The Darkness at the Heart of Geekdom

SharingIt seems like the topic du jour of late in geek circles is the latent (and all-too-often blatant) misogyny in the culture. Be it nonsense such as this piece (with a great Scalzi rebuttal here) or the attacks on such “girl geek” icons as Felicia Day, or the flak that feminist writer and gamer Anita Sarkeesian has gotten for her Kickstarter project (a project geared toward pointing out all these destructive tropes in gaming).

These are topics that need to be addressed. We geeks have a roiling, dark underbelly to our culture that is poisonous. And as the mainstream culture becomes more “geekified”, that underbelly is going to be exposed. Geeks have been perennial outsiders their entire lives. And as “geek culture” merges into “the culture”, this is not the face we want to offer.

Where does this come from? Geekery–like most other cultures–has been fairly male-dominated until recently. And we have an element that is freaking the hell out that not only are girls playing with us, but so are the popular ones. There’s probably an element of resentment and past rejection to it. There’s a bunker-mentality of geekdom being where we gathered to get away from the popular people–now there’s disorientation as we let those same people into the bunker and hand them dice bags to boot.

Plus–we’ve reached a state in geek culture where we are not only merging fully into the mainstream, but into academia as well. We’re exposed to the light–and thus exposed to study. Some of us are looking at ourselves and seeing some things we don’t like–things we don’t love. And, frankly, some geeks have a hard time with that. Geeks, by their very nature, are ultra-protective of the things they love. They bag-and-board with zealous care. And when their misfires and issues are pointed out–well, sometimes there’s a bit of a freak-out.

And I think that’s where we are now. We’re looking at ourselves, looking into the soul of geekdom and finding it lacking. It’s a scary thing to look within and see the heart of darkness you never thought could be.

But we HAVE to look at that darkness. And shine a light on it. And fill it with something brighter, something better. We have to be better geeks. We have to do something about the poison in our hearts.

And the good news is we can.

Geek culture is about love and about sharing that love with others. That’s who we really are. We’re about squeeing with delight when someone else has a cool cosplay outfit of our favorite character. We’re about showing off our hand-painted mini collections and saying “See this? I spent MONTHS on this! Isn’t it cool?!?” This is who we are. We’re the big tent, the open door, the big-enough-for-everyone sandbox that we can all play in.

It’s up to all of us…ALL OF US…to show other people that. And to mean it.

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About Shedrick

I am a professional librarian and a part-time writer that's working to do that the other way around. I currently live in North Texas in the lovely city of Denton (“The Home of Happiness“) with my lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, I can sometimes be found in a pub (or the American equivalent) enjoying a fine brew.
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