The new state of geek chic?

Would you date this man?
Would you date a 36 year old divorcee who is a left-leaning feminist and self confessed geek? If so you should contact me

I subscribe to being a geek and not a nerd or a dork. I’ve written about nerd values in the past (which I obviously say is geek values now)

In work I’ve been having this ongoing discussion about not wanting to be rich and famous just making the world a little bit better a place to live. Its easy to be singled minded and follow the money where it leads, but the harder thing is to live in your means and try and make the world a little better.

Some have boiled this down to, Do what you love, love what you do. Which is a nice but feels a little generic?

So rethinking this… I’ve started to add to this by describing the geek chic/lifestyle as…

Always living life, always learning and always on the go.

This seems to fit well no matter your siltation.

  • Always living life, can be anything from climbing a mountain, soaking up the atmosphere around you, helping others, what ever; as long as you are living life and pushing yourself, living in the moment and enjoying it.
  • Always learning, is a hat tip, full head nod (or heck a dab if your into that) for lifelong learning. Never too old to learn and if you are not learning then what are you doing? That is unless you are educating/helping others, although the act of helping others is a learning experience too.
  • Always on the go, doesn’t necessarily mean going physical places. It can mean other types of progress like reaching out to more people with works, getting ahead in your career, etc. Getting mentally ahead and never settling unless you are ready for it.

Some dream shouldn’t be followed

Banksy - Follow Your Dreams // Cancelled

I only recently discovered Mark Manson. I’m sure theres quite a few of you guys who will be thinking geez I’ve been reading his stuff for ages. But I can’t even remember how I came across him. One of a whole load of posts he wrote is the controversial “Why Some Dreams Should Not Be Pursued.

Mark breaks it down with decent examples and some deep thoughts behind it and the self help industry.

We are all beaten over the head that we should always pursue our dreams, always follow our passions, always turn reality into what we believe will make us happy. Most marketing and advertising is based on this. The majority of the self help industry pushes this. And with the rise of Tim Ferriss and “lifestyle design” obsession of this generation, it has become a borderline religion…

I know what he means, the lifestyle business has grown and grown.

There is this conflict I have in my mind. Its a conflict between community (doing what people think you should do) and individualism (doing what your dreams says). I don’t buy all this self help crap but I do want to be happy (heck who doesn’t want to be happy?). When I say happy I don’t mean this crazy Hollywood style happiness you see on TV or they shovel down your throat any chance they can. Be Happy / Buy are shit… Roll the Fight club ikea montage.

Back to Mark…

But it’s not just materialism, the “follow you dreams” mentality dominates our relationships as well. It’s only in the last couple centuries that romantic love has been championed as the sole prerequisite for a happy relationship.

Lonely? Just fall in love and then live happily ever after! Duh.

It’s reached the point where practically all of our pop culture is based upon the idea that romantic love is a justification for just about any neurotic behaviour.

Another conflict… (damm Mark is right on the buzzer) My dating… I enjoy it but I do want to find someone special. When I say special I don’t mean perfection, I mean someone I would spend the rest of my known life with. Its important to me (yeah how selfish of me) but having gone through a divorce, I’m not a believer in there’s one person for everyone (something which the media seems to push down our throats). So on an individual level someone who connects with myself. Don’t get me wrong I do sometimes think about what it would be like to have someone very different (don’t ask, i’m not telling)

Some friends say why go out dating, if you just leave it it will happen. I say balls, and I actually kinda of enjoy it. As a friend who turns out reads my blog said, Its part of you… When she said this, I was kinda of thinking maybe shes got a point. I like meeting new people and enjoy dating, so it works. From an individual level again, its all good times. From a community point of view its a little different.

Maybe this is another reason why I’m writing this book, the life & opinions of a modern geeky gentleman… Putting the dream aspect on paper rather than in reality.

Mark’s example of the young woman from New York City who had the recurring sexual fantasy was certainly the icing on the argument. Some of our dreams should never happen and its really important to remember this (this story has to be read as its not very safe for work).

Losing control in reality is dangerous. Despite how arousing it may be, one could get hurt or killed. It’s only possible to lose control and stay safe within the confines of one’s own mind.

The reason not every fantasy should be pursued is because fantasies never have negative repercussions. Reality does. You’re able to feel fear and terror without ever actually being in danger. You can feel excitement and adrenaline without ever actually risking anything. You can experience the joy and pride of a great success without actually suffering through the hard work.

Absolutely! I wanted to be big name DJ many decades ago. Traveling the world playing the music I love and being paid for it. I guess its like the rockstar thing Mark talks about. But it was about 16 when I realised the reality of the pursuing such a dream. The daily drudgery, playing in crap venues, playing crowd pleasing tunes just to make it up the DJ ladder. Screw that…! As Mark says I might have been in love with the result not the process. Seriously settling down and getting into the internet was one of the best moves I’ve done.

I don’t like to climb. I just want to imagine the top

The process and the details is whats missing from our dreams. In actual fact thats the fun part… In my great BBC job, the details all matter and the result isn’t the be all and end all… But maybe somewhere in this messy post, I can mentally link my dating with the process and details.

Next time someone says just fall in love, maybe I should say… “don’t you see I’m in the process of doing so and loving it” *smile*

Maybe I’ve fallen in love with the process of falling in love, not the result and actually this is perfectly natural? (Don’t all scream at me at once…)

The rise of geekery in all shapes and forms

Every time you download music god kills a kitten

Just posted to Slashdot and Digg is ZDnet's The essence of a Geek by Matthew Broersma.

