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Fear and Loathing: Geeks and Social Justice Warriors by Jacob Lloyd

(This is the first part of a two-part series by guest blogger Jacob Lloyd — ASG)

“Give them an inch and before you know it they’ve got a foot; much more than that and you don’t have a leg to stand on.”
-General Melchett, Blackadder Goes Forth

I am a geek. My time at school wasn’t happy, so – like so many others – I took refuge in science-fiction and fantasy. For this I was mocked dreadfully. Having nowhere else to go, I persisted. It was a wonderful thing to discover that there was a place for people like me, that there were conventions and suchlike where I could meet people who shared my interests. I am a geek and proud of it.

I am also a student of human nature.  I have studied cultures and subcultures, both through reading their own writings – I have linked to a set of essays on geek sociology below – and reading articles written by outsiders looking in.  This has proven more interesting than I might have wished over the last few years, as the culture wars have spread into science-fiction and fantasy.  Recent events – the banning of a certain writer from WorldCon on what seems to be spurious grounds – have forced me to take a long look at how geeks have changed over the last few years under pressure from social justice warriors.

Several people I talked to said that geeks embraced social justice warriors.  I disagree.  I insisted, for reasons I will attempt to detail below, that the vast majority of geeks loathed and feared social justice warriors, for reasons deeply rooted in geek psychology, a problem made worse by the deliberate misinterpretation of geek motives.  There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but I think this is generally true.

Before starting, I’d like to make one point clear.  These days, it is very hard to explain how the other side thinks without being accused of condoning and/or supporting bad attitudes or behavior.  This has led to a lack of understanding and empathy that has led, in turn, to a flat refusal (on both sides of the political aisle) to recognize that the other side either has a valid point or, at the very least, thinks it has.  As has been noted here, people are more interested in delegitimizing opinions than in countering them.  I neither condone or condemn geek attitudes – they simply exist, as far as I am concerned.

And, also before you start reading, you might want to dig into these articles: Five Geek Social Fallacies, Geeks, MOPS and Sociopaths, Boarding Schools are Evil, Exclusive Inclusivity and Social Gentrification.  I am deeply indebted to those authors for helping me to understand the problems facing geeks and the geek point of view.

So … geeks.  What is a geek anyway?

It’s not an easy question to answer.  One can easily say that a naturalized immigrant is a citizen of his new country, but is he truly one of his new people?  Or is he a fake, whatever his papers say?  Are you a geek if you watched The Avengers and the rest of the MCU movies, but never picked up a comic book?  Or do you have to read every comic book religiously, cite trivia from books twice your age and attend every SF/fantasy convention within range?  Do you have to cosplay?  Play Dungeons and Dragons?  Write books and scripts?  Take part in discussions or just let it wash over you?

And I don’t have a good answer.  Everything I come up with is either far too inclusive, in the sense than an Atheist might conflate Muslims and Jews, or far too exclusive.  The best I can think of is that a geek is someone who willingly and regularly participates in geeky hobbies at the expense of other activities.  You are not a geek if you watch The Avengers once; you are a geek if you watch Doctor Who marathons or eagerly nitpick Star Trek episodes or write long explanations of precisely how Disney smashed Star Wars canon into space dust or get involved in RPGs or …

Yes, this is far from perfect.  But it’s the best I can do.

Geekdom is probably best described as an onion.  On the outside, you have people who watch movies and little else.  They may not even consider themselves geeks.  One layer in, you have people who cosplay for fun and, again, do little else.  Two layers in, you have people who are exclusively devoted to a single fandom – Star Wars, Harry Potter or Twilight, perhaps – that has gone mainstream.  And then – right at the core, a number of layers in from the outer edge of our imaginary onion – are the pure geeks.  This is not a formalized structure in any way, shape or form.  It’s merely a way of looking at the geek/fandom social group.

