What Happens when “geek” hits mainstream?

The new Miss USA comes out as a geek, and sends the world on its ear. “Oh god, she’s too pretty to be a geek.” Really? Or is she jumping on the bandwagon as others suggest? Some of the criticism is even coming from within our own geek culture! Is it hard for some of us to imagine that among the ranks of geeks and nerds, who stereotypically have been pictured as awkward less attractive individuals living in the basement, there are people who are simply coming out because they never wanted to be viewed as a geek because of the stigma?

If you grew up in the 80’s and were labeled ‘nerd’, were or are picked on for liking Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings, looked at funny as you walked up to the check-out counter of a toy store by yourself with several Transformers in hand, or made to throw away your Dungeons and Dragons books because they were called satanic, then you know what stigma I speak of. Even if you hid what you loved, you probably heard ridicule because of how you looked, walked, acted, spoke. You wear glasses to help your eyesight, and are scoffed at because of this. Kick me signs on the back, wedgies, dirt in the face, spit in your food. Coworkers talk behind your back because you come in on a day off with a Batman shirt on, have a few My Little Pony’s in your cubicle, or have that awesome FLCL wallpaper on your work PC.

Patton Oswalt wrote that geek culture needs to die in order to move forward. I say not necessarily. I’m one of those old school geeks who had to toss out D&D books cause of religious kooks, got picked on cause of looks, had to give away Star Wars and Transformers toys because I was “too old for them”. Now I live in a day and age when I see and hear about geek culture from all over the world. Social networking is a great tool for meeting people, much more evolved than old CRT telnet clients (yes, I said telnet, look it up if you are scratching your head), and allowed people from all over to connect.

So how does this relate to the idea that beautiful women have to prove their geek cred? In my eyes, they don’t! I learned from those who picked on me as a kid so many years ago to not have the same prejudice against others. Maybe some of them are pandering to geeks and nerds just to get our attention because they are sexy and attractive? Sure, every culture has those types. Give them your attention for a little while, then go back to your own thing. If they later turn their backs on geeks, did we lose anything? No. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this world who claim geek and/or nerd. Some keep it quiet, only to speak of it in confident circles and behind closed doors and computer screens. Others fly the flag with pride, whether that be the Autobot sticker on your car, the Stormtrooper armor you march in parades with, or the way you interject yourself into conversation when the topic of how good is “Game of Thrones” comes up.

My message is an obvious one. Be yourself. And that even goes to those ignite the fires of debate among us geeks. It’s fine to talk about and question others sometimes. Long as it’s not hurtful to either side. Some of your were in debate teams in school remember? Conversations about attractiveness and geek cred help keep our minds fresh, they bring out geeks who otherwise would not have a voice. I’m one of them. A year ago I would have never talked much about it. Now, I can’t wait to head out in the world, traveling to different conventions and events….and simply saying “Hello, how are ya today?” to all my fellow geeks and nerds.

We’re a culture, a family, a mighty force of nature. Stand tall, be proud, wear your geek on your shoulder and your nerd on your chest. Show respect to each other, raise your children with a bit of science and Spongebob. We are geeks. We are nerds. We are mighty!!