One-Fifth Of Americans Are Proud To Be Geeks

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One-Fifth Of Americans Are Proud To Be Geeks

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America: Land of the free, home of the geek?

In celebration of National Geek Pride Day (May 25), a survey released by IT staffing service Modis reveals some very interesting statistics about the nascent social acceptability of being a geek.

According to the survey, 17 percent of Americans self-identify as geeks. I don't have solid numbers in front of me, but I have to assume this is a monumental rise since the days when Robert Carradine was battling the dark powers of Ted McGinley.

Speaking of nerds, the survey makes a special point of addressing the differences between that term and geek. It seems that though nearly one-fifth of our population would write the latter on their OKCupid profile, very few are willing to also label themselves as nerds. Though 61 percent of respondents would call themselves nerds, the vast majority (87 percent) see a tangible difference between "geek" and its seemingly pejorative cousin.

The key issue this survey raises, particularly among those antiquated folk who still consider "geek" an insult, is why the general public suddenly sees the word as a badge of honor. According to the survey's results, people see geeks as particularly suited to work in the now-lucrative fields of information technology. Specifically, 65 percent saw geeks as perfect for employment as game designers and 50 percent see the sub-culture as ideal for roles as technology engineers.

Of particular note to me, and my incredibly attractive, urbane colleagues, is the 37 percent of respondents who see geeks as well-suited for the fast-paced world of professional blogging. Based on my very existence, I'd say that's a pretty accurate stereotype.

That said, this raises an important question: Is the sudden societal affection for all things "geek" a passing fad spawned by the relatively modern ubiquity of all things technological, or have our societal norms simply advanced to the point that we are, as a species, more accepting of the quirks of others?

The optimistic part of my duality has its theoretical fingers crossed for the latter, but my more realistic side believes this new-found love for those once disdained as a caste of tech-savvy social lepers is just a ruse to convince our kind to offer free tech support to the Ogres of the world.

(Image: NeoGaboX)

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Well, "Geek" denotes an intellectual interest, whereas nerd suggests a lifestyle/personality thing.
I don't necessarily take this as a good thing, because this could just as easily indicate that people want to identify themselves as intelligent and/or big enthusiasts of things that aren't mainstream, without any of the included social stigmas involved with them.

Meh.

*goes back to his custom 40k terrain*

Geeks ftw

JOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIN UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSS....

In all seriousness: I could have sworn nerd was the good one and geek was the bad one...

"Geek" is a derogative term.

Erana:
Well, "Geek" denotes an intellectual interest, whereas nerd suggests a lifestyle/personality thing.
I don't necessarily take this as a good thing, because this could just as easily indicate that people want to identify themselves as intelligent and/or big enthusiasts of things that aren't mainstream, without any of the included social stigmas involved with them.

I have to agree with you on that. I think the word "geek" is thrown around way too much and has become the popular thing to be now, I'm sure in time it will go back to being a dirty word again.

I lot of hipsters, particularly females, identify themselves as geeks or nerds because they used to play Legend of Zelda or like watching Glee. They never know the pain of losing a date just because you said "why yes I do play D&D" or being barraged in dodgeball for your starfleet t-shirt, they don't know the DEDICATION of arguing pointlessly on internet forums about hypothetical situations between imaginary people, they don't know the pain of a wedgie or similar torment.
They want the nerd medal without running the nerd marathon.

Erana:
Well, "Geek" denotes an intellectual interest, whereas nerd suggests a lifestyle/personality thing.
I don't necessarily take this as a good thing, because this could just as easily indicate that people want to identify themselves as intelligent and/or big enthusiasts of things that aren't mainstream, without any of the included social stigmas involved with them.

Or you could say it all clear, concise, and intelligently like Erana.

cool!
even though my friends are nerds some don't like to admit it.
but none of us are american so it does not matter.

image
http://xkcd.com/747/

I immediately thought of this halfway through the article. I agree with the creator that I always thought geeks were the ones who were considered weird and obsessed with something while nerds were the ones who were really good at math and science.

zehydra:
"Geek" is a derogative term.

You really think so?

OT: I'm not insulted by being called a nerd or a geek, rather I consider both to be appropriate and complimentary.

Considering that the survey was conducted by a IT company, is it really one fifth of Americans or one fifth of people in the IT sector?

ace_of_something:
I lot of hipsters, particularly females, identify themselves as geeks or nerds because they used to play Legend of Zelda or like watching Glee. They never know the pain of losing a date just because you said "why yes I do play D&D" or being barraged in dodgeball for your starfleet t-shirt...

