Guilty admission: When I attended my first Comic Con a couple of years ago, I prejudged fans of the event as "a little weird, and kind of lame". All the cos play, and people getting hyped up about fictional comic characters... I didn't quite get it. But I recently attended the Ottawa Comic Con again this year, and found that my opinion of the event and those who attended it, has shifted. I think it's actually kind of cool to see how involved and excited people get for this event. They come up with cool cos-tumes (costumes) and get to "play pretend" and be superheroes, if only for a day. It got me thinking of how our idea of "cool" has shifted since a decade or two ago.
For example, if you had to be labeled as one and only one of the following three things for the rest of your life, which would it be: a dork, a geek, or a nerd? For me and probably for most of us, the answer is a no-brainer; but to some, all three terms are just a different side of the same acute triangle. (If you're over the age of 20, and can still remember the names of at least 2 other kinds of triangles without Googling, you probably fall into the nerd category.)
To me, the term "geek" is probably the least offensive of the three. Well, it's the one that's the least likely to give me some sort of inferiority complex. At the end of the day though, the definitions of all three terms are subjective and can be differentiated in a multitude of ways. Here's how I tend to distinguish these terms:
- DORK: Someone who is consistently clumsy, fashionably-challenged, and quite often - some level of socially awkward, but who is also very studious and intelligent by nature. Think "Steve Urkel" of Family Matters.
- GEEK: Someone who is a bit of a fanboy/fangirl slash know-it-all when it comes to one or a handful of things that most people would not think twice about. They aren't always socially awkward, but can be when they only want to engage in conversations that are directly related to the thing they think they know much about. Think gamers, sneaker junkies, antique collectors... Think "Abed" from Community.
- NERD: Someone who spends the bulk of their time deliberately isolated from others, preferring instead to bury their head in several books and research, with the ultimate goal of being able to retain and spit out both useful and useless facts that will undoubtedly go over the heads of average people during any given interaction with them. Think "Sheldon Cooper" of the Big Bang Theory.
So there you have it. Those are my "Shaolin Says" definitions of those three similar but different terms. What I've noticed is that "geek culture" has been quickly rising and I'm not mad at it. At one point, to be "cool" was to be the person who didn't much care for scholastic achievement, the one in the latest fashions, the one who would sneak cigarettes into the bathroom, etc... And now, the culture has encountered a shift where the so-called "geeks" of society are coming into their own. They're creating their own "cool" by representing their interests and intellect in innovative ways that speak to everyone.
Steve Jobs, though he was a college drop-out - in his early childhood days, skipped a few grades and often got bullied for being a loner. Mark Zuckerberg (who also dropped out of Harvard!), was also a kid genius. While his middle-school friends were obsessed with playing video games after school, he was busy writing software to create video games of his own. And then we have the wave of women in tech happening... which is AMAZING!
If you've never heard of Kimberly Bryant, you need to KNOW HER, ok?! She is the founder and creator of Black Girls CODE, a not-for-profit organization that provides technology education to young African-American girls who are interesting in learning coding and becoming digital creatives:) Bryant, an electrical engineer and bio-technician herself, was inspired to create Black Girls CODE after sending her own daughter to a coding summer camp and realizing that her daughter was one of the only girls there, and furthermore, one of the only Black people there. Come through, girl!!!
Kaya Thomas is another young lady with Black girl magic to look out for. She co-founded her own STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) camp for young girls; she's started a YouTube channel to teach coding; and she's created her own iOS app called WeReadToo, which features books written by and for people of color. And she's still just a teenager, y'all!
I could go on and on about how awesome and influential this new 'geek culture' generation is becoming; but I think you get my point. Nowadays, the line between geeky and cool is becoming so very blurred, and I dig it... I really dig it. As someone who used to love being cooped up in my room, reading books and writing poetry for fun (not because I had to)... it's refreshing to see that "cool" is now evolving into a broader term.
If the two people/characters below (Troy Barnes and Childish Gambino) can openly exist within the same human being and be equally popular, I think the world is definitely moving in a positive direction.
Hey, boy... hey! ;)