of America. Now, one of America's greatest strength's and one of America's greatest weaknes'is its diversity. We bring so many ideas and experiences to the collective table but then we also have alot of people who feel that thier ideas and experiences should have a voice over anybody eles'.

We all have one voice, America's voice, not just an "African-American" or "Asian-American" or "Hispanic-American" voice. That's the idea behind Democracy. Not nessesarly the political system we have in effect now, but an ideal Utopia where everybody share's a voice.

but i digress,

just some food for thought.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." --Schopenhour

I believe that was (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by cronio on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 12:00:21 AM EST

Voltaire. Correct me if I'm wrong.

[ Parent ]
Yes, Voltaire (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by sugarman on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 11:21:53 AM EST

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.

[ Parent ]

Marge said it best: (4.00 / 6) (#27)
by Hillgiant on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:00:09 PM EST

Remeber: you are a unique individual, just like everyone else.

Actually I agree that the JonKatzian amalgamation of `geek' culture is pretty disgusting. It can be rather cliqueish at times. On the other hand, I find that there are certian aspects of the kind of culture I have found here on K5 that resonate with me. These are aspects of my personality that existed long before I became obsessed with computers. Lego, TMBG (I loved them from the first listen), science fiction, books in general. I don't need to be a `geek' to enjoy them. Also, there are staples to `geek' culture that I do not get. Quake 3 and Babylon 5 spring most readily to mind.

I have always considered myself a nerd. Persuit of knowledge rules over all other persuits. An element of K5 resonates with this persuit, so here I am.

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny

Well put, but one thing... (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by eskimo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:45:00 PM EST

I am probably not that special. But I am special enough to let somebody else label me. My concern is that we pidgeon hole ourselves.

I tried to emphasize in the first paragraph that we were all different and similar in a lot of different ways, and that it is inevitable that we become associated with groups. My point is that I don't associate with any particular group. Instead, I prefer causes. Like you said, knowledge supercedes just about any other pursuit.

If somebody else determines I am a geek, then fine. I'm just not going to put together the corners of their puzzle.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Marge said it best: (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by sinclair on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:10:36 PM EST

Remeber: you are a unique individual, just like everyone else.
<MP> "I'm not!" </MP>
Also, there are staples to `geek' culture that I do not get. Quake 3 and Babylon 5 spring most readily to mind.

I hear ya! While I love Babylon 5, I've only played Quake 3 once with friends, have never "gamed", and Star Wars to me is a series of badly-acted movies with a clichéd plot. I've invested more time in fooling with computers over the past 15 years than I care to count, and well, I am socially inept, but as a result of the above, I don't fit into the so-called geek culture that's ascendant these days.

[ Parent ]

Self segregation (3.62 / 8) (#29)
by mami on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:12:29 PM EST

Menkind is going to self-segregate into groups which they thereafter happily stereotype for the benefit of having found a "home group" in which they feel understood, secure, superior.

It's innate, in the genes so to speak. You can't do anything about it. I am tired of it. I allow myself to be tired of it after a life of fighting it. You are young, so go ahead and try.

Hrm. (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by simmons75 on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 09:39:44 AM EST

I really don't see this as a new development. It sounds like you're talking about class systems.
So there.

[ Parent ]
hmmmmmmm (2.00 / 7) (#30)
by jbridge21 on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:14:10 PM EST

I am a geek, I am not a geek, I am a nerd, I am not a nerd...

... I don't really give a damn. Labels mean very little to me.

I don't even know quite which words others would use to describe me......

I see what you are saying, but... (4.00 / 7) (#33)
by joeyo on Fri Dec 01, 2000 at 10:51:27 PM EST

Man, I feel you. Labeling people can be an ugly thing to do, and it has aided many people with evil intentions in years past and present. But I don't think we are in the dire straits that you imagine we are.

For starters, geek is (I hope) a self-referential title. Some of us may have been called geeks by others since we were young. I think I was when I was in elementary school, but I haven't been called a geek by a 'non-geek' in many years, and I suspect the same is true for many of us. People categorize. We seek order, we seek patterns. It's what we do best. Further, we need to belong. I see nothing wrong with belonging under the geek banner.

You seem to be concerned about us being a community and not a deomgraphic. Well, one can easily be both. I am a male, I am white, and I have myopia. All of which are demographic data. But these three things describe me well and are (largely) out of my control. Should I deny myself my whiteness, my maleness or my blindness?

I would further contest that being a geek is quite a bit like this; there are likely some genes which contribute to a mix of physical, mental and emotional dispositions which we call geeky-ness. It describes me well and I am not ashamed.

In closing I want to say that I think we are on the verge of the Age of Geeks. (If I'm sounding a little like JonKatz here, please forgive. I swear I've had him blocked on /. for the past two years). Many of the things which I like, or like to do (and by extension, geeks like to do) are becoming mainstream rapidly. Brief example: cellphones and all sorts of electronic gadgets are everywhere and socially accecpted. And Honestly, I'm not sure if I fully understand why. :)

So I say revel in your geeky-ness, for we have changed the world!

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

Confounding the stereotype (2.71 / 7) (#37)
by Toojays on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 12:19:23 AM EST

Personally I prefer to smash the geek stereotype whilst still calling myself a geek. I remember once telling a girl I was a geek and having her say something along the lines of "You shouldn't put yourself down like that." I tried explaining to her that "geek" was only a putdown as long as she thought it had bad connotations, but she just didn't get it. Actually, it's usually easier to reeducate people on the hacker/cracker distinction than it is to explain that being a geek isn't a bad thing.

What are you talking about? (4.20 / 10) (#38)
by jabber on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 12:19:26 AM EST

I don't know whether to agree with you, and share the same opinion - thereby being a part of one group, or assert my individuality, disagree with you and become part of another group.

Should I not wear worn jeans tomorrow, for fear of being thought a member of generation X, or avoid having a Pepsi - so nobody would think that I bought into the Choice of a New Generation?

Maybe I should just turn my back on technology and society, and move off to a remote woodland cabin. Wait, that would make me alomost like Ted Kaczynski... Aaargh!

Frankly, I don't think that you give people - geeks or otherwise - enough credit. Sure, many are sheeple, but then what choice do they have? Even if we were not limited by the retailers in our area, we would still all have to weave our own cloth, and be definable as a 'group' in one way or another.

Even in a nation, or world, of distinct individuals, lines can still be drawn around sets which share similar characteristics. Many of these characteristics will be voluntarily assumed by the individuals (we're all computer literate by choice, does that make us all mindless poseur sheep?) based on their own sense of aesthetics - an involuntary or environmentally imposed similarity in itself.