Uh, I'm a professional blogger who literally earns his entire living from writing about games, technology and geek culture, and I've never known "the pain of losing a date just because you said "why yes I do play D&D" or being barraged in dodgeball for your starfleet t-shirt."

It may have something to do with the fact that my fashion sense prevents me from going anywhere near Star Trek-themed clothing, or the fact that I'm physically appealing to the opposite sex -- OR it might have something to do with the fact that you seem to be linking the term "geek" to poor social skills and an inability to present one's self to possible mates without immediately dropping the "I love things that are stereotypically repugnant to members of your gender" line.

I'm not picking on you specifically Ace, but I think it's crucial that we not define geek as "someone who sucks at getting dates." That's as harsh a stereotype as anything the captain of your high school's football team might have thrown at you.

(Post script: I was also a starting Defensive End on a #1-ranked football team and enjoyed the hell out of high school, so either my career path isn't an indicator of geekiness (it totally is), or your view of "geek" is insultingly narrow.)

Well, to be honest we have a rise in what is "nerd chic" out there simply because of the positive associations of "getting" technology and being smart. A lot of the people claiming to be geeks or nerds are not in any way social outcasts. A cute girl who plays the occasional video game and wears glasses as a fashion item is not a "nerd girl" by any stretch of the imagination, but will oftentimes present herself as one.

Simply put if nerds and geeks ever really reach 20% of the population we'll be mainstream, and thus by definition no longer nerds and geeks. It also means that instead of dwindling supplies of PnP RPG products (a dying industry) we'll have places selling them by the mega ton and going out of the way to have people come in and run games in their stores (as opposed to what Waldenbooks pulled in not wanting to deliver on the deals it cut with TSR back in the day, but that's a whole differant rant).

Basically as soon as you say "I'm a geek but I have a life and friends" your not a geek or a nerd. If you are, your by definition a social outcast because those things ARE your life. If they are simply only one small part of your life, then your not a nerd. It's sort of like how just about everyone reads comics growing up, but only a few people are really comics nerds who live this stuff, go to every con, and have their living space literally plastered with things related to comics at the age of 40. Likewise it involves being obsessive enough to take your interests and put them before a lot of mundane concerns, one of the reasons why nerds and geeks oftentimes have bad hygiene and so on. It's similar to the genius who is so wrapped up in his math that he forgets trivial things like that, except the nerd or geek is not interested in anything so practical. The term "I'm smart, but not in any practical way" pretty much summarizes what makes a geek a geek.

I'm a nerd, in that I'm interested in the scifi/fantasy/video game/escapism sort of lifestyle. I'm a geek in that I'm intellectually very interested in those things, and history, and psychology, and philosophy, and a particular bend of movies. In that sense, I'm a history geek. I'm a gaming geek. I'm a nerd geek. And I am proud of it. Why shouldn't I be, it's how I have decided to live my life.

zehydra:
"Geek" is a derogative term.

Not any more, not heard of being a "Gleek"?

dex-dex:
cool!
even though my friends are nerds some don't like to admit it.
but none of us are american so it does not matter.

Well you do have ONE 'friend' who is ;)

I just asked 5 people if they believe in Bigfoot. They all said yes. So by the same logic, 100% of Americans believe in Bigfoot.

EDIT: I just asked 10 people if they believe the Moon landing was faked. 3 said yes. So 30% of Americans think the moon landing was faked.

What a crazy country I live in!

Good for them

RT-Medic-with-shotgun:
Meh.

*goes back to his custom 40k terrain*

This is an acceptable response.

*goes back to building a custom bass guitar amp*

vxicepickxv:

RT-Medic-with-shotgun:
Meh.

*goes back to his custom 40k terrain*

This is an acceptable response.

*goes back to building a custom bass guitar amp*

Half the fun is in making the things for your hobby.

The way I see it, Geek typically specifies an intense interest in one specific category. Geek doesn't typically stand on it's own. You can be a sports geek, and memorize the stats of every sports team. You can be an anime geek, and have managed to watch more hours of anime than you have spent alive. You can be a gamer geek, and top the ladders on every game you play. You can be a computer geek, and be proficient in 10 different programming languages.

A nerd is someone who tends to get geeky about a lot of categories. A Sci-fi/Fantasy geek may quote Aasimov at you all day. A nerd, however, will follow up an Aasimov quote with a Portal reference, and then tell you what key the song you are listening to is in. Nerds tend to enjoy picking up esoteric facts and skills as well. Not just related to specific categories, but anything.

