Sunday, August 12, 2007

being a "geek" and its evolution...

well, i am a geek and i'm proud of it.  but what does that mean? what is the definition of geek these days?

the term/word "geek" has gone quite a few major changes/definitions in the past 20 years.  like most language/words, they evolve as we evolve and their defintions can change drastically to the point that the context in which they are used can be flip-flopped from say a decade prior. 

merriam-webster currently give the following definitions for the word "geek"
Main Entry: geek
Pronunciation: \ˈgēk\
Function: noun
Etymology: probably from English dialect geek, geck fool, from Low German geck, from Middle Low German
Date: 1914
1 : a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2 : a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3 : an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity


while, American Heritage defines the word "geek" as:
NOUN: Slang 1a. A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy. b. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept. 2. A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken

both definitions originally referred to circus/carnival performers who did bizarre acts and both refer to a person who is in a sense socially lacking but experience in a tech field.

from my personal experiences, the words geek and nerd in the 1980s were referred to kids/people that were very smart but socially inept.  it was considered to be an insult to call someone a geek or nerd.  kids that excelled in band, choir, arts, computers/electronics, mathematics and english were usually referred to as a band geek or nerd, etc; the word usually always was used in a derogatory context.

the 1990s also seemed to hold the same/similar type of negative context associated with it.  no one was really proud to be a geek or nerd; those that could find peers that held similar tags could be proud of the label/tag but those that did lack the social skills held the label/tag as an insult, 'slam'. however, the late 90s really started to change how people perceived the term "geek".

the dotcom era and introduction of the www web to the mainstream public helped shift the term's context to a more positive, elite term.  geeks were starting to become a vital part of the digital/electronic world since they understood how they worked.  they had a one-up on most non 'geeks' in that they could build their own computers, fix them on their own, and became more popular in most social groups since most people were starting to get their own pc and didn't have the time or interest to really understand how they worked. 

jump to 2007, the word "geek" now is a true elite tag.  i am a geek and i am proud to be a geek.  when my pals refer to me as a computer/gadget geek, they are not putting me down but letting others know that i know my shit.  i'm elite (or so i'd like to think.. hehe) and know more than the average 'joe/jane'.  

my definition for the term "geek" would be the following:
1.  An individual that excels in the understanding of electronic/digital hardware and software.  2.  One who has a passion for technology.  3.  One who is an expert in his/her field of work.

plus, us socially adept geeks may end up ruling the world since we can not only hack our gadgets but also people. :)  watch out world, the rule of the geek has begun! hehe

thats all for now, peace

ps  this blog post was not based on any real facts minus the actual definitions from merriam webster and american heritage.  these are my personal thoughts on the term 'geek' and its perception by society based on personal experiences and situations. phew, i sounded smart for a second, hehe.  btw, i was in band and choir as a kid, took computer classes in summer, and love computers/electronics.