It's all good and fine to question people's willingness to follow the crowd - but remember that you are a member of a group of people who all make the same argument.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Similarities Are Inevitable... (2.00 / 2) (#61)
by eskimo on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 03:45:03 PM EST

It seems to me that I repeatedly emphasize that there are inevitably going to be similarities between people. They are more likely than differences. The point is that by highlighting the similarities we have, we also highlight our differences with other groups. Needlessly. We also exclude potentially interesting people who do not share our core values and tastes.

The argument remains: There is no Geek Community. A community is a collection of unique individuals, with varied interests and skill sets. They function together, intentionally or not, to exchange goods and services, and in the case of k5, information. If we become labeled as another Geek Collective, we will only attract more geeks. But I'll have moved on by then.

I can put it into Star Trek for you, but only basic Star Trek, because I think on the whole, TNG sucked. Look at the Enterprise. It was a happy ship, with tons of people who did all kinds of different things, and they had to fight the Borg, which had tons of people that were all the same except where the laser pointer was attached. I certainly don't care who wins. I think Kirk would eat Piccard's lunch 10 out of 10 times. My point is, which would you rather had a syndicated series? Borg: TNG sounds not so exciting to me.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

I am unique... (3.42 / 7) (#39)
by cbatt on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 12:45:15 AM EST

just like everyone else!

There is great wisdom in that saying.

Labeling, demographics, etc... are natural occurences in large populations. Especially when the populations are fully of generally self-aware individuals. It's all about the need to simplify, unless complexity is needed, because there is just so much information coming in from all angles

Think of it as a zip file for societies

However, I do see the point the author is trying to make. When you over generalize, you run into certain problems such as the tendancy for isolated groups to form insular, bigotted attitudes towards others. This destroys a group's ability to grow beyond it's capabilites due to over homogenization.

It's like creating clones. Introduce a virus into a homogeneous environment and it wipes out everything in that environment. There is robustness in diversity.

But I do see the need and desire to form bonds with others who think/feel the same way about things. It's a really good feeling to get on a great discussion between two like minded individuals. It's inspiring sometimes. Therefore the desire for like minded individuals to congregate and to seek other like minded individuals with which to share this experience.

Deffinately a tricky issue.

One of the things I like about k5 is that it has a lot more tolerance for diversity than some other msg. boards. I'd personally like to see that continue.

Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

Re: I am unique... (1.25 / 4) (#40)
by skim123 on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:04:11 AM EST

I am unique...

No you're not! You're just like me.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
reactionary to labelling (4.20 / 10) (#41)
by tokage on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:20:27 AM EST

Yes, labels exist in the world. Yes, the often cast the person under them in an unflattering light. This is simply the way it is. In my opinion, the problem with labels is the way people allow the label to affect them, not with the label itself. It's obvious that each person is different. Unique, but not necessarily special, to get a bit Bill Hicks-ish. Being put into a demograph is just an advertising deal. Advertising companies I despise, and am amused by. We're running around making money off each other, selling each other things we don't really need, and creating a lot of noise/headaches in the process. As far as not wanting to be a stereotype, face it, we're all stereotypes to each other. How do you individually classify someone as being unique whom you've never met? This is why labels were created, to group people with similiar interests, or some other unifying factor into something which, by using the label in question, succinctly explains what the person is interested in, or whatever the case is. I have no problem with what label or stereotype is applied to me, because it is just that persons opinion of who I am. Trying to "confound every stereotype" in an attempt not to fit in, is in my definition a way of fitting in. Individuality through apathy, and all that. This article is also self-contradictory, it contains numerous references(natalie portman/miller light, TMBG, etc) which are part of the 'geek' stereotype.

I think reacting or placing a significance on a label/steroetype is asking to be offended. I think in part the reason for our propensity for political correctness is caused by people reacting so harshly to labels. If you want to be offended, there are millions of things you can find to offend you. IMO, it'd be easier just to not let it affect you so easily, let it go, realize that no one can define what kind of person you are, except for yourself. If people stopped being so easily offended by labels, speaking would be easier, you wouldn't always have to worry about offending someone. I think you should look at the intent behind the label/stereotypical statement. If the intent was to hurt or offend, then being upset is a healthy reaction.

Anyway, that's all we are to the consumer world at large, demographics to be mapped and advertised to. If you don't like it, consider the people who can't go to Radio Shack and buy the newest game, or shop in the mall, or eat daily. There's something to get offended over. Get angry at the nameless, faceless corporate entities who will rape a people's environment solely because it's more cost effective to not setup adequate safeguards from their actions. (see http://www.texacoamazon.com/) Get angry over men who beat women, their kids. If you want to be offended, be offended at absurd things like nuclear proliferation by India and Pakistan, and other countries, that destruction of the planet can be caused by men following a guideline of how they should act. In short, be angry over real issues, problems which go beyond "that commercial offends me". People(me included) get caught up in trivial, meaningless disputes over things which have very little importance, and lose sight of the real problems in the world we should feel outrage over, and wish to change.

I always play / Russian roulette in my head / It's 17 black, or 29 red

We are the knights who say,... NEEK! (1.37 / 8) (#46)
by Paul_F on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 08:34:53 AM EST

We are no longer the knights who say NEEK. We are now the knights who say ....

Uhhhh. (2.00 / 1) (#68)
by Requiem on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:58:56 PM EST

Isn't it "Ni"?

[ Parent ]
Labels (3.40 / 5) (#47)
by lucas on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 09:10:24 AM EST

I think labels are instituted as a way to break down commonalities in a society such as ours which is designed to be pretty diverse.

Couple this with the fact that we have the best distribution system in the world. Companies can take their goods and plunk 'em anywhere there are pockets of common interest.

Go into any college town and watch television there. Jerry Springer is on three times a day. Lame Fox Specials and otherwise violent shows are constant. Bingo. College demographic.

Naturally, there is going to be some sort of resistance. No one likes to be boxed in, brought into the "geek" demographic or whatever. In marketing terms, I'm classified as being on the "borderline" between so-called "Gen X" and "Gen Y", whatever this means. My protest to these labels is that I ignore them and try not use them in common language.

It's all about language dynamics. Let the marketers have their terminology; we don't need to divide ourselves artificially by using the labels and bringing them into our vernacular.


Human nature (4.46 / 13) (#49)
by B'Trey on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 09:55:57 AM EST

Human beings are social animals. We like to belong. Belonging to a group gives us comfort; we feel accepted and safe and protected. If I know you are a geek, I know certain things about you. Yes, that means that companies can use that info to target ads. But it also means that we have a common foundation on which to build conversations or relationships.

Certainly, I'm a geek. I have four computers in this room, one of which is a Linux server running my network. I program in C/C++, Perl, and various scripting and batch languages. I create web pages. I build my own systems, as well as systems for pretty much everyone else I know that is planning on buying a computer. I get phone calls from half way across the country as "How do I do this on my computer?" Etc, etc, etc. None of this is unusual in here. A lot of you could probably "out-geek" me. But I am definitely a geek. But I'm not JUST a geek.

