We are in a golden era of geek culture. Our movies are killing it in the box officeâ€”Avengers, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc, and they are some of the most popular shows on TV, like SHIELD, Agent Carter, Gotham, Supergirl, Flash, Green Arrow, etc.
Geeky things are now the mainstream.
It wasn’t always that way. While growing up my love for comics, fantasy, and scifi made me an outsider against my will. My peers ostracized me with verbal abuse daily and every so often it turned physical. And while the physical wounds have healed the verbal ones echo every now and again. My only solace was to dive deeper into my geek worlds.
The few friends that I had were forced outsiders like me and we bonded over Dungeons & Dragons, X-men, and really shitty comic book movies. (If I had a time machine I would go back and tell myself OH YOU JUST WAIT FOR THE AVENGERS.) We argued and debated and shared our love for all things geeky. Our late Saturday nights were spent drinking soda waiting for SNL to finish so that we could watch Star Trek reruns until 5am while making our own comic books.
I don’t tell you this for sympathy. I carry scars but I’m over it because I have more important things to do. So why tell you this? It is because in my experience most of the “true geeks” I see around the internet have some of the painful elements of this story in their own past.
Not sure what a “true geek” is and want to recognize it in the wild? It’s a person who feels that because they watched Star Trek: The Next Generation when it originally aired or that they’ve been reading X-men for more than a decade that they are somehow “better fans” than newcomers. They’ve paid their dues and until you pay them, until you suffer, you can never be a “true fan”.
These folks go on rants about how you don’t understand what [geek cultural icon] is “because you weren’t there” or “you haven’t put in the time”. These people push away the new fans.
Who cares if your introduction to Dungeons & Dragons was fourth edition or that your favorite Star Wars movies are the prequels? Love the things that you love. I welcome you to the fold. With open arms. And opinions, because, well, I want to be your sherpa and I’ve wandered this mountain for a while, so let me show you around.
I’m so happy that every day more people are becoming fans of the things that I’ve loved for decades. Is it fair that they get to join the party late with their Captain America shirt and newfound love for comic books?
YES. Dear god, YES.
Welcome everyone into the fold.
I love the things that I love because they are awesome and I want to share that with everyone. My heart swells every time that I think about how I introduced my wife to Star Trek and now we have debates over the kitchen table over who our favorite characters are (while simultaneously agreeing that Enterprise‘s opening scene was THE WORST.)
And I go to gaming conventions to run games for new players so that they see the magic that I do when I say “roll initiative, the orcs are revolting” and we all laugh because orcs are ugly and stupid and revolting has two meaning and then the person who just sat down is playing an orc as their character and well, we all just have fun with it.
So the short version of all of this is that if you find yourself trying to qualify whether or not someone has the right amount of geek cred, just stop. Take a deep breath, offer to share your favorite things about what they’ve discovered, and make a new friend.