Published in the Spring 2007 issue • Geek Chic
Who was that masked mechanatrix?
It’s time to unleash your inner geek
Continued from page 1
Thus, geekhood is not about technology alone. I like to think it has its roots in something truer, deeper and more complex: the vision that we can make the world a better place, and the passion to pursue that vision with vigour and clarity of purpose. For what is “geek” if not an unquenchable thirst for perfection? What is a gadget, or even a computer, if not a shortcut on the path toward accomplishment? If guided by goodwill and a sense of social justice rather than a drive for profit, this road could lead us to a world where there is less hunger, no privation and no disease; a world where we find balance with nature and time to pursue the mystic higher reaches of our minds’ potential. The eyes of a geek are locked on this world.
To be a true geek is also, therefore, to have a dauntless idealism. There is another subculture famous for this, one that is similarly mocked: the hippies of the 1960s (though she might not admit it, my mother still owns a pair of beaded leather moccasins).
There is a kinship between geeks and hippies that often goes unrecognized. Once, while walking to class with my college boyfriend (local alpha geek), I was stopped by a puzzlingly exuberant security guard, who swore we were the spitting image of Janis Joplin and Paul McCartney. Aside from our long hair and my green peasant shirt, we weren’t, and were quite confused, touched also with the irritation that comes from being assigned to the wrong subculture. (Don’t get me wrong, I love hippies, but I owned a Starbucks Visa at the time, a fact that probably forever disqualified me from true hippiedom.)
If you ask the average geek, you’ll probably find that my experience was not uncommon, especially for the bearded and long-haired male set. See, geeks haven’t really established visual recognition in the social sphere. (Most normals probably picture characters from The Matrix at the mention of the word geek, but no geek I know is so obsessive about their wardrobe or appearance; leather trench coats are great and all, but who can justify the expense when the World of Warcraft expansion is so shortly forthcoming?) It’s easy to mistake geeks for hippies — and not just on the street.
Ask them, and you’ll find that most geeks cherish the environment, resent the Establishment and boast eclectic tastes in music. In the great social taxonomy, geeks and hippies are common descendants, for they share a philosophical vision. And vision is what geekdom is all about. No wonder that, when she did enter the corporate domain, my mother gravitated toward technology, which she believed would deliver our dreams of utopia. In her path, she has been a pioneer: professional, visionary, technophile, as well as mother, daughter and friend.
And so I close with the suggestion that there is a little geek in all of us, and women should proudly shed their camouflage. Deeper within the realms of gadgetry and efficiency, previously perceived to be the domain of masculinity, we can aim for a higher ideal: elegance, symmetry, intricacy. Geek is sleek and sexy in our present age, and thus we will see more women, as Nietzsche might say, becoming who they are, led by pioneers who expressed these aspects of their personality bravely when society found them distasteful. As with all such things, they did so because
they knew it was right. Onward, good companions, to a bright future!
Erin Hoffman is a freelance author and video game designer. She lives in Troy, New York, with a small cadre of parrots, surreptitiously plotting world domination. Her work has appeared in print anthologies and online with The Escapist, Gamasutra and others. Visit her website at www.gryphonflight.com.