A general rise in technical literacy driven by gadgets such as the iPod could be evidence that 'geekery' as a personality trait is becoming more pervasive.

You're right about that, geek is no longer a bad thing. It's actually a very good thing to admit now. I bought a range of Tshirts from Jinx recently and I get tons of comments on them. The one which seems to get the most comments is the no one reads my blog one. The most interesting thing is actually who I get the comments from. As you'd expect most of my friends just laugh but I get really nice comments from non geeky people. Its actually tempting to buy more because their really nice on the skin and a good laugh. I mean who would have thought, Not even norton can protect you tshirt would raise a laugh from a very senior manager at the BBC?

Anyhow back to the article, before I start talking about the amount of recent interest from non geek people about setting up their own blogs. Some choice quotes…

For a few years, an interest in computers and technology became inextricable linked with wealth and power – geek became chic. Technology companies suddenly became the focus of the kind of attention that had been reserved for the music or fashion industries. In the UK TV makers even went so far as to create a hip series, Attachments, based around the antics of a tech start-up

Funny you mention Attachments, I was just talking about in this post about Geek sitcoms.

IT industry analyst James Governor of RedMonk, claims that while it may not yet be cool or trendy to admit, a degree of technical sophistication has become expected. He claims that increasingly, “we're all geeks” – even if a lot of people don't care to admit it.

To illustrate his point, Governor recalls a recent conversation involving his wife and some of her friends – mostly women who would probably describe themselves as non-techies. One of the women pulled out a new Windows Mobile smartphone while protesting that she wasn't “a geek”. Governor then politely enquired whether she had her email sychronised to the device – she did. This then initiated a conversation about mobile phone design – the last thing the technical analyst was expecting given the company. “You expect to have that kind of conversation with guys, but not with women,” Governor says.

Although I'll leave the obvious sexual stereotypes alone for now (the women I know are equally geeky and I'm sure to meet even more at the girl geekdinner), James is right. It still makes me smile when I hear non self described geeks friends talk about their mobile phone and it's features in a way which would be frowned upon by their peers if it was about a car. Geez even my mother was giving it the big geeky one about her next washing machine over christmas.

A recent survey by the Sci-Fi channel discovered that an increasing number of women could be included in the ranks of a new demographic it nick-named “New Geek”. The research revealed that a third of the UK's total 6.9 million geeks were actually female. “Whereas once geeks were seen as solitary, embarrassing and uncool, the statistics show that New Geek is chic, popular and hugely influential,” the researchers claimed.

Enough said really! Hey and lets not forget that third is growing all the time. Don't forget the findings of this survey recently.

Somewhere along the line, geek also seems to have lost most of its negative connotations — unlike nerd and anorak, which still tend to be used as insults. The word's reclamation was probably a more or less deliberate effort on the part of geeky technology types who began using it to refer to themselves, say some. “It's a taking-back-the-language thing,” says Jez Higgins, a freelance developer.

To some degree “geek” overlaps with “hacker”, a word used as a badge of honour to mean a particularly adept programmer, though “hacker” has some extra moral implications that “geek” lacks. Most would agree that Bill Gates is a geek, but few would class him as a hacker, due to the perecieved quality of his company's technology and his taste for world domination. “He doesn't have the hacker's ethos,” Higgins says.

Indeed, one of the best things a culture/movement/community can do is take back a negative word. Its what black rappers and gay people did in the 90's. I'm not saying taking back geek is on the same level but it shows a certain maturity in the culture that it's able to do that. Hence things like Geekdinner, Geekcamp, etc. I'm a self described geek and have been caught saying that x is so geek recently. Instead of that x is so cool. Geeking out is another word which use to be quite negative and now has been reclaimed as something good. Even Geekhag is a concious thought that being a non geek but hanging aroudn with geeks is a good thing. I expect that word to circulate more, and remember my wife was always a self described geek hag.

This shift isn't a one-way street, however — we may be coming to resemble geeks a bit more, but through the growing importance of design, technology is also changing to be a bit more human. Strangely enough, many have found the emerging crop of digital video recorders, such as Sky+, far easier to use than the traditional VCR. Gadgets such as the iPod employ complex technology — it's even possible to install Linux on one — but they employ very simple interfaces.

The iPod's success was crowned at the end of last year with designer Jonathan Ive receiving a CBE, and many see such products as the direction geek culture will take next. A new crop of influential programmers, such as 37 Signals' David Heinemeier Hansson or Ubuntu Linux's Mark Shuttleworth, are not even particularly geeky.

“These kinds of people are where the next great successes are coming from, they're great designers and great coders, and also uber-communicators,” says Governor. “Great design is a way to create huge new markets, and that is a lesson IT is learning.”

And a good point to end on. Geek isn't limited to IT. I can argue that Dj's, Designers, Chef's, etc are some of the most geeky people I know. The fact remains that being smart and knowing your stuff is now a good thing. And honestly thats a good thing. I just hope it translates down the line to children in school who sometimes act dumb with their peers so they can fit in (unless they are very strong willed). Can you just imagine a school where not know your stuff will turn you into a outcast? Yeah I can't quite see it yet. But hey I can dream…

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