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LJ Idol 9, Week 7: No True Scotsman

“And you call yourself a geek.”

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do, and I don’t need your permission to do so, no matter how many movie quotes I fail to recognize, or what my geek number is (pretty low, actually).

The thing is, no one can tell you what you are or aren’t.

For years, I didn’t consider myself a gamer, even though I spent a significant amount of my free time playing computer games. But I wasn’t a gamer the way my brother was a gamer; I played a combination of casual games and more “hardcore” games, and never played the newest games, because my computer was always too outdated for them (still is). I’ve always been more than a casual gamer, but less than a hardcore gamer, and I didn’t/don’t have a good name for what kind of gamer I was, so I didn’t make it part of my identity. Then I had a friend in college who found out I liked computer/video games, and insisted that I was, in fact, a gamer. I immediately resisted the label (labels are dumb, anyway), explaining all the above reasons ad nauseum, but he didn’t care.

I now occasionally call myself a gamer, but I still don’t really think of myself as a gamer. Gaming is an important part of my geek identity, but it’s not an identity I claim in its own right; it’s more like a convenient shorthand (which is really what a lot of labels boil down to in the end, isn’t it?). But what’s crucial here is not whether I meet some sort of gamer qualification, or whether merely playing games, of any type, regularly as a hobby makes me a gamer, it’s whether I choose that identity for myself. My college friend couldn’t force it on me, however hard he tried, though he did make me think more about how and why I choose my identities, and that's a valuable thing.

So, I’m a geek, right? At least, I claim a geek identity. To a certain extent, contrary to what I just said, this was initially forced on me. I was a nerd because my classmates said so, because I liked weird things, and I wasn’t very good at social interaction. But now there’s a whole community of people who not only have a shared experience of *cough* mean kids looking down at them for liking sci-fi, or Dungeons and Dragons, or whatever. They also have those interests in common that were once so different.

I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, especially fantasy. But it took me something like five years to finish the Lord of the Rings because it bored me to tears. I’m not especially into superhero comics. I didn’t get into D&D until adulthood, but I love it now. I cut my teeth on Star Trek: TOS reruns. I’ve never watched the updated Battlestar Galactica.

I’m not trying to board the Geek Train because it’s suddenly become cool to be a geek. I genuinely like a lot of geeky things. Not all of them, and I make no bones about that. My brother (who frequently questions my Geek Cred) and I had a discussion about the aforementioned “geek number” thing and its limitations. If you take the quiz, it asks things like (I’m paraphrasing, forgive me) “Have you seen all of [insert Geeky TV Show here].” What, because I kind of lost interest in Star Trek: DS9 after a few seasons, I’m not geeky enough? I actually enjoyed Voyager a lot, but I still didn’t see all of it. While we’re at it, a lot (A LOT) of Star Trek fans disliked Voyager, and look down on fans who like it.

Whose standards shall we judge by?


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2014 02:22 am (UTC)
Gah, the geek cred issue. I've mostly been able to avoid it, because the people I'm normally around on the geeky spectrum are all more interested in having someone else to squee with than gatekeeping, but it is such an impossible thing. Because the second you meet the gatekeeper's initial standard, they'll raise it. The point isn't to actually understand other geek's likes/reference points, it's to make sure that no one that isn't already in the inner circle gets in.

And then they wonder why no one else is a geek like them, and why the world is against them. Huh.

Apr. 29th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
I love Star Trek (and have watched every episode of every series, even the abysmal Enterprise). Don't care much for Star Wars, although I'd probably still be a fan if it had stuck with the original trilogy. Tolkien bores me. I don't read comics. There are a few games I have played the hell out of, but I'm not much of a gamer overall and I'm horrible at first-person shooters.

Buffy, yes. Firefly, yes. Doctor Who, don't care. Walking Dead, don't care. Zombies in general--oh god, can we please move on to the next trend already?

I'm a programmer. Some of my best friends live in the computer (well, okay, they aren't really in the computer).

People questioning other people's geek cred is just... WHY.
Apr. 29th, 2014 03:33 am (UTC)
You're you. I like how you explained all of this. I think you can be whatever you choose to call yourself :)
Apr. 29th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
It's an interesting take..people call me nerd too..:P..to each their own I guess!
Apr. 29th, 2014 08:25 pm (UTC)
This was interesting-- I took the quiz, and scored a low 36, but I noticed right away that the first 50+ questions all seemed to be related to comic books, ALL of which are a "meh" for me. They're more "meh" for women in general than men! I'm too late for the video game generation, and just couldn't slog through LOTR, but I enjoyed the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy (not even on the list!), Madeleine L'Engle, Ursula K. LeGuin, and bunches of other unlisted authors.

Plus, I balked at the "Have you seen all of the Star Wars movies?" because I've seen the three "real" movies, but not the three crappy recent movies. So am I geekier for rejecting the later ones, or geekier for not having seen All Of Them Because?

It's all a matter of taste, and I think too much of our time is spent telling other people how they don't measure up to someone else's arbitrary (and not-truly-significant) standards.
Apr. 30th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
Yes, this exactly. I'm not really a "gamer" geek, I'm more the SciFi geek, but I can't give you tons of details or answer trivia questions, because I'm not good at retaining all the little piddly details. To each their own!
Apr. 30th, 2014 11:09 am (UTC)
Oh, I love this.
I am the same about all of my fandoms, really. While I know I belong to them, there is not one where I have watched or read even all of the "canon", let alone the extras and the fanish "musts". Which changes nothing.
May. 1st, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
Haha, I've jokingly asked people for their greek cred, but I've never actually told them they weren't geeky enough :P Cute entry.
May. 1st, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
I kind of wonder if it isn't more geeky to like the non-mainstream stuff. But that would really just be another label, and honestly, if someone identifies as a geek, they're a geek. We don't really need anything else.
May. 1st, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Absolutely adored this!
May. 1st, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
OMG, honey, you and me both! I’ve so hated having to defend my “geekness” factor because I’m told I’m too “Cool.” (Do people saying that not realize they’ve just INSULTED geeks?) I scored over well over 100 on the test you linked here, but, I’ve actually also taken 500 point tests where I score over 300, and have even written a rubric style test of my own. (Yes, I’m also a NERD.) This is great... thanks so much for sharing! (Also, I’m friending you for this... we Geeks have to stick together... I run a social circle for over 700 of us!)
May. 2nd, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
Hah, I have sooo much in common with you. At least you managed to get through the LOTR books. It didn't take me 5 years, but I had to quit in the middle of the third one because I couldn't take it anymore.

DS9 was my favorite Trek, but I was super into Voyager too and it is true with how many fans look down on Voyager D:. My geek number would probably be really low too. I'm not into any kind of comic books at all, or D n D, which is where a lot of those questions are based on...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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