You can say that your position in the onion is dependent upon how much energy you choose to invest in being a geek and, perhaps more importantly, if you have somewhere else to go.  A football jock who happens to like something geeky does have somewhere else to go, somewhere that builds social credit; he is rarely significantly invested in his geeky interest.

The point you have to understand about the pure geeks is two-fold.  First, they rarely have anywhere else to go for social support.  They are immensely invested in their geeky interests because they have nothing else.  Second, the vast majority of geeks – myself included – have had horrible, horrible, horrible, experiences with bullies.

Look at any high school.  The people at the bottom of the social hierarchy?  That’ll be the geeks.  They’re the ones who get picked on by everyone else, especially the ones who would be at the bottom if the geeks didn’t exist.  They are not sporty, they are not cool, they have no social cred at all.  No one wants to be their friend.  Everything they do is uncool by definition.  The lucky geeks find a handful of friends who share the same interests and bond over them; the unlucky geeks (like me) find themselves alone.

They want to be part of a group.  That’s a common human desire.  But they are often unable to join the cooler groups.  They’re the ones picked last for teams and often the first to be ejected.  They are social outcasts who face exclusion on a massive scale every day.  This sort of treatment makes it hard to develop any sense of empathy.  Why should one be empathic when empathy is never shown to you?

And all of this happens during their formative years, when they are more dependent on peer groups than their parents.  It is the worst possible time for any form of social exclusion.

This has long-term effects.  We learn social interaction by doing – and then learning from our mistakes.  (This is why people who move countries can run into problems because what was normal in the old country is not acceptable in the new.)  Geeks do not get to learn how to do everything from make friends and develop healthy relationships to ask out girls (or boys) without coming across as creepy.  Their mistakes are magnified because they’re at the bottom of the social hierarchy.  It’s safe to lash out at a geek and say things you wouldn’t dare say to someone with more social cred (or a genuine talent for violence).  By the time they are midway through high school, geeks have internalized four truths about how the world runs:

1) The vast majority will pick on you if you give them the slightest excuse.  Or even if you don’t.

2) Authority is useless, either heedless of your complaints or more inclined to punish you for being bullied than punishing the bullies.

3) You are helpless.  Resistance is futile.

4) It’s not WHAT you do that matters, it’s WHO you are.

You might argue that these are not true.  But, to geeks, they are.

A number of serious geeks I’ve met (myself included) are somewhere on the autistic spectrum.  They have problems relating to neurotypicals.  Others have been bullied and excluded so intensely that they are socially awkward.  They find it hard to build friendships with people who come across as even slightly threatening, let alone relationships with the opposite sex.  And part of the reason they are like this is because of Truth 4: they know they’ll be blasted for the slightest mistake, while the more popular people will get away with far worse behavior.  Geeks don’t give a damn about microaggressions because a) they know they mostly happen by accident and b) they’re too worried about aggressions.

Most geeks in high school – at least the ones I’ve met – are bitter.  They are excluded from the school mainstream even when they’re not being bullied regularly.  Some of them have to engage in preference falsification to get any social contact at all, others pray for something – anything – that will kill their enemies or at least put a wall between the predators and the prey.  Some kill themselves because they can’t take it anymore; a handful, so consumed with bitterness and hatred towards their entire society (the bullies and those who allow the bullies to bully), turn into school shooters.

Adulthood often brings with it maturity and a more nuanced view of society.  The vast majority of people who have experienced some form of social exclusion in school discover that the adult world is both more welcoming to everyone (although it brings its own challenges) and less tolerant of certain kinds of behavior.  The crap the popular kids pulled in high school, for example, will get them fired in most jobs.

But there are some people who are so badly damaged by their experiences that they don’t or can’t grow out of it.  To these people, as explained in the Social Gentrification article, fandom is a safe space in the truest possible sense.