I'm a squid; a sailor - I've been in the US Navy for fifteen years. Specifically, I'm a Chief Petty Officer, a member of what is called "the most exclusive fraternity in the world."

I'm a wood worker. I have a full workshop in my garage. I make furniture for my self and to sell. I'm currently working on a custom built mahogany and walnut case which will house two computers (my normal machine and my server), a modified electronic A/B switch to allow me to use a single keyboard, mouse and monitor to access both systems, and my Cisco Catalyst 1900 switch. Expect a story and links to pics once I get it finished.

I ride a '78 Harley Davidson Electroglide. I also ride a Specialized Expedition FSR full-suspension mountain bike. If I'm not sitting in front of my computer, I'm likely to either be cruising the country roads on my motorcycle or tearing through the woods on my bicycle.

I play golf in the summer and bowl on leagues all year round. I read voraciously, and write (both fiction and non-fiction) almost as much as I read. I'm a card-carrying member of the Libertarian political party. Oh, and by the way, my grandson turned two months old a few days ago.

Am I a geek? Certainly I am, and not ashamed of it in the least. But that's not ALL I am. I'm a member of a lot of different groups. If you assume that one label tells everything there is to know about me, you're missing most of the picture.

You seem to be under the impression that groups are bad. The aren't. They're perfectly natural behavior and essential to the way humans function. Yes, they can be used to stereotype and contribute to bigotry and prejudice. They can also draw people together and give people a collective voice. They aren't good, or bad. They're human.

Fundemental Differences... (3.66 / 3) (#62)
by eskimo on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 04:11:46 PM EST

I was nuc machinist mate on a sub. A bubblehead. I remember playing Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genisis in the Goat Locker when we were in the shipyard. The thing is, Chief, I got out, so there are going to be some fundemental differences. First of all, I want to say that the first time I read your comment, you almost had me sold. If the solution to the problem is that I spend less time at k5 because it IS part of the geek collective, and not vice versa, and seek other forums to express my interests, then I guess there is no discussion. That is the easiest solution, I suppose.

But your post has one immense flaw. It assumes that I think that a label wholly describes you. I don't. My point is that if ten thousand people can't have discussions everyday without labelling ourselves, as anything but participants, than it might already be too late for k5.

I am not missing the picture. Instead, I am trying to maintain the picture, before we become yet another test pattern. I don't assume the label defines you. The problem is that OTHER PEOPLE assume the label defines you. If I thought the label defined you, as I mentioned in a previous post, I would already be gone.

Furthermore, I will accept that groups are natural. Actually, I think I accepted that in the first paragraph of the story. I have no problem with groups. k5 is a group. /. is a group. Hell, AOL is a group. But again, you miss the point. It's the labels that bug me. And it bugs me even more when a bunch of people label themselves. I'd like to think that what we have in common goes beyond hardware and software preferences, or even music or whatever. I want to be part of the group that thinks for itself,but wants to learn. And as long as they promise not to name themselves, anything but 'the k5 people' I will be a happy camper.

Congrats on your grandchild.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

RPM's, then and now (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by acceleriter on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 11:42:24 PM EST

I was nuc machinist mate on a sub. A bubblehead.

So you find yourself in the ironic position of playing with Linux, being off the boat, and still reading RPM's :).

This lame humor was brought to you by an ex NAV-ET coner (yet another label).

[ Parent ]
ahhhh enough of this (3.25 / 4) (#50)
by maketo on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 10:11:35 AM EST

Stop, please. Geeks are just overrated self-professed, yet not more better or worse than any other human on earth. Survival wise - they are the maladaptation. Thanks to the era of technology here, they are profitting. It is so easy to be a nobody and then tell yourself "I am not like _them_, I am a _smart geek_" and really believe it...
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
maladaptation? (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by sluncho on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:53:31 PM EST

Main Entry: ad·ap·ta·tion

2 : adjustment to environmental conditions: as a : adjustment of a sense organ to the intensity or quality of stimulation b : modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment

What do you mean by "survival wise" ? The ability to kill animals with your bare hands? The ability to survive in the jungle without using technology?

I don't need to do this - my environment is very urban, very technology oriented and tech skills are more valuable than hunting skills. I am very well adapted to this environment and so are the other geeks.

Do you really think that we should go back to living in the jungle?

[ Parent ]

no one is better at it than... (4.16 / 6) (#52)
by thedrumheadlady on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 12:22:47 PM EST

Ourselves. We willingly accept labels because they make some sort of general distinction as to who we are, what we enjoy, how we spend our time outside the walls of K5.

The only time that we really get angry about labels in when we perceive them to be inaccurate. Have you ever really gotten mad at someone for describing you to a T?..."yeah, I do like computers, I do like TMBG, but DONT LABEL ME, l0053r!" Somehow, I am doubting that. When we think that someone else' s label is inaccurate, we get incensed, often flaming them, inflicting some sort of real world equivalent, or worse. When we are labeled correctly, we call that person a good judge of character.

We expect others not to label us, but not really because we dont want to be labeled, but because we dont want to be labeled inaccurately. The whole concept of labeling has now been reduced to, when we say "label", a negative. If the label is positive, or accurate, we convienently ignore the fact that it is a label in light of the fact that is has stroked our ego in some way.

Its the way things work. No one can instantly know enough about you to make social interaction possible without first making some assumptions. We deal. The answer is not to vent our rage about being "misunderstood and categorized", but to have patience with people and explain to them who we, as individuals, are. This is a situation in which the "system", being human interaction processes, is too big to "fix", and the best way to go about it is to use it the best way you can, sometimes admitting losses.

As for the concept of labels being used to put us into marketing groups, it is really not that big a deal. I personally am not that bothered by the fact that I am in certain marketing groups, the worst of which being college male. Do you know how much crap that shoots at me? The answer there is to, as in most other situations, be discriminating. Dont go for crap, and at the same time, dont NOT go for something solely because it has been aimed at you. There are gems out there, you just have to be willing to sift through some garbage to get at them.

You Pick it. C'mon, admit it.
labels (4.25 / 4) (#54)
by kubalaa on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 01:30:11 PM EST

Have you ever really gotten mad at someone for describing you to a T?

No, because nobody has ever done it. I intentionally try and foster skills outside of my stereotype because it expands my horizons and keeps me from losing perspective. The problem with labels isn't necessarily that they are innacurate; in fact, they are often creepy in their accuracy. The problem is that a label highlights everything that's the same and diminishes the differences. It polishes down the individual to an easy-to-swallow formula. I really liked the author's diamonds-to-marbles analogy.

