Post-Script to What I Want From Us Geeks

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The post-script to “What I Want From Us Geeks” is that more than a few have mentioned how geeks are regular people so we can expect more behavior like this. Well, then I ask: “What makes us different?” And: “Then why the Speshul Snoflake attitude?”

That’s not the reason for this post today, however. Nope! You see, I know we’re not that different from football fans or survivalists or broom collectors or cross-stitching fanatics. . . But many of my fellow geeks believe that we are. The point behind Speak Out With Your Geek Out was to promote (shockingly enough) tolerance in a subtle way by means of respect. By listening to one another and being enthusiastic about what we were into, we really did blow down the barriers of what we thought geeks were. The “kid-in-the-corner” crap we feel, then, became a side effect to the fact that maybe, just maybe, feeling like we’re “the only one” is what causes self-labeling (or even when others use hurtful words) in the first place.

Well, obviously some people do want to feel like they’re the only one and it’s scarier not to feel special because you’re passionate about “X” and perhaps you’re the unique soul in your community who is. Good for you. The reality? Nigh seven billion people on the planet and even though we are all unique? Somebody is bound to have something in common with you. (Incidentally, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn as a writer. That the stories you tell may be yours and yours alone, but they’re not the greatest American life-changing Honey Boo Boo tales you think they are.)

I spent a lot of time trying to “fit in” and “be normal” I never, ever will. Never in a million years. Why? BECAUSE NORMAL IS A STATISTIC AND VISION OF HOW PEOPLE “SHOULD” BE/BEHAVE, BUT IT’S NOT WHO THEY REALLY ARE. But what I can do, is take comfort in the fact that there are people out there who not only get my dry humor, but who can finish my jokes. I have an SO who understands I don’t want flowers or diamonds — I’d rather get books, comic books, games and the like. (He also knows that I’m still the girliest Sephora/DSW/Macy’s addict this side of. . . Well, the Mississippi I suppose.) But the point is, that I’m with someone (and I choose to be around people like this) that want to be around me and who respect me for who I am. That’s my choice. When there wasn’t people like that? I went out and found them or learned how to be happy on my own. Self-rescuing princess. Right here.

(Isn’t that really what we all want, anyway? To feel connected to someone who genuinely and truly likes and appreciates us for who we are? Hard to find, sure. But it is possible.)

So I make no apologies for Speak Out With Your Geek Out. I am tired of defending the idea that it’s simply geek pride, because it’s not. During this time, what I saw on the ten thousand foot level, were people who didn’t know one another connecting and finding out that maybe, just maybe? There’s a little geek in ALL of us — regardless of whether you’re into cooking, bugs (true story, that), hunting, crocheting dinosaurs (also a true story), beading, games, comics, Harry Potter WHATEVER.

That’s what I want to focus on. Inspiration. Celebration. Fascination. Commendation. Not perspiration over some cosplayer walking into a con who we think doesn’t belong. Not degradation because all of a sudden geeks feel like our community is going to the shitter because it’s becoming more mainstream — and a thousand other negative ways we reinforce and defend the word “Geek.”

Huh. I wonder who we can inspire today?

    Mood: Effing Monday. ARGH!!!
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: If I don’t get more? I’m going to cry.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I didn’t. Feeling bad about that.
    In My Ears: Clannad from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack.
    Game Last Played: Dragon Age: Origins
    Movie Last Viewed: Spiderman the new one.
    Latest Artistic Project: In progress!
    Latest Release: “Fangs and Formaldehyde” from the New Hero anthology through Stone Skin Press

On the New Speak Out Guidelines

I’m having a little trouble with the new submission guidelines, so I need your help. The thing is, last year when Speak Out With Your Geek Out spontaneously combusted into being, we had some negative criticism based on how things were worded. There was a vocal minority of folks who didn’t like the mission statement. So, I want to do two things: a) reword the current mission statement and b) offer up a theme.

I have a few challenges writing up the submission guidelines for the theme of gratitude. First, I don’t want this to turn into an opportunity for religious, political, or otherwise inflammatory debate because of socially-charged topics.