It’s a place you can go to be with people who share your interests.  It’s a place where you won’t be judged or mocked or bullied or excluded merely for being a geek.  Geek Social Fallacies One and Two did not come out of nowhere.  They are responses to the horrendous treatment geeks suffered at the hands of their bullies – and everyone else, who found it easier or safer to side with the bullies than the bullied.  The person who has vast problems relating to others and judging what is appropriate is safe in fandom.

To put this in some context, I have a problem where I sometimes say the wrong word.  I once told my wife that she needed to speak to her husband about something.  That’s right – I told her to speak to me.  What normally happens is that I catch the mistake a second too late and correct myself – in this case, I meant to say she needed to talk to her father.  But what sometimes happens is that I’ll do it in front of someone a great deal less merciful, who will rub my nose in my mistake mercilessly.  It’s hard enough for me to talk to strangers – or even colleagues I don’t know that well – without fearing what might come out of my mouth.

As Wesley Crusher put it:

 

As recently as ten years ago, “something geeky” would have been easy to define, because those of us who self-identified as geeks or nerds – and who solidified our       membership in our culture by arguing what it meant to be a geek or a nerd, and why you were one but not the other because the other was weird – we were all part of a             relatively small subculture, and we found our way to the things that we loved (and   continue to love) because we weren’t particularly welcome anywhere else … or at        least we didn’t feel very comfortable there.”

 

Geek Social Fallacy One holds that Ostracisers Are Evil.  And everything geeks experience in their formative years supports that view.  It makes it hard for the geeks to realize that sometimes – perhaps – the ostracisers have a point, let alone exclude someone who really should have been excluded.  No.  To them, ostracisers are just bullies.  No geek wants to set a precedent for acceptable social exclusion for fear it will be used against them.  And, based on their lives so far, this is a reasonable fear.  Better to tolerate the ‘cat piss man’ than risk excluding him one week and being tossed out yourself the next.

 

And someone who goes too far – to the point where the vast majority of his fellow geeks no longer want him anywhere near them – is more likely to feel that he is being bullied than his behavior has gone past ‘socially awkward’ and into ‘utterly unacceptable.’  (This is partly because of Geek Social Fallacy Two, which makes it harder to accept criticism from a friend.)

 

Geeks, in short, have been treated so badly in their formative years that they are unable or unwilling to accept that their enemies might have a point.  And why not?  They know, intimately, that any sort of concession will be used against them.  They do not see their enemies as reasonable people because their lives have taught them that their enemies are not reasonable people.  They’re certainly not negotiating in good faith!

 

(The next installment continues from here with the interaction of geeks and others, especially sjws, in fandom — ASG)

67 Comments
  1. c4c
    (triggered a little here. 🙂 )

    January 12, 2018
  2. My definition of geek:
    Someone who displays genuine, socially unacceptable levels of enthusiasm.

    This does allow for things like religion geeks– but that’s pretty easily identified by watching, say, the former Pope Benedict the 16th talking about religion. Put it on mute, look at his eyes light up, his hands move, his whole body-language– he’s enjoying it, so much that he very easily will miss that someone else isn’t really all that interested.

    Geeks are popular targets for bullying because to love is to be vulnerable, and to geek means that people know what you love.

    January 12, 2018
    • It is one of the hardest things in the world to open yourself up if you know you’re going to be hurt. And another to open yourself up after you’ve been hurt, knowing that the same thing could happen again.

      January 12, 2018
    • That’s me…. Socially unacceptable enthusiasm. And the bullied high schooler with no friends was my daughter because after all I didn’t know how to teach her anything better.

      January 12, 2018
      • Is there a better way, when those whose responsibility it is to enforce basic behavior norms refuse to do it– or even join in?

        January 12, 2018
  3. Matthew #

    c4c

    January 12, 2018
  4. The crap the popular kids pulled in high school, for example, will get them fired in most jobs.

    And stuff that is “oh, bullying, you covered your face so you’re expelled for just as long, if not longer because they’ve got registered Issues” in adult life will put the assailant in jail.

