December 10, 2006

Geeks

I feel like I should blog something not MIT related, because beating dead horses is bad (I may come back and take a whack or two though). So, here's a copy of another paper I wrote for college writing, this time about "Geeks"

Geeks
People develop the traits they will maintain for much of their adult lives during their time in high school. As such, it is often times appropriate to use groups of students in high schools to generalize about an entire population. While most groups are understood for what they are, the high school geeks are often unfairly judged as social outcasts while they should be considered powerful tools. No longer the starched shirt, slicked hair, black dress shoe sporting, female repellers of old -- geeks have come a full π radians to take the high school culture by storm. Although many forms of geeks appear to exist, whether theater geeks or band geeks, in reality there is only one true form of geek. A true geek is something special, but often underappreciated, sometimes even labeled a “nerd”. Although they used to share similar definitions, the nerds have ceased to evolve to the highly advanced state the geeks have achieved.

Students who show a slight over-devotion towards a particular activity are often referred to as geeks. Spend every waking moment in a particular music room? Often found quoting Tolkien? Memorized the periodic table? All very impressive feats indeed, and performing such actions may get one labeled a geek, but only superficially. An often misleading definition of “geek” allows anybody who spends excessive amounts of time devoted to an activity to be a geek. This definition, therefore, allows multiple geek subsets. At first this may seem to bolster the way of the geek because there is power in numbers, but in reality it tarnishes the image of the geek. A real geek does not hear a perfect fifth or a minor third. A real geek doesn’t know Frodo’s middle name. A real geek doesn’t know the Latin name for iron. When copious amounts of individuals are all brought together under the label “geek”, chances are that some are social outcasts, stupid, or just plain irritating. One renegade from some geek subset can destroy the reputation of a true geek.

So what makes a true geek? The two most important aspects of a true geek are an interest in computers and math. If you know nothing about computers and/or math, you are not a geek. End of story. A true geek is the one that has no games on their calculator, only programs they wrote. A true geek is the one who not only can recite pi but can also derive it and explain why it is important. A true geek is the one who scoffs at school firewalls and simply uses a proxy to anonymize their IP address, or better yet, simply disables the firewall on the computer they happen to be using! Geeks can convert any situation into a joke about math, computers, or HTML. Geeks know what HTTP stands for, not just that it goes in front of Amazon in that little bar thing above where the pictures show up on that computer thing. Geeks interpret statements differently than non-geeks. For example, when a non-geek hears somebody say “I can’t find that sweater I want online!”, they think “That’s too bad, do you think they’ve tried ebay yet?”, whereas a geek hears “~~~~irritating noise~~~~” and then continues hacking away at websites that think they’re protected. Geeks know that the real 2 is 10. Geeks see a shape and can name the equation of the curve that matches the shape. Geeks know what happens on the last level of pacman. Geeks know what happens when “Hidden Test” is typed while playing pinball on Windows. Geeks know what the degauss button on the computer monitor does. Geeks understand the circle and line that appear on every power button ever created.

Geek or nerd? The easiest way to pick out the difference between a geek and a nerd is the outfit. A nerd’s shirt will be tucked in, their pants will be ironed, their hair will be slicked, and they will more than likely be walking with their head down to their next class, in rare occasions running and darting through the halls. Geeks, on the other hand, wear blue jeans, rarely ironed, and most likely tennis shoes. A geek’s t-shirt will often contain a math joke, computer joke, or some other type of humor that is unlikely to be understood by others. Nerds play Dungeons and Dragons, read fantasy books, think they know a lot, but never know when to say it. Nerds believe they are funny but oftentimes simply create awkward situations for themselves. Nerds have very little friends outside of their D&D groups and absolutely do not have a girlfriend. Geeks on the other hand, impress the opposite sex with their creative application of math and computer skills. They don’t waste time with foolish endeavors such as pretend and reading, instead preferring to find an interesting new website or some neat opensource code. Nerds never read the news online and don’t know what a blog is. Nerds have Myspaces in an attempt to gain friends. Geeks read blogs and publish their own as well. Geeks realize Myspace for what it truly is and constantly plot ways to bring it to its knees. A geek knows when to shut up, can tell good jokes, and is accepted by society as a powerful asset. A nerd is shunned, only to be called upon by the geeks to do the grunt work.

The next time somebody mentions offhand that somebody is a geek, do not take their word for it. Consider the context, is the person in question a geek or in a subset? Are they actually a nerd? Most importantly, do they have a girlfriend? Yes? Definitely not a nerd. Don’t casually throw around the word “geek” or “nerd”, you never know who you’ll insult.

11 comments:

Greg said...

lol

Kevin said...

Very true. I like how in depth you go into distinguishing the "geeks" from the "nerds". Although the geek description sounds oddly familiar...

Lawrence said...

I disagree with your usage of the term "Nerd" as opposed to "Geek". You claim that a geek is skilled with both computers and math, and is a socially adept person, while a nerd is not only socially inept, but intellectualy untalented and unskilled with computers.

From what I've heard, "geek" seems to be a more general term, at least in our local dialect, for anyone obsessively fascinated with any non-social pursuit, while "nerd" is more confined to acedemic or computer-based people. But if "Geek" is restricted specifically to intellectual, computer-knowlagable people, with no connotation of social ineptitude, then what do we call band geeks, Star Trek geeks, or theater geeks? Do we now call them nerds?

In my experience at least, I've come to see both Geek and Nerd as describing someone passionate about their personal pursuits, possibly at the expense of social interaction, but with nerd as a more focused term pertaining specifically to computer or math "nerds". Both could describe an intellectual and social person, like the "true Geek" you characterize. In my opinion, the greasy-haired, D&D-playing, Myspace-reading "nerd" you portray would better be described as a "Dork".

Perhaps one day, Geeks and Nerds will learn to live together in peace. Until then, I'll go see if any little people want to join my D&D group.
-A proud Nerd

Michelle said...

Ok, I'm glad "Lawrence" went ahead and said it, because if he hadn't, I would have said he was a nerd for sure. That was such a nerd response. Can there be girl geeks? Because it seems like a guy term, but I definitely would not be a nerd. Oh well, I'll just go with math-lover for now.

Andrew Dalton said...

Lawrence spelled knowledgeable incorrectly. Take that un-intellectual nerd!

margaret said...

Ha, well well well, guess what? I am actually not a "band geek", because apparently they don't exist...this changes everything!

Anonymous said...

u sent this geek essay to MIT?

Snively said...

@Anonymous

No, I didn't send it to MIT. College Writing is a class I took senior year.

Anonymous said...

oh!you answered!thanx!
So what were the broad topics of essays you sent to MIT?
i know you sent one about Loving your school i.e.-not missing any day....

Snively said...

I also wrote about living in the country and building a giant ballista that shoots water balloons.

somebody said...

酒店經紀人,菲梵酒店經紀,酒店經紀,禮服酒店上班,酒店小姐,便服酒店經紀,酒店打工,酒店寒假打工,酒店經紀,酒店經紀,專業酒店經紀,合法酒店經紀,酒店暑假打工,酒店兼職,便服酒店工作,酒店打工經紀,制服酒店經紀,專業酒店經紀,合法酒店經紀,酒店暑假打工,酒店兼職,便服酒店工作,酒店打工,酒店經紀,制服酒店經紀,酒店經紀