Earnest Cavalli:

ace_of_something:
I lot of hipsters, particularly females, identify themselves as geeks or nerds because they used to play Legend of Zelda or like watching Glee. They never know the pain of losing a date just because you said "why yes I do play D&D" or being barraged in dodgeball for your starfleet t-shirt...

Uh, I'm a professional blogger who literally earns his entire living from writing about games, technology and geek culture, and I've never known "the pain of losing a date just because you said "why yes I do play D&D" or being barraged in dodgeball for your starfleet t-shirt."

It may have something to do with the fact that my fashion sense prevents me from going anywhere near Star Trek-themed clothing, or the fact that I'm physically appealing to the opposite sex -- OR it might have something to do with the fact that you seem to be linking the term "geek" to poor social skills and an inability to present one's self to possible mates without immediately dropping the "I love things that are stereotypically repugnant to members of your gender" line.

I'm not picking on you specifically Ace, but I think it's crucial that we not define geek as "someone who sucks at getting dates." That's as harsh a stereotype as anything the captain of your high school's football team might have thrown at you.

(Post script: I was also a starting Defensive End on a #1-ranked football team and enjoyed the hell out of high school, so either my career path isn't an indicator of geekiness (it totally is), or your view of "geek" is insultingly narrow.)

I can understand where ace is coming from however. It's only natural really for people who have been bullied and abused for their interests to feel angered when people are suddenly saying they like the same hobbies because it's considered to be cool. Yes, I know it's a bit of an elitist viewpoint but as someone who was bullied mercilessly all through their school years for having hobbies that everyone else didn't like I can't say I'm happy when a few select people decide because they played Zelda once in their life or they've seen Star Wars they can suddenly be branded what was used as a derogatory term towards without having to endure any of the bullying and use it as a badge of "cool". Sort of like they've not "earned" the "right" to call themselves a geek.

And yes, yes. Elitist trap sprung.

Soren Kierkegaard:
Once you label me you negate me.

I have a name, not a tag.

image

a geek is basically a hipster with no fashion sense.

not really surprised.

that number is going to be significantly higher if you extend it to all forms of Geek, including sports.

Doc Theta Sigma:
I can understand where ace is coming from however. It's only natural really for people who have been bullied and abused for their interests to feel angered when people are suddenly saying they like the same hobbies because it's considered to be cool. Yes, I know it's a bit of an elitist viewpoint but as someone who was bullied mercilessly all through their school years for having hobbies that everyone else didn't like I can't say I'm happy when a few select people decide because they played Zelda once in their life or they've seen Star Wars they can suddenly be branded what was used as a derogatory term towards without having to endure any of the bullying and use it as a badge of "cool". Sort of like they've not "earned" the "right" to call themselves a geek.

And yes, yes. Elitist trap sprung.

That's my point though. Are you saying I'm not really a geek just because I'm not some huge fat dude whose never seen a woman naked and lives in his mom's basement?

If the qualifications for the term hinge on being into traditionally geeky pasttimes, I'm pretty confident that I've got you all beat (to the extent that it's a primary qualifying feature of the last half-decade of my job history).

At some point you're going to have to admit that the uproar over "normal people" calling themselves geeks stems from jealousy over the apparent loss of that one minor thing that socially inept adolescents had to make themselves feel special.

If anything the term is a depressing reminder of a time when geeks had nothing but that term to be proud of. Why would anyone want to hang on to that?

Earnest Cavalli:
...just a ruse to convince our kind to offer free tech support to the Ogres of the world.

I think that about says it.

What? You play video games regularly and suddenly you're one of us? Get real.

HankMan:

dex-dex:
cool!
even though my friends are nerds some don't like to admit it.
but none of us are american so it does not matter.

Well you do have ONE 'friend' who is ;)

good point

I always found geek to have more potential as an insult... There's no real set definition for the two though which causes confusion.
image

Personally, I wouldn't be insulted by either.

Edit:

Keltzar:
*snip*

Drat, I was ninja-ed.

Pfft, I was a Geek before it was mainstream!

1 in 5? Do we have such low standards?

I was ridiculed as a Trekkie before I was dismissed as a nerd. Currently seen as pseudo-mainstream, this too shall pass.

Wait, only one fifth?

Bleh, what about Canada? Nothing else for us to do but hunt. Without guns, of course.

I was a geek and a nerd long before they were cool.

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