    January 12, 2018
    • Mary #

      “You don’t try hard enough to get along with the other kids, so we are punishing you, not them, for their attack on you.”

      January 12, 2018
      • “Does not play well with others.”
        “Fine, YOU go play ball with ’em– you’re the soccer ball!”

        January 12, 2018
      • Exactly what a principal told me about being cornered and groped several times by groups of 10+ guys. “Didn’t you think they’re just tryin’ to be friendly? Have you tried bein’ friendly back?” My thought was they’d be reaching for my hand, not my chest, if they were just being friendly.

        January 13, 2018
        • And I think of Why Commander Na Gael is Excused from Sensitivity Training fssr…

          January 13, 2018
        • *boggles* I would’ve be stabbing people by that point.

          January 13, 2018
          • Yep. There would have been at least people getting sent to the hospital, or body bags – because the molesters would escalate.

            January 13, 2018
            • Yes.

              My mom was almost run off the road, once— the police knew about it, but other than sitting on the umpty-some mile stretch of road, there was nothing they could do. (Large county, tiny population– they literally didn’t have the manpower to have one cop every five miles, much less in sight of each other, and “pickup that is more rust than paint” was also not helpful. She’s pretty sure it was unregistered.)

              So….mom’s dad loaned her a revolver…next time they did the “pull up beside the woman driving alone in her vehicle and try to force her off the road” thing, she pulled the revolver out of the seat and laid it across her arm, so the yahoo in the passenger seat got a really good look.

              Predictable result of them going off the road in the opposite direction.

              Per the cops, the problem suddenly stopped, too.

              If someone wants to initiate something against me that is bad enough to call the cops on? I’m going to be doing my damndest to make sure they want them called.
              Sure, I’ll mostly fail, especially if someone is actually experienced. But the fact of trying raises the price.

              January 13, 2018
    • Draven #

      See, I’m absolutely convinced that this is the source of the anti-self defense attitude. Or they both spring from the same source.

      January 13, 2018
      • I think shared source.

        Specifically, making complicated things simple.

        January 13, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        I think Hollywood promotes anti-self defense because Hollywood is full of predators, their enablers, and their victims. The predators are very interested in being in charge, and the victims already have dysfunctional protective behaviors.

        January 13, 2018
        • Draven #

          a major irritant in the CA attitude to me was that we are simultaneously supposed to depend on the police to protect us and also not trust the police for anything because they are all brutal thugs.

          January 13, 2018
  5. So I go to read the Nutall link on Amazing Stories, and at the top of the page I’m greeted by a permanent ad banner for “Brianna Wu for Congress 2018”. Er, NO. Have you ever seen Wu apparently off the schizo meds? Quite enlightening.

    January 12, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      I’m not sure if I would mind if Wu replaced Pelosi.

      January 12, 2018
      • Could we replace both of them with some less obnoxious? Say, a moldy green tuna sandwich, perhaps?

        January 13, 2018
        • BobtheRegisterredFool #

          Manning has applied to run for Senate in 2018.

          January 13, 2018
          • Joe in PNG #

            But against a Dem incumbent. That will not end well for our trans traitor.

            January 13, 2018
            • Draven #

              who couldn’t get any choice committee assignments anyway…

              January 13, 2018
    • As I said Elsewhere, Amazing Stories is the perfect example of the fourth step of David “Iowahawk” Burge’s Law of Institutional Liberalization:
      1. Identify a respected institution.
      2. Kill it.
      3. Gut it.
      4. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

      In this case, the skinsuit is the trademark of the once respected pulp magazine.

      January 13, 2018
      • *giggles* The first I heard of this was at Larry’s – and his reaction more or less matched mine. “Yes please, let’s have an even bigger trainwreck of a campaign happen” – more or less.

        I think it’s a troll advert. “C’mon, let’s have MORE of GamerGate happen, yes yes yes yes-“

        January 13, 2018
  6. Draven #

    January 12, 2018
  7. After reading this article, I took a quick peek at CNN.com, Foxnews.com, and my Facebook feed, and I have good news! Geeks have taken over the entire world!

