I’m into geeky stuff. I like comics, Science Fiction and Fantasy, RPGs and computer games. I like geek movies and series and products. But I don’t like geek culture.  I don’t like the entitlement. I don’t like the sexism. I don’t like the racism. I don’t like the homophobia. The pettiness. The viciousness for the sake of being vicious. The proudly proclaimed ignorance and disdain for your fellow geeks and the world at large.

Don’t call me a geek. I’m better than that.

What really got me thinking about this over the past few months are the seemingly never-ending stories about the way geeks are proving themselves to be as socially maladjusted and unworthy of society’s respect as they are stereotyped to be.

There always seems to be some story waiting. Cheesecake fetish art defended as integral to RPGs. Women being driven out of competitive gaming by guys who can’t keep their mouths to themselves. Or being barred from events because not being allowed to call a woman a foul name or not being allowed to grope them is an offense against nature. Another round of ‘ick, gays in my games?’ (except for cute lesbians who make out, of course), or ‘ick, gays in my comics?!’ (read the comments), anotherinstance of some egregiously over the top stupid gamer behavior,like, say, publicly championing games about raping small children. (Don’t tell me they are ‘chibi’ or ‘college girls in junior high uniforms’, I don’t see the difference in the visual representation and neither will 99% of the non-geek world). And then calling it censorship when Kickstarter doesn’t want to help make that particular project come to fruition.

Geeks as a community get some abuse. And contrary to what geeks have told each other over the years (and I’ve done this myself), they deserve it. Really. With the exception of sports fans, who have lucked out and get a pass for behavior that is just as reprehensible (like the Paterno riot), I can’t think any other group of enthusiasts who are so immersed in their hobbies. And immersed in a way that isn’t all that healthy.

 

Cosplay is a great example. Cosplay at a con? Great.  But cosplay when showing up for jury duty? Disgraceful and embarrassing. If not to you, to everybody else who shares your fandom. White kids (late teens, early twenties) cosplaying anime characters and speaking in self-taught pidgin Japanese in the middle of the Japanese mall here in Chicago? When there is no convention, no event, no sponsored contest … just because you feel like being a cultural tourist? That’s embarrassing. Again, if not you, to everyone who identities as being a part of the same fandom.

We can trot out endless examples of homophobia, racism, classism and hell, a half-dozen other isms in which geeks regularly and routinely cover themselves in shame.  At the core of it, Geekdom is anall-embracing, welcoming and inclusive subculture. As long as you obey the rules of that subculture by being a geek first, and gay, a woman
and/or black second. And never, ever criticizing that paradigm.

 

And I don’t even have to get into the way geeks treat women, both female geeks and others. You know it’s messed up, I know it’s messed up, everybody knows it’s messed up. The argument isn’t even that it is right, the argument is now ‘that’s just gamer culture’. If that’s gamer culture? I don’t want to be gamer. So I’m not going to be.

I am not a geek.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up the things I like. It just means that I’m going to back off from embracing a community that is bound and determined to defecate on itself at every opportunity, fling that poo around and then get it on me by association.

I can live without the relentless negativity. I can live without the cultural discourse being set by and for sheltered teenagers. I can live without people associating all the negative baggage of geekdom with me. Because I didn’t earn that baggage. It’s not mine. And it may not be yours. I can’t tell you what to shoulder, but I can tell you that the Geek Fallacies, including the one that says that you can’t criticize and ostracize other geeks, are ultimately destructive and counterproductive.

So for me? I’m not identifying as a geek from now on. And when I talk to somebody who does, I’m going to have to wonder why they want to indulge in self-inflicted damage.  Why you want to be judged as being the same as those guys who hate women, hate gays, hate minorities,hate change and hate having all of that pointed out as hate. You are
free to call me self-loathing if you want, but I’m not the one wallowing in the muck and cheering that I’m just as dirty as everyone else in the sty.

I have too much respect for myself and for my fellow human beings, even the ones geeks don’t like to want to be a part of that subculture any more.

Don’t call me a geek. I’m better than that. And so are you.

Feel free to comment on this one over on my G+ stream, if you have an account. If you don’t, get one.

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