You use the words "we, as individuals," and I can't help but laugh. Remember Life of Brian:

Brian: You are all individuals!
The Crowd: We are all individuals!

Brian: You have to be different!
The Crowd: Yes, we are all different!
Small lonely voice: I'm not different!

Actually, that movie's got a lot to say about the issue of labeling ("Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?" "Fuck off! We're the People's Front of Judea."). Anyways, my point is that maybe you don't mind accurate labels, and they stroke your ego, but that is definitely not true of me. I am ME, nothing more or less, and yes, there are some times when it's okay if I get lumped into a marketing group or demographic for convenience, and I won't lie about whether I fit a stereotype, but that stereotype will never describe me accurately, and I'd never present myself as a stereotype because that's misleading, innacurate, and counter to my indiviuality.


[ Parent ]

I'm me. Not different. (4.66 / 3) (#60)
by thedrumheadlady on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:55:47 PM EST

The problem is that a label highlights everything that's the same and diminishes the differences.It polishes down the individual to an easy-to-swallow formula

Yeah, pretty much. Thats the idea. I was trying to make the point that society cannot function without such things. However much you or anyone else treasures the idea of their "individuality", person X doesnt give two craps about it. He wants to know enough about you to deal with you in a manner that he sees fit based on what he can learn about you in a glance, or 5 minutes of casual conversation. If you are someone with whom he thinks he can build a relationship, he will (hopefully) invest the time to do so. If not, he is going to leave you by the wayside and search for someone with whom he can better relate. And yes, there are going to be innacuracies, hasty judgements, etc. This is the consequence of not being able to know someone initmately in an immediate manner.

The problem here is that we are dealing with the assumption that underlies all of western culture: that to be an individual is one of the highest ideals that can be reached, that there is nothing as important as being an individual. Why? From where do we get this idea? Does anyone see the irony that we are fed this idea about individuality from birth? What we need to understand is that a much more important concept is being real. And if that means you are a fan of boy bands and mass-media, thats fine, as long as you have critically analyzed what you believe in, enjoy, and spend your time doing. As long as the reasoning behind what you do is sound, go for it. I have seen too many, however, fall to the plauge of "being different", that is, they are rebelling against social norms solely because they are the social norms. Thats crap, it is basically being anti-popular, because it is in its own fashion "cool". So what we have is a group doing what is essentially the same thing as those seeking "coolness" in pop-culture, but by opposite means. Same destination, different truck.

I'm an individual only as far as I am different from eveyone else. I would rather not rely on the "differentness" of everyone to be able to define myself. I am who and what I am, regardless of whether I am different than people, the same as people, and regardless of whether anyone knows that.

You Pick it. C'mon, admit it.
[ Parent ]
being different (3.00 / 2) (#69)
by kubalaa on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 06:17:27 PM EST

I definitely agree that "being different" can subsume individuality as much as anything else. As you say, it's humorous to you see legions of teens dying their hair, getting tatoos and belly button rings in the name of "being different"; they don't have the perspective to see that they are as much slaves to conformity as the adults they deride, just under a different banner.

I think the point is to sidestep the whole issue altogether; don't be a geek, don't be a rebel without a cause, be "real," as you say. And you're right, if being real means you take on attributes of geekdom, there's no reason to deny it. BUT, I don't believe anyone exactly fits a stereotype (if you do, maybe you need to broaden your horizons a bit), and to put yourself forward as a stereotype is just begging to be misunderstood. Since when is it your job to simplify yourself so that casual strangers can "understand" you? Do you base your interactions with people on how easily you can fit them into a stereotype? Misjudgements aren't a consequence of not knowing someone, they are a consequence of judging before you have enough information to do so.

As for why individuality is so highly praised, yes it is ironic that it is a cultural virtue. However, it's clear we can't let ourselves be ruled by nothing, no guiding principles; the important thing is to understand why we are ruled by the things we are. My question to you is what principle you would have replace individuality? Perhaps then we can properly debate individuality's relative merits.

I think we're not in total disagreement; my main point is that stereotypes have never done anything except mediate reality in a negative way; they stem from the same forces that send people to see Indian ruins at Disney World instead of India, keep them glued to the TV, or make them think they know everything after reading some pop science (as someone said elsewhere in this discussion). They are a necessary evil but should be discouraged whenever possible.

[ Parent ]

more on different/me (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by thedrumheadlady on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 08:49:26 PM EST

Since when is it your job to simplify yourself so that casual strangers can "understand"

I'm not saying it is, or I didnt mean to. I'm saying that we should not go out of our ways to make sure that people understand we are "different", to make sure that people understand us "as an individual". I am saying that we should be what we are and let people take us at that. If someone desires to know me better, I am entirely willing to open up to them and explain to them what I understand of myself. If not, thats fine. I dont feel the need to have everyone understand my emotions and little personality quirks. That just doesnt matter to me.

I agree with you, I dont think anyone fits a stereotype exactly, in fact, I think people fit stereotypes in one manner, and vary widely in most others. I dont think you should be putting yourself forward as a stereotype, just what you are. If someone stereotypes me, and that makes them happy, I can certianly handle that. Their perception of me has no bearing on who I am.

As for what I would have replace inividuality, I am not exactly sure. Truth maybe. I just had a conversation about truth, so it is on my mind. Really, I think that something such as "individuality" is the wrong direction to be going when looking for something upon which to base ones life. I would much more strongly support something that is oriented outside oneself, such as service, but by definition it would be rather complex to define oneself with something outside oneself.

As for stereotypes causing the worlds ills... I would say that they more often, in fact, many times daily, make life more simple and managable. We criticize the process of generalization, because, like many other things, we notice it only when it goes wrong. Like those who think that ALL skinheads are racist, or that ALL christians are right-wing Falwell lovers. We note the exceptions to the rule, and these become the "anecdotal evidence" upon which we base our beliefs. I am in no way condoning all that has come about because of what stereotypes have done, I am just re-asserting that I think they are a integral part of the human as a social animal.

You Pick it. C'mon, admit it.
[ Parent ]
dress codes (3.66 / 3) (#66)
by radar bunny on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:50:52 PM EST

This reminds me of highschool discussion about dress codes where the kids say they don't want a dress code becasue they want to dress different then they go out and dress like their friends.

Most people belong to some group, and most people don't care one way or another until that group starts to carry a negative sterotype. Then they go off on the "im me not a memeber of any group." When that happens they either try to rename the group (like from nerd to geek) or they fight like hell to make sure everyone knows they are not a memeber of that group. The irony of ironies is that you then get a group of people fighting against a certain label while proclaiming they are not a member of any group.