    January 12, 2018
    • Not really. Its just that now computers are in -everything-.

      To be a superior programmer, a touch of Aspergers is pretty much a requirement. The truly gifted computer people have more than just a touch. There are exceptions of course, but they prove the rule. The guy you want working on your multi-million dollar cloud system LOVES computers, and Normies really don’t love them.

      Large companies as I mention below are the Place Of Normies. They run by schmoozing, pecking order and so forth. They punish technical competence and reward social skillz. They employ nerds on sufferance, but they don’t like them.

      But, computers are in -everything-. An unhappy nerd in the basement of the IT department is a potential atom bomb waiting to go off. So they’ve been forced, pretty much at gunpoint, to finally, finally get off their high horses and accommodate nerds, geeks, the socially inept brainiacs who understand how all that expensive shit actually works.

      And they -hate- it!

      Because the problem Normies have with socially inept brainiacs is James Damore. That’s a typical situation where a guy who is MUCH smarter than the Normies looked at what they were doing and called bullshit upon them.

      Damore called out the whole Google diversity department for being a waste of time, money and effort, and also a potential threat to the company. He did it with a well reasoned, well researched, scientifically accurate memo. He was 100% right in all respects. As one would expect. Nerds are EXPERTS, they know EVERYTHING. That’s what makes them nerds. That’s why they work there in the first place.

      But, being a socially inept braniac, he thought that the Google management actually meant what they said about the google private network being a safe space for employees to voice their opinions. He did not understand that they were lying, and that the “safe space for opinions” actually meant “safe space for you to regurgitate the company opinion when called upon, otherwise SHUT UP!!! and get back to you cubicle, nerd!”

      So now Google, supposed home of geeks, is going to be subject to a potentially enterprise ending lawsuit for trying to make the geeks shut up and go along with a program that is self-evidently unscientific and possibly insane.

      Geeks have not taken over the world. But they have made a huge dent in the complacency of Corporate America, and they have managed to make themselves indispensable.

      January 14, 2018
      • Damore called out the whole Google diversity department for being a waste of time, money and effort, and also a potential threat to the company. He did it with a well reasoned, well researched, scientifically accurate memo. He was 100% right in all respects. As one would expect. Nerds are EXPERTS, they know EVERYTHING. That’s what makes them nerds. That’s why they work there in the first place.

        Quibble:
        Nerds become experts in stuff before they’ll put themselves out there like that– it’s part of why they’re such a pain to argue with, and why in the rare times one is wrong, it’s a royal pain to get them to agree– because they did the research. Sometimes, if not too much of their own judgement was used, you can painlessly get them to agree the prior conclusion was wrong by giving them missing information, or correcting prior false information.

        See also, “I can’t talk with you, you NEVER admit that you’re wrong!” conversations, which usually make me want to yell back “You never bother to try to PROVE it, you just say I’m a terrible person because you’re wrong!”

        January 14, 2018
  8. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Lost a friend a few years back when he said on FB that “conservatives can’t be geeks”.

    Oh. Okay then.

    January 12, 2018
    • Draven #

      yeah i remember when that went around. I wanted to just respond ” because geeks can’t possibly do the math and see that socialism doesn’t work…”

      January 12, 2018
    • I suspect many if not most geeks are conservatives. Ponder: In group projects, who slacks and who does the damn work?

      January 13, 2018
      • Terry Sanders #

        Silly minotaur. Credit is for cool kids.

        The geeks do the work. The cool kids let them, then casually take the credit, as is their right.. The teachers permit–nay, encourage this. And both the teachers and the cool kids are part of The Way Things Are.

        Many, if not most, geeks don’t see the group dynamics. They see (if you’ll pardon the expression) the Establishment keeping them down. And anything that will push those smug b******s aside sounds good to them. Thus the total lack of critical judgment applied to things like socialism.