Secondly, I can’t accept any submissions that reveals specific addresses or full names — especially of kids. First name and last initial is perfectly okay; I’d prefer that this site covers my butt and a few of my own basic privacy concerns. Whether that be an “at risk” clause in the submission guidelines or not, there has to be some -ese in this. Ugh.

This week-long celebration was supposed to be akin to  Geek Pride Day and not a chance for people to be beaten over the head with deep, serious topics and rampant negativity or criticism for simply wanting to be happy. It was, also, a way to point out and avoid yellow journalism within the context of being nerd bait or inducing nerd rage. Is it hard being a geek? Yes, because it doesn’t matter if certain topics are mainstream or not. If it’s mainstream, some of these awesome things will likely fade over time, because it’s capitalizing on a trend. Not to mention, if geeks were that accepted? Then there wouldn’t be any bullies lurking about and we all know that’s not true.

What we’re talking about here, is passion for what we love. That passion can manifest in a very positive way. I need to figure out how to get that message across in the simplest way possible but still make it firmly rooted in this thing called “geek.”

I’m attaching the original statement. What needs to change?

Take a stance against baiting nerd rage and stereotypes of geeks.

Post about how much you love your geeky hobbies or vocation from [Date] to [Date] on your blog, website, social media account or in a forum somewhere. Then come here and tell us about it. We’ll have a kick-off post where you can stand and be counted.

Let’s show the world why we’re awesome and why there is nothing wrong with being a geek.



What do you think about the submission guidelines? Thoughts?

Originally Published at SpeakOutWithYourGeekOut.com.

There is No Such Thing as a Fake Geek

Dear Readers:

I am writing this today in response to the latest kerfluffle online regarding the post that debuted on Forbes about fake geek girls. The last time I read an article like this, the subject matter was inflammatory on purpose because the writer got paid per page view and it was “good marketing.” In the effort of full disclosure, I have no idea whether or not that’s the case here. I just know that this post is generating a lot of discussion right now and, given what Speak Out is all about, I felt I needed to chime in here.

When I launched Speak Out with your Geek Out last Fall, I did receive some vocal negativity regarding the fact that I did not (and still do not) ever want to define what a “geek” is. The reason why I didn’t want to do that, is because this word is a bucket. People will self-identify with a label either when it’s comfortable for them or when someone else has taught them that they are associated with it.

The word “geek” has carried negative connotations for some time because what it does is call out someone who is passionate about “X.” It’s that passion, not necessarily the topic that person cares oh-so-much about, that causes these people to be bullied incessantly. As human beings, we have a problem dealing with those who share excessive amounts of emotion. Part of it stems from our different cultural expectations; it also originates from a sheer and utter lack of empathy.

Conventional wisdom says that to be cool and accepted by someone else’s ideals, it’s better to be casual and aloof. The funny thing is, the most successful people I know are exactly the opposite. They are happy with who they are, they’re free from worry, and they pursue their dreams with passion, grace, and dignity.

Now that the emotional weight of the word “geek” has changed somewhat in our society, more than a few folks are upset by that. Why? Well, before geek had any positive connotations, it allowed some folks to feel more like individuals because their way of life wasn’t as commonplace. Now that it’s mainstream or popular, I’m guessing some folks don’t feel like the underdog anymore. Regardless of what the truth is there, I feel this entire notion is incredibly sad and stupid. The only person that has the power to threaten your individuality is you.

Still, I do not consider myself to be a human being who has the right to tell someone else how they should feel about themselves. Who the eff am I to tell someone whether they are or aren’t a geek? In my mind, defining who can and can’t join this party is its own form of being a bully.

The minute you impose your views on someone else you stray into that territory because you are asserting yourself in a position of power. You are saying that your world viewpoint is better or more superior to someone else’s. It doesn’t matter how many people agree with what a “geek” is, there will always be that one person who feels they are one and outcast as a result. The same, sadly, can be said of any word that we use to label one another as a way of dividing, rather than uniting, us.

It is for that person, that single nameless individual, regardless of who they are, what they do, or where they came from, that I will continue Speak Out with your Geek Out this fall the exact same way I did last year.