The last resort for some of these people is that they will actually change their lifestyles to avoid being labeled a part of the group. An example of this is that a few people have been known to switch from linux to *bsd because they go tired of being part of the "linux crowd". And before any flame wars start, i said a few and ment a few.

[ Parent ]
being different (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by kubalaa on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 06:30:59 PM EST

By the way, it seems a couple people misconstrued my comments about the value of fostering individual differences. I do recognize that holding up being different as a supreme ideal is as silly as 100% conformity.

When I say I intentionally try and reach outside of my stereotype, it is important to understand why. I'm not trying to deny my geekhood or avoid my association with geeks, but rather keep my perspective from being stuck within a single way of looking at things. The point being to relate to and understand as many viewpoints as possible. Because I'm a geek and spend a lot of time on computers, I think it's good to also get out and socialize and go clubbing or dancing. Not because I don't want to be associated with geeks, but so that I can relate to people who aren't geeks. Similarly, I do use both BSD and Linux, not because I hate being lumped with Linux lusers, but so I can learn objectively why each camp uses what it does.

That's why I advocate being different. The unifying theme of those who "be different" for its own sake is that they try to distance themselves from all stereotypes. I think one should rather try and associate oneself with all stereotypes, so you can related to people in all of them. If that means that some people have trouble nailing you down, or you challenge people to judge on the basis of something other than stereotypes, then all the better.

[ Parent ]

Facets? (3.00 / 1) (#72)
by Luke Scharf on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 10:18:11 PM EST

I am ME, nothing more or less, and yes, there are some times when it's okay if I get lumped into a marketing group or demographic for convenience, and I won't lie about whether I fit a stereotype, but that stereotype will never describe me accurately, and I'd never present myself as a stereotype because that's misleading, innacurate, and counter to my indiviuality.

I have no problem showing different facets of myself to different people. I often find it useful to show my the "wonder boy" xor my "geek who wants to learn" facet to people I'm working with. To the girl who I'm currently trying to get with, I expose "the man" and "that guy who needs a hug". There are lots of other roles that I play as circumstances require.

These facets are all part of me. They do not contradict each other, and they are all real and genuine expressions of my individual self.

The people who I've known for a long time (my true friends) have seen most of my factets. People outside of this group can stereotype me as much as they want, just so long as they accurately describe a subset of the real me.

[ Parent ]
K5's deterioration into Slashdot (3.16 / 6) (#53)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 01:11:07 PM EST

Fuck the whole "geek culture" qand "geek identity" thing. This is one of the things that really fucked up slashdot, i.e. lots of predictable and boring stories. There are MUCH more interesting things which fit the "Technology AND culture" label.

Now, this story seems correct (as far as it goes), but there are useful stereotypes. The "geek" title is now just plain uninteresting and unproductive. The one major objection to this that I can think of are High School kids where it's probable a good thing for everyone to think that the "geeks" will be rich someday, i.e. it elps balance out the social situations, but the word "geek" should have very little place in adult society.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
What is a slashdot? (3.00 / 5) (#57)
by blixco on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:03:25 PM EST

Just curious. I've never heard of a slashdot. I'm curious as to why everyone on K5 is so obsessed with slashdot...or more appropriately, why everyone on K5 is interested in K5 becoming slashdot.
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
What is slashdot - (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by mystik on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 09:43:05 AM EST

http://slashdot.org It's a breeding pit for trolls. But occasionally has some good information. Browsing @ level 3 filters out most of the dirt.

[ Parent ]
Oof! (none / 0) (#86)
by Arkady on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 08:16:09 PM EST

I must say, it's great to have someone here who's never heard of slashdot. ;-)

I still read the articles most days, since the news aspect is still relatively good, but I rarely post. The other comment here is well spoken in calling it a breeding ground for trolls.

It's nice to know that /. hasn't achieved 100% mindshare yet; it leaves hope for the success of less mass-oriented spaces.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Re: Oof! (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by nevets on Mon Dec 04, 2000 at 08:00:48 AM EST

I agree about /. But that is what Anonymous brings you. I believe that is needed. But having an anonymous users allowed, you get 99% garbage, but sometimes that 1% is really worth it.
Steven Rostedt --
The MaTux has you
[ Parent ]
Labels and who you are. And who I am. (3.33 / 6) (#55)
by blixco on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 01:39:14 PM EST

This is funny, really. You're angry at a group of people because they define themselves as a group of people. Should there be no groups, then, at all? Anywhere? No common thread of identification between people?

That's fine with me. You can do that if you want to. I encourage you to do exactly what you want to do and to not identify yourself or apply any set of labels to you or to us. You're right. We should be without labels.

I'll ignore your advice and admonition, though, because classifying people (especially as friend or foe) is fairly important to me. The geek label? Just a subset of that, really: if someone says "I'm a geek," I immediately know four things about that person, and one of them may be "that person is a dumbass" but the other three things will help enable a useful interaction. That works for me. You apparently put a lot more (negative) weight behind the label "geek." And that's fine too. You can believe what you want about people who label themselves just as you can choose to not participate in that label. That's a great way to be, really. I admire your ability to not classify anyone, including yourself.

"It is bad enough when people place other people into groups. It is an excuse for bigotry and hatred." It's also a great way to determine who people are.

It sounds like you keep a list of thousands in your head, each person a unique individual, none of them grouped together into "friends" or "family" or "authority figure" or "ranting buffoon." That's neat. I tried it this morning, though, and found I could only keep about 200 unique classifications between individuals....I had to use a television to do this, because I don't know 200 people....but it made my head hurt. I'd like to know your trick. I want to learn this method of identifying people without using labels or groups. Can it be expressed verbally?

In the end, I'm a geek. I'm not like any geek I know. But I know what makes me a geek, and I know what makes some other friends of mine geeks, and I know what makes my mother not a geek.

Now, why was this not a diary post?

The root of the problem has been isolated.
Sarcasm...I get it... (2.66 / 3) (#73)
by eskimo on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 10:53:57 PM EST

First of all, in response to your last question, I would ask, why wasn't that an editorial comment?

Now onto the meat of your question, about my 'trick.' Well, it is easy. Maybe too easy. I don't look for patterns in people. I look at each person I meet, or associate with or whatever, and I look at their merits. Your point about not knowing 200 people is pretty important. I don't know 200 people either. I guess this boils down to the old axion, 'think globally, act locally.' I wrote a story on k5, and as a result, I have learned about some people, and what they think of themselves and their community. I didn't even get 200 posts, and I have responded to just a fraction of those. I have interacted with people, and formed judgements. In my personal life, the scale is even smaller. But it's no trick. And if you found 200 unique personalities on TV, I'd love to have your cable system.