        January 14, 2018
    • I’ve been known to be a little bit nasty when folks push that one too hard. 😦
      Just because high IQ and low common sense is standard doesn’t mean it’s the only option.

      January 13, 2018
      • (For those wondering, yes– that usually does result in them calling me an idiot. At which point I ask if they really thing the Navy recruits stupid people for nukes. At which point they get really mad…..)

        January 13, 2018
  9. The funny thing that SJW’s have caused is for geeks of differing political opinions (but who agree about defending their common hobby from the locusts) to join forces, when they might otherwise have remained separate.

    January 13, 2018
  10. Luke #

    The article really doesn’t strike a chord with me.
    Of course, I always averred that I was a nerd, not a geek.
    Number 3 strikes me as particularly laughable. The way to get better at nearly anything is to practice doing it. This includes fighting. It always puzzled me that wannabe bullies didn’t grok that truth at a fundamental level.
    Sure, I was a nerd. I’d also been in more fights than just about anybody in the school, and won nearly all of them (career record 18-1-1). Picking a fight with me to improve your social standing was a sucker’s bet. There were, of course, still suckers. But suckers rank below “socially awkward kids with oddball hobbies” in the social hierarchy.

    I did always wonder why some of my friends put up with absolutely toxic people in their gaming groups. And why they looked at me in horror when I made the obvious suggestion. (And thought they were doing the guy a favor by enabling his behavior.)

    January 13, 2018
    • There’s a common response in some sub-cultures to shelter “problem” people in order to protect the larger sub-culture. “He’s/ She’s a b-stard, but she’s a gamer/into BDSM/LARPs/whatever and so we’ll put up with her/him.” I’ve seen it called a mild version of the “broken stair problem” – there’s a dangerous, broken tread on the staircase, but since everyone knows about it, and avoids it, they don’t bother to warn new people or visitors.

      January 13, 2018
      • Broken stair – the first time I read that, it was in relation to a BSDM group quietly refusing to report a rapist who refused to listen or heed safewords because it threatened their group with investigation, and ‘the normies would never understand.’

        January 13, 2018
        • On the other hand, BDSM organizations WILL blackball you and gossip behind your back to undermine you if you are a Conservative.

          January 13, 2018
          • Natch. Because somehow, Conservatives are more dangerous than rapists in a community where you’re very often alone with the partner you’re laying a massive shitload of trust on…especially in a lifestyle that involves restraints and gags as part of the kink.

            Yeah. Okay. That makes so much sense. Not.

            January 14, 2018
            • Oh, it’s not that. But you see, Conservatives are EEEVIL and INTOLERANT and they hate gays and trannies and all that shit that the BDSM community is expected to support. Plus male Subs are a dime a dozen because they are so common, and Male Doms are horrible, misogynists and represent the patriarchy. But they ARE having an event on Saturday for Women and Women-identified people.

              January 14, 2018
        • The only way that could possibly be acceptable would be if some of the gentlemen in the group were about to pay a visit to the fellow, bearing tire irons and crowbars.
          Given, however, that such was almost certainly not the case, one can only conclude that not only were they slightly evil, but also stupid. Cover-up plus crime always works out worse for the group when discovered than just the crime.

          January 14, 2018
          • Dorothy Grant #

            Not to mention that the “We’re not like your stereotype of us!” protests don’t work too well when it comes out that they were, by protecting their wrongdoers, condoning exactly that stereotype.

            January 14, 2018
        • Why doesn’t that guy get taken to the parking lot by somebody’s boyfriend?

          This is the problem I have with all of these stories, and probably why I’m not in any groups. I would -definitely- haul that guy off, but no one else ever seems to, and these situations where “everybody knows” seem to linger on for years and years…

          Clearly there is some “group” rule thing that no one ever says, that I simply don’t get. And they don’t say it because they know I’d laugh and then walk out.

