We all know geeks. Most people reading this probably fall into one or another category of actually being a geek. But you may have noticed of late that there seem to be more of them around, and that they’re appearing more often in more places. Rock stars (Devonté Hynes of Lightspeed Champion), film stars (Vin Diesel plays D&D, Mr. T, Felicia Day, and Mila Kunis all play World of Warcraft)…
But why are the geeks on the rise? Well there are several factors that are contributing to their rise. First up, and probably most importantly is the fact that gadgets are cool. iPhones are the phone to have (provided you’re an iSheep who doesn’t know any better), and everyone spends their time downloading pointless apps to do pointless things. iPads, laptops, Facebook, YouTube, smart phones, MMORPG’s, digital cameras, emails – everyone’s using them to some degree even if it’s just for work. Facebook alone has more than 500 million users, which is more people than most Eastern European countries can claim as citizens, and so many of those users are spending so much time checking their friends status updates that companies have now incorporated restrictions on its use into their employee contracts.
Of course, the more prevalent these things become, the more likely you are to lure the potential geeks out of the proverbial woodwork. People that ten years ago would never have even considered spending two hours sat on a computer after work are regularly doing just that. People that sneered (and often still do sneer) at Dungeons and Dragons and those that play will happily spend hours slaying Vrykul warriors in the heart of Icecrown looking for epic loot on World of Warcraft. So the prevalence of these things is enabling the creation of more geeks.
And obviously more people ‘geeking out’ means more people buying into these geeky things… it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. But what about that beast lurking at the end of the network cable? I mean of course the Internet. It makes it so much easier to be a geek. Say for instance you recognise an actor in some popular musical-based series set in a high school. You want to know what film you last saw them in, so you tap their name into Google. You discover it was some awful film about Goats or something. Then you look up Goats. Then ninjas, then swords… and before you know it, you’re spending your weekends battling the orcish hordes with a foam rubber sword in local woodland.
LARP.... the furry kind apparently...
Well ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you probably get the gist of it. The Internet presents us with access to a plethora of information, much of it pointless and compiled by geeks elsewhere on the web. It’s very easy to be drawn into this web of discographies and minutiae, and that is a very slippery downward slope. Because pretty soon you start relating that pointless data in your head to other people, and earning your very own ‘GEEK’ label.
So, we’ve got the internet cramming all our brains full of pointless Star Trek info, and we’re toting around more technology than Inspector Gadget. What happens when one of those now-vital pieces of technology goes wrong, or suddenly you can’t access the internet to download the latest war gaming supplement? Well then you turn to that perennial die-hard geek, the techy.
Being one of these fine people myself, I’ve witnessed the increased demand for my ‘services’ first hand. Once upon a time the only people interested in asking me to help with their technological woes were other tech-heads wanting to pick my brains, or people that I was employed to help. And the latter group often only wanted the bare minimum; go in, fix the problem as quickly as possible, and get away from them lest they be contaminated with un-coolness or something. Now my Grandad calls me up for tech support. He’s seventy years old, and he calls me up to ask me about internet downloads and broadband speeds.
The techy that was once shunned as a necessary evil (much akin to taxes or alarm clocks) is now an integral part of most social groups. The demand for their help – both paid and unpaid – has risen dramatically on the wave of technology that’s swept us all off our feet in the last few years. And so not only have the existing techys become so popular, more people are becoming tech-heads!
Finally – and this one veers drastically away from the tech side of things – is nostalgia. The 1980’s saw the rise of the Saturday morning cartoon, the release of some classic films, and awful fashion. And the nostalgia for these things in the people that were there first time ‘round has prompted savvy merchandisers (notably t-shirt manufacturers) to cash in on this by releasing lines of products sporting the logos and catchphrases of 80’s properties. It’s also prompted misty-eyed twenty-something’s to buy their favourite 80’s films and/or TV shows on DVD. Transformers, Top Gun, The Goonies, ThunderCats… These and many more captured our imaginations in our adolescence, and are now re-capturing them now as we indulge in simple pleasures from a simpler time for us. Hence why it’s not unusual to spot people in 2010 sporting Top Gun Hoodies, or Truffle Shuffle t-shirts!
So there we have, one man(geeks) take on why we’re taking over the world. Did I say taking over? Oh, I meant… erm… helping the world through suppressing dissident elements. Yeah. That’s it.