Few people affect my day to day life. They are the people I look at as unique. My friends are a pretty diverse and wonderful group. And they surprise me all the time. It is a beautiful thing. I can't believe you, somebody so much better than and more unique than everybody else could get a headache, because you are clearly qualified to group us all accordingly. You know, now that I know whose drawer I am in, I don't feel so bad.

Now, I will respond sans sarcasm. Take notes. I have repeatedly had to emphasize that I have no problem with groups forming. I acknowledged IN THE STORY that that was inevitable. I have also pointed this out in other posts. I fault nobody for finding solace in a group. What I find troubling is that people form into a line under a name, and the ends of the bell curve get chopped off in the big picture, because the picture isn't big enough, and minds are just too narrow. Labelling isn't a great way to know who people are, as you claim. It is a crutch. You don't know enough people to have to rely on it. You've admitted as much already. If you need to fall back on stereotypes and labels in the real world, let alone here, you are not much better than some Springer guest Klansmen, just less malignant.

You see, I have associated myself with a group. I have associated myself with readers and contributors here at k5. I would like to think that the geek community/collective is part of k5, and not the other way around. I would like to think that the people of k5 are interested in learning and sharing, and maybe even teaching each other. But the more imprtant the geek archetype becomes to the identity of the site, the less it will have to teach me, and the less I will be encouraged to share. That might not be a big deal to you, but there are plenty of people that feel the same way.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Sarcasm? (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by blixco on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 11:10:13 AM EST

If I sound sarcastic, that's your interpretation.

I wasn't being sarcastic at all. Your answer actually heped me understand you a lot. Thanks very much. The bit at the end, I was serious: this looks like a diary entry. It's a troll. But what the hell, I dig trolls.

I'm thinking then that you're more worried about people's perception of you than I am. I think a lot of us are the same way. If we hear "she's / he's a geek" directed at us, we either become defensive or cocky.

I don't see it that way. I look at classifications of people as being a much easier way to remember who they are, what their skillset is, and why I know them. Yes, it is prejudicial, in that some people are morons, and are consistantly morons, and that leads me to labelling them a "moron." If they end up being brilliant and charismatic and wonderful in the long run, I change the label.

"If you need to fall back on stereotypes and labels in the real world, let alone here, you are not much better than some Springer guest Klansmen, just less malignant." I do understand why you feel this way, but let me see if I can clarify how I read this: if you want to call yourself a "shmoo" and you create the label "shmoo," and all your friends want to be called a "shmoo" as well, then why can't I refer to you as a "shmoo?" According to you, *I* would be at fault for the label and what it implies. I would be a draconian bigot. I would be calling you what you want to be called, but I'm the nazi. I don't understand that apsect. If you're OK with groups but not OK with people being identified by the groups they are in, or at least not OK with me identifying them by that group, then I'm just never going to understand what you're thinking, or why we should all think that way.

Because after all, this is Why We Should Hate Geeks, right? I don't hate geeks. I think it's awfully bigoted of you to look at the label in that narrow of a focus. It may be a negative label to you, it may be a bruise for your ego....so don't call yourself or anyone else a geek. Don't use labels or classification. That's fine, that's a great way to live. Understand though that if I call my friend Erika a geek, it's because Erika *is* a geek, and she's damn proud of it. It's a *positive* label, one that she wears with just as much pride as the "gay" label. Understand that if some random redneck calls me a nigger, I'm going to take offense to that because the intent was offensive and the label is offensive. But it's his right to look at me that way, and if I can, I'll change his perception of me. If I can't, I'm not worried....what he thinks of me doesn't matter at all. Never has. Never will. He is entitled to think and believe whatever the hell he wants.

On a side note, I watched ten taped test matches yesterday, which gives me more than enough (very) unique people to experiment with. Plus, got to see some great rugby in the process.

The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
A Frikkin' Limey??? JUST KIDDING! (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by eskimo on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 05:21:05 PM EST

First of all, I don't see 'geek' as an inherently offensive term (though honestly, I was flipping through channels today, and there was some figure skater in some sort of rock and roll figure skating event, and he was skating to a ten year old song, and he looked funny, and the absolute first word that entered my head was, 'geek'). I also don't care if somebody calls me a geek. But I refuse to call myself anything but 'eskimo' here, and other things in other places. But I can't control what other people call me. And I don't worry about it.

A great example of how a label can rob a culture of it's finer points can be found here in the United States. I am from Florida, which is geographically part of the 'South,' but all but forgotten by the likes of Alabama. I personally don't care either way, but people here emphasize the stereotype of a Southerner as somebody who has a late model, primer gray Nova on blocks in their front yard, next to the rusty washing machine full of Budweiser empties. They go to Monster Truck races, and they are racist, or whatever. Some of this is true for some of the people, but does anybody really think that they are celebrating their individuality with their 'American by birth, Southern by the Grace of God' bumper stickers? Would William Faulkner have one on his car? Michael Stipe?

It is just an excuse for people from other places to disregard an entire culture just because of some jokes they heard from Jeff Foxworthy, who IS a Southerner.

My point is actually pretty easy...if Erika has so many labels, then doesn't Erika describe her best? Otherwise we get into some sort of infinite genus naming game. It just doesn't make much sense to me. Yesterday I found out that a guy I work with, who is my age, was a television camera man. It just never came up in our daily conversations. I hope Erika surprises you like that. And if she and your other friends do, don't you think your life will become some catalog of their quirks and characteristics? I am really just trying to keep it simple.

And don't be ashamed of your sarcasm. Sarcasm kicks ass.

Sidenote: even though I am white, I always thought it would be funny to have a bumper sticker that said, 'Black by birth, but Southern by the Grace of God.' I guess that's what I mean by confounding stereotypes.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Can't email you... (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by blixco on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 06:46:19 PM EST

...this would normally be in email at this point, but anyhow.

I get what you're saying. I really do. It makes infinite sense, and I'm glad that people look at the world that way. Maybe more people can. I'm going to try.

And I too am from the US, though I've lived overseas. I'm a huge fan of rugby, and there are a few of us in the US. It's flattering to think that my accent is anything but obnoxious New England mixed with the worst of central Texas. So no, I'm not a limey. Bastard limeys. Ya know, they keep beating my favorite teams, which just pisses me off....

Anyhow. Excellent discussion, just the type of thing I like to read on K5. Thanks.
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
"Geek" is suffering the same fate as &qu (4.62 / 8) (#56)
by /dev/niall on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 01:58:58 PM EST

To me, "geek" means many of the same things as "hacker". Someone who like to tinker. It has no religous or politcal connotations. There is no way of knowing what kind of music a "geek" likes, or what websites "geeks" like to visit. "Geeks" could be male, female, black, white, red, yellow, purple, etc. "Geeks" could be old or young, parents or children.