          January 14, 2018
          • Hard-core predators are usually pretty intelligent about recognizing risks and avoiding them.

            It’s part of why career criminals get so pissed when someone turns out to be able to defend themselves, when they “shouldn’t” have been able to.

            January 14, 2018
  11. No. 2 rapidly moves from “Authority is useless” to “Authority is EVIL.” when they punish those who bring the problems to light rather than those causing the problems.

    January 13, 2018
  12. My early teen years were pure hell, right up until a mental and emotional light bulb went on, and I realized that I was contributing a lot to my own problems.

    First step to recovering my humanity, without sacrificing my nerd interests? Learning to take a joke. Second step? Deciphering the “code” of young male interactivity, such that I wasn’t treating everything like a personal attack.

    Voila! Life got better. Many, many more friends. Some of them friends I’ve kept to this day. Good people, every single one. Plus, I had a new level of self-awareness such that I could see the self-pity party of my 12-14 year old zone, for what it was.

    “Pouty isolated emo dork” is not a brilliant way to travel through this world. Which is why I don’t understand younger generation(s) who have elevated Pouty Isolated Emo Dork, and made it into some kind of sacrosanct identity.

    Dear kids: get over yourselves. You will be far, far happier. Trust me. I know from experience.

    January 13, 2018
    • Yeah, this is true. Once I learned to jest, things became easier.

      But let’s be real here. There are people who are genuine jerks who use the somewhat rough-and-tumble interactions common among men as cover.

      January 13, 2018
    • Luke #

      Preach.

      I thought about bringing up the “might as well join the football team” aside in one of the referenced essays. Like the writer couldn’t even conceive of a nerd being friends with someone on the football team. To note the obvious, it happens all the time. And quite often, there are nerds on the football team.
      Self isolating yourself in a ghetto is ridiculous and self-destructive.

      January 13, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        In fairness, the nature of the football team may vary from school to school. Assumptions about the football team may be more justified if one went to a school where the team was a political exercise that sorted for certain personality types.

        January 13, 2018
        • Joe in PNG #

          My school was rather odd in that while jocks played football and basketball, and the nerds & geeks ran cross-country and played soccer, pretty much both groups were on the track team. The jocks had to be involved in a spring sport if they wanted to play football (and the football coach coached track), and the nerds & geeks wanted an easy athletic credit for college.
          So, we really didn’t have the traditional caste structure, which was fine by me.

          January 13, 2018
      • Terry Sanders #

        I joined the football team for precisely that reason. I figured if I didn’t learn how to deal with it now, I never would. It half-worked–I functioned, more or less.

        Years later, in college, I decided to finish the job. It took a year or two, but I reached the point that most people thought I had always been this polite, understanding gentleman. I keep wanting to laugh.

        My standard line is, “I learned tact as a foreign language.” People think it’s a joke.

        January 13, 2018
        • The best jokes are funny because they’re true. I learned body language the same way.

          January 15, 2018
    • Joe in PNG #

      Amen, brother.
      One lesson I had to learn was “Polite Interest- how to recognize it, and how to display it”.
      It’s a tough thing for people on the spectrum. A polite inquiry is not permission to go into some depth about your fan theories regarding your favorite anime. Nor should you shut others down when they talk about something you find boring.

      January 13, 2018
    • I can’t imagine my family putting up with the emo thing…they were more upset by my not having friend my age than I was. 😀

      I only cared when things go into the “trying to get someone hurt” zone, or the whole usually-really-poorly-planned attempts at public humiliation.

      Didn’t really realize there was an option to “mostly only talk to people online, most adults act like you have six heads if you speak politely and look them in the eye” thing until several years later when I found my geek groups in the Navy, and later my mom’s reaction when she’d talk about some outrage or other that someone’s kid had had happen and I’d look at her and want to know if that was it, didn’t she realize that had been pretty normal.
      (He didn’t have a scary mother, so it escalated to his head being slammed in a car door by the lead football player, because the moron couldn’t figure out that he’d given a girl a ride to school because she is his first cousin. Didn’t got to the hospital because said girl was hanging off of his neck trying to drag him off. No, the police did not get involved, and I am STILL pissed about that.)