I sincerely hope no one will wait until September to say a kind word or do a good deed until then. There may be seven billion people on this planet, but the only people we will ever truly have is each other, provided we take the time to listen and speak.

All my best,

Monica Valentinelli

Founder of Speak Out With Your Geek Out

Need Feedback on Speak Out with your Geek out

Speak Out with your Geek Out began with a single drop of creativity. Today, from where I sit, I’m floating happily along in an ocean of laughter, smiles and friendship. For that? I thank you muchly. (See: the answer to why is a raven like a writing desk.)

The majority of the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. There have been a few critical conversations that highlighted deeper issues within the community but that is to be expected from an event that got a lot of attention. Speak Out got a signal boost earlier in the week which amplified people’s knowledge about it. Geek Dad on Wired.com blogged about it, John Kovalic from Dork Tower drew a strip about it, Matt Forbeck interviewed me for GeekDad and Jennisodes podcast hosted me for a special chat.

In my mind, what has happened here can and should happen again. Many people would like this to be an annual event. There have been other conversations about going above-and-beyond what this event is. For that? I need your help.

Everything that was done: interviews, comic, writing, hosting, logo, etc. was donated or done on a volunteer basis in an extremely short span of time. Please keep that in mind when you’re answering my questions. You can either comment below or answer these on your blog and link to them in the comments.

(1) Do you feel Speak Out was a positive experience? Why or why not?

(2) Would you like this to be an annual event?

(3) Did you understand participation was voluntary? That there was a reason why “geek” was never defined?

(4) Is there anything that can be done differently for next year?

(5) If your answer to (4) was yes, how would you feel about a Kickstarter to help fund those goals?

Geeking Out about Hobby Anthropology

Today for Speak Out with your Geek Out, I’m going to talk to you about something I enjoy.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be my own brand of heroine. In my head, I morphed Amelia Earhart, Indiana Jones, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart and Marie Curie all wrapped up into a happy mixture of bravery, intelligence, talent, beauty and adventure. I had no idea where to begin, but it all sounded so incredibly exciting. (Still does.) New worlds, new cultures, new people, new places. I read an entire set of encyclopedias and poured through books in the library. In my head, I pretended to be this amalgamation even though I wasn’t.

Well, here I am and everything is still exciting to me. I love learning and there’s one discipline I often dive right back into without realizing it: cultural anthropology. Reading opened my eyes to the differences between cultures. I took several courses in ethnic literature in college because those stories (some of which chill me to the bone like the autobiographical narrative Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black which you can read for free online) helped me see the world through the eyes of different people and fictional characters. Those perspectives stuck and I dove into non-fiction. Ancient Egypt, which I started to read and explore as a child, was the first culture I fell in love with. The names didn’t imprint so well but the discovery of the culture did. My travels stretched into art, music, food and other aspects, too.

I do this sort of thing all the time. I look at trends and big picture stuff. See how cultures evolve and dive into history. It helps me imagine how this big crazy world of hours can hold close to seven billion people and not explode. It allows me to see patterns, sure, but also piece together different lifestyles and unique ways of living. That’s why I call myself a hobby anthropologist, because I’m always amazed at the world and trying to make sense of it by understanding and experiencing cultural evolution and revolution. My philosophy is: everybody has a story to tell. The second part of that is: There’s more than one way to be.

My interest in getting to know our world is part of the reason why I love creating characters and settings for my stories and games. I’m not looking at characters in context of skin or hair color or cosmetic differences. It’s about culture and history, too. It’s about avoiding the “paint” of a skin tone and tying it back into where/how/when that character grew up. Setting details help me shape the story on characters that are more realistic. They’re characterized as opposed to behaving like paper dolls. Vampires, immortals and the undead allow me to dive right back into my hobby and think about what it’d be like to tell a story from a character who watches the world change longer than anyone else alive. That’s part of the reason why I enjoy writing about paranormal characters so much. The world is crazy enough as it is. But throw a 1,000-year old vampire in there?

Thanks for listening to me geek out about hobby anthropology. I love every minute of it.

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