Unfortunately with the advent of "slashdot-type" sites, there is now a "geek community". Until recently, "geek community" meant 3 or more geeks getting together to tinker with something at the same time. Now it means something different. It means you're part of the "us" eskimo mentioned. It might mean you look down on "them", or "normal folk". Now geeks don't want to tinker anymore, they want to "hack the system". They want to get back at those who have opressed them.

They want to use a lot of quotation marks in their posts.

The "geek community" has made me no longer call myself a geek except to those few personal friends who still understand what the word means to me. The "geek community" with their us/them attitude has become worse than any jock, preppy, or administrator who made your life miserable in high-school by treating you differently. The last few weeks of posts here have done nothing but confirm this; Are we so superior? (no).

Look at all the "we geeks" you see, and try substituting other "groups" to see how silly it looks. "We, as lawyers, have an attitude. We take pride in our abilities with the law that baffle most of the rest of the world." It's completely valid, but it's pompous and, well, silly.

I'm not sure that shirking the name "geek" is the answer. We bitch and moan that the press has ruined "hacker" for everyone, lets not ruin "geek".

"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot

No standard definition (4.20 / 5) (#59)
by Erf on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 02:23:49 PM EST

The biggest problem I see with having a label like "geek" is that it means wildly different things to different people. To me, a geek is someone who's so interested -- even passionate -- about something that it affects the other aspects of their lives. I'm a Physics geek, and this shows itself in casual conversation, my fiction, artwork, etc. etc. But to a lot of people, "geek" is an insult. I'm not entirely clear what it means (it's pretty vague), but I think it's akin to "socially inept". Correct me if I'm wrong. (Still others define "geek" the same way most K5'ers might, but still mean it as an insult...)

In any case, telling someone "I'm a geek" can result in anything from "right on, me too!" (while often meaning something quite different from what I mean) to "don't be so hard on yourself!"

I don't mind being called a "geek" by those who define it similar to the way I do. But like most labels, it has no standard and isn't terribly useful in general.

...doin' the things a particle can...

what a geek is (4.00 / 3) (#75)
by 31: on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 11:57:03 PM EST

Well, classically, a geek is someone that bites heads off living chickens at a circus...

[ Parent ]
your .sig (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by Arkady on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 07:51:37 PM EST

If you plan on moderating to anything but 3, please respond instead.

Wouldn't that more appropriately be:

If you plan on moderating to anything but 3, please respond as well.

As it stands, it kinda sounds like you're trolling for 3's, you know? It makes more sense, in my opinion, to give whatever rating you think is appropriate and, if that rating is outside whatever range you think is "normal" (for me, that's 2 to 4; I usually try to post a reason if I rate 1).


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
good point... (3.50 / 2) (#87)
by 31: on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 10:11:24 PM EST

I was hoping that people would take that as a don't moderate... but your point's well taken... but it really bugs when when i've got a score of like 4.14 (so at least several people thought it was above average), with no responses... or really, if people would never moderate, but always respond instead... oh well.


[ Parent ]
Just like.... But better?? (3.20 / 5) (#64)
by digitalh2o on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:44:18 PM EST

I agree with what many have posted... I am a geek, but I am also many other things. The goal of k5 was to be 'just like /. but better' it seems to me that k5 has accomplished this goal and has fallen into the same trap. I used to come to k5 because I was interested now I come much less because there are fewer articles I deem interesting and too much internal fighting. Call this a shameless plug for the site I am working on, but it seems better if sites are smaller and more focused. My area of interest is domestic and international politics and media. This is where my interests lay and I build a community with others of similar and varying interests. Our interests will are diverse and span many sites thus, I can not place a label on users who visit; we are people but so much more. Just for the record, its http://whyrun.com.

Just like.... But better?? (2.33 / 6) (#65)
by digitalh2o on Sat Dec 02, 2000 at 05:45:13 PM EST

I agree with what many have posted... I am a geek, but I am also many other things. The goal of k5 was to be 'just like /. but better' it seems to me that k5 has accomplished this goal and has fallen into the same trap. I used to come to k5 because I was interested now I come much less because there are fewer articles I deem interesting and too much internal fighting. Call this a shameless plug for the site I am working on, but it seems better if sites are smaller and more focused. My area of interest is domestic and international politics and media. This is where my interests lay and I build a community with others of similar and varying interests. Our interests will are diverse and span many sites thus, I can not place a label on users who visit; we are people but so much more. Just for the record, its http://whyrun.com.

Live by UNIX!!! (2.40 / 5) (#76)
by swf on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 12:08:31 AM EST

Yes, that's right, you too can now live by UNIX(tm)!!!! Tired of being pigeonholed? UNIX(tm) can classify you in any number of groups! Think of the advantages! You can now belong to "PHB" AND "humanity", "geek" and "anything-else-you-wish" !!!!

Order NOW!!! (US$49.99) And if you don't like it, chroot()


I *am* a geek! (3.75 / 4) (#78)
by gnugeek on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 09:50:55 AM EST

On one hand, I do hate the over generalization of who I am and what I do.

On the other hand, I: love computers, love unix/linux, work with computers for a living, watch star trek, played RPGs (a lot) and now play computer RPGs, have read thousands of science fiction novels, enjoy gadgets, etc, etc.

I fit the stereotype, pretty much. It used to depress me. But then I realized something: I played with computers, watched star trek, played RPGs, and read thousands of scifi novels WAY before it was fashionable. Way before the marketing agents of the world noticed that the "geeks" were making money now and turning into a huge profitable demographic.

Its easy, especially with the hyper focus on us, to pick out the things that "fit the mold" and focus on only that. Hey, look at all the geeky things I do!

However, if I stop think about it for a moment, I also: have a wife and two kids who I love to play with, spend time teaching at the co-op preschool my daughter goes to, have a circle of close friends that I spend a lot of time with, have strong social skills, am not a libertarian, and haven't read "Atlas Shrugged".

You really become hosed when you start worrying so much about all of these stupid marketing demographic groups that advertising agencies create to the point that you become angry that you fit into one of them. Don't let THEM tell YOU who to be.

"geek problem": seen recently in an ad (2.40 / 5) (#79)
by xah on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 11:08:52 AM EST

I recently saw a television commercial for an Internet security company. They asked, "Do you have a geek problem?"

I don't know, but I'd like to give them a geek problem.