      January 13, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        I may have gotten some of my socialization from internet flame wars. Which was probably better for me than the alternative, considering that Baen’s Bar isn’t exactly the roughest place on the internet.

        January 13, 2018
        • Yahoo’s Star Trek message boards– not a lot of flaming, re-enforced the idea that REASONABLE people could argue like cats and dogs– but get along. I knew that from my family, but the other outside sources…disagreement was death.

          I know which ones are healthier!

          January 13, 2018
  13. ” They’re the ones who get picked on by everyone else,” I was never helpless I let the cheerleaders copy my homework and they sat in a ring around me during tests. If the jocks wanted a social life after school they left me alone 😉

    January 14, 2018
  14. “1) The vast majority will pick on you if you give them the slightest excuse. Or even if you don’t.”

    Yep.

    “2) Authority is useless, either heedless of your complaints or more inclined to punish you for being bullied than punishing the bullies.”

    Double yep.

    “3) You are helpless. Resistance is futile.”

    Yep. Until the middle of high school. At some point they stop pushing you around (too scary!) and settle for merely ostracizing you. Which is an improvement.

    “4) It’s not WHAT you do that matters, it’s WHO you are.”

    Oh, absolutely.

    Now, with age comes learning, and one does eventually, with repetition, come to understand that some of the above is your own fault, and if you just shut up and withhold your opinion, and your joy (people hate it!) then you will do a lot better.

    Also, assiduous study and years of effort renders Number Three false. When you’re a kid your are helpless. As an adult you are profoundly the reverse. Learning the rules of self defense -also- includes learning to use authority to your own benefit. Sometimes that takes some planning and sometimes you have to outright scam them, but with enough social/legal Judo you can force them to do their jobs.

    If you are a geek professional in medicine, or these days in engineering, computer science etc. you have to be prepared for combat on one battlefield or another pretty much all the time. Corporate America/Canada is for Normies.

    So, you become the boss yourself. Then -you- set the rules. Self employment, young geeks! The ultimate kung fu.

    January 14, 2018
  15. I’ve never done anything ‘the normal way’ in my life. As a lifetime Geek i’ve read the books, enjoyed the comics and movies, binge watched 1950s SciFi movies, remember the original Dr Who episodes shown here in the US, and attended cons while the main attractions were still filming new episodes. Heckfire, I had my AV card in 4th grade, certified on everything in the AV Room too.

    OTOH, I also had some skills at music and athletics that brought me into more socialization than my Geek interests would have achieved alone.

    Mostly I used those contacts to bring Geek friends to the party and have people get to know them.

    It must have paid off, and there must have been dozens of others dragging their Geek friends out of basements and into the discussion, because as a Substitute Teacher I see Honest to Goodness Real Geeks lauded for their intelligence, skills, and enthusiasm by other students.

    Just like in the wish fulfilment movies about Geeks Making Good… it’s almost cool to be Geek.

    I’ve seen football stars admitting they have seen all the episodes of their favorite cult SciFi show, cheerleaders discussing gaming, and Geeks being asked how to make tech things happen by The Popular Kids.

    Bullies are still bullies, and spending every free moment in front of a computer screen still fails to develop rock hard abs… but it’s so much better for Geeks today than 50 years back.

    They (we) are less likely to be abused by bullies, and more likely to be asked for help by a cute member of the interesting sex than ever before

    Maybe I picked just the right place to settle but, watching four full classes go from freshman to graduation here, my favorite students are Geeks, and they’re doing pretty well these days.

    January 17, 2018

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Fear and Loathing: Geeks and Social Justice Warriors (Pt. 2) by Jacob Lloyd | Mad Genius Club
  2. An Analysis of Geekdom – Content Blues

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