This 'geek' term is useful (2.75 / 4) (#81)
by weirdling on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 03:14:46 PM EST

I use it when I want people to realise that I don't play by their social rules. I've warned several girlfriends that I am a geek. Of course, it doesn't seem to work because they have all assumed I'm somehow normal. However, now that there are a lot of geeks, the average person has come to understand that wearing whatever is handy is common behaviour and not an indication of diminished work capacity, for example. Being a geek means that people leave me alone for the most part. I agree it is divisive, but I didn't come up with it. The label was placed on me in elementary school.
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
The Thing Is... (3.75 / 4) (#84)
by Matrix on Sun Dec 03, 2000 at 07:31:47 PM EST

...geek is a label of convenience more than anything else. And more than any other generic word. I don't judge people by their "geekiness" or by whether or not they're "geeks." Its pretty much impossible... In fact, I very rarely use the word "geek" in everyday conversation, except when intentionally referring in a very broad sense to people with a certant mindset/outlook. More often, I use more specific words, like otaku, gamer, fan of X. Geek just doesn't really work, except when used on oneself... The range of people who'd call themselves geeks is broad, and covers quite a diverse range of beliefs, interests, hobbies, and experiences.

Which is why you'll never see geek-targeted marketing - for the simple reason that its financially infeasible to try and create an ad that is appealing to such a wide target audience. For a similar reason, you'll never see a "geek party" or other organized political movement. And perhaps that's for the best - given their wide range of interests and concerns, having one central group try to cover everything will never amount to anything. It'll be destroyed by infighting, or will narrow in too selectively on one very small range of "geeks."

Oh, and I routinely cause people to re-evaluate their stereotypes - except when I want to re-inforce one, for whatever diabolical reasons of my own...

"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

There IS a "Geek Community" (3.80 / 5) (#89)
by jabber on Mon Dec 04, 2000 at 10:26:29 AM EST

I disagree, there certainly IS a geek community - though it is not as tightly bound as the "popular media" might make it out to be. There are some definitive traits shared by all 'members of the community' that include tendencies towards being introverted, intellectual, curious about the why's and how's of the world. Geeks are not all into Lunix, or building their own PC. They have not all been mistreated by football players and prom queens in High School. They do not all wear classes, or beards, and sit in front of computers at odd hours, eating Cheetoes and drinking Mountain Dew. But they do share some very particular traits, even if they do not all like discusing the fine subtleties of some minor plot arc of Babylon 5. Geeks tend to coagulate together in offices, and large gatherings. They are not as closely knit as some other communities (ethnic, religious, professional), and they tend to overlay on them rather than butt-up against them. Maybe there isn't actually a "Geek Community" per se - maybe it's actually more of a meta-community; which seems oddly appropriate.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

us==them (3.33 / 3) (#90)
by nutate on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 12:12:34 AM EST

Couldn't agree more. But, which is worse, finding your peers (based on superficial similarities) and then realizing they're different and exploding (Sig 11 vs. CmdrTaco) or having the transnational marketers assign you a group. Being heavily immersed in the commodified culture of american commercial television as a youngster through teen, I was taught to be hyper critical of anyone who was selling a product. I don't think I am alone in that demographic... luckily, that demographic (hopefully) doesn't buy from companies who spend more money on marketing than developing positive and useful commodities.

The nit-picking rage I see here is proof that us geeks have just as many differences as similarities, but as a labor force, we are a trend in the market. ... ... drop out of society... spread information... spread nourishment ... spread peace ... control the warriors of this world out only for self-empowerment at the expense of others... fuck non-creative consumer electronics... you create your own needs by repetitive exposure.

I think dem bones said it best with Participate in your own manipulation.

But finally, hate only increases the miscommunication and disinformation in a really simple argument for each individual's innate ability for independence in the face of sameness.

Some geeks might be like that (1.50 / 2) (#91)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 03:59:00 AM EST

Not all of us Geeks live in the city. I live in a rural area. I go Rabbiting with my air rifle (UK) and have spent the last few weekend building a fence. As our garden is mostly solid rock that's a long time with a jackhammer.
I'm not a stereotypical nerd. I go to the gym twice a week and can beat the crap out of most people who give me shit. It's not very friendly and it rarely happens but it has happened before. If we did have a post apocoliptic situation I may not be able to survive completely on my own but if I found a few other people we'd manage OK.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
"Geek" is a stereotype like any other... (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by Elpenor on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 12:52:27 PM EST

The Geek stereotype is the same as any other stereotype... and in my openion any stereotypes are not good at all. All they do is split people up into falsely labeled groups as, no one is the stereotypical Geek (or stereotypical anything for that matter) but we are lead to believe that everyone in a given stereotype walks, talks, and thinks the same way when nothing is farther from the truth. Even inside stereotypes we have stereotypes (Didn't you know that all /.ers love Natalie Portman and Hot grits down their pants?). Maybe it is just me, I kinda floated between stereotypes I was into computers, gadgets, RPG's and taking stuff apart and seeing how it works. But I was also into sports- varsity track, baseball, hockey (You can get much more unGeek then hockey). So in stereotypical terms the Jocks thought I was a Geek and the Geeks thought that I was a Jock ("What do you mean you can't come to the LAN party, ooohh you have a hockey game...*cough*Jock*cough*").

But IMHO you can get the most out of a community the more diverse the people who are in the community. By listeneing to people who think, talk, walk, act and are just totally different from you, can lead to insites that you would have never been aware of by only interacting with people who are like you and think the way you think. And labeling yourself as a stereotype is just begging for people to misunderstand you and cause problems, because by saying that you are a Geek people automatically think they know pretty much everything that you like dislike and how you act way before they have even tried to get to know you. And by stereotyping yourself you are pushing everyone that does not fit your stereotype or does not think they fit your stereotype away and basically saying that they wont understand where you are comming from. When you are not even giving them a chance.

I agree with eskimo in that we should do everything we can to break any stereotype that we can, not only will this open peoples minds to the divercity that we do have here in this community, but it will also bring more and different people into it and maybe even open our minds a little bit to the people in other communities out there.

"Duff Beer - You know you want it..."

hmmm (1.00 / 1) (#93)
by glmull on Tue Dec 05, 2000 at 08:13:35 PM EST

does that mean the Zetas are geeks? non-human geeks.
Zetatalk tells us what will happen in 2003.
Yankee Doodle was a bad name too.... (none / 0) (#94)
by Dr. Smeegee on Thu Dec 07, 2000 at 09:55:27 AM EST

Look, it is a good thing when disaffeted groups take the perjoratives put on them by their opressors as a symbol of defiance and solidarity.

To wit:
Yankee Doodle Dandy
We're Here, We're Queer...
Niggas With Attitudes
Uppity Women Unite, etc.

Of course, as these groups gain a voice in society there will be inevetable blurring around the edges. In a hundred years not only will everyone be Irish on St. Patricks day, but everyone will be a Nigga on Quaanza. It will probably be cool to kiss coworkers of your sex at gay pride parties... who knows?

If you think I am full of crap ask someone who is "1/12th" Cherokee what they think of Leonard Peltier! :-)

Why We Should Hate Geeks | 94 comments (80 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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