Monday, November 19, 2018

A View from the Geek

• "Geeking Is Good," By Eric Dontigney 

When I was a kid, geeking was purely the domain of D&D players, fantasy fiction buffs, and hardcore science fiction fans. At least, that was the general perception. Some of this was simply a byproduct of visibility and intensity. By and large, the groups listed above were populated by social outcasts, kids with lots of imagination and poor social skills, or the painfully bright. It was all of those things for some poor, damned souls. When we finally stumbled upon those of our own ilk, we stuck and stuck hard, never to look back. Geeking, which often intensified ostracization by what passed as the social elite, also meant an end to the absolute isolation so many of us experienced as kids and teens.

Of course, to steal borrow from Stephen King, the world “moved on.” Aided in no small part by the Internet, we all discovered that geeking out was, improbably, a hell of a lot more normal and widespread than any of us imagined. Geeking was no longer a scarlet letter of shame but a freaking red badge of courage. Other people liked comic books and science fiction and The Dark Tower and The Lord of the Rings and, praise God it’s not just me, Firefly. There were conventions, communities and, be still my geeky heart, people selling handmade Jayne Hats on Etsy.

This discovery wasn’t just mind-blowing for the poor, beleaguered social misfits. It was a full-on geomagnetic reversal of the social order. Up was down, left was right, and I could love Classic Doctor Who (terrible production values and all) openly.

Of course, to parse some lingo from the net, there will always be haters. You know them well. They’re the trolls and misanthropes and joy-killing anonymous posters that wish to belittle anything they cannot understand or, more likely, who have never loved anything enough to commit. We should pity these people because their biggest problem isn’t that they hate the things we love. I believe that their problem is that they have no passion.

Being a geek about something is all about passion. It’s about finding something that you can connect with on a level deep enough that you no longer care whether it’s “cool.” It’s cool enough for you. It makes your life better in some substantial way, and you want to share that with other people. You want people to be made as happy as you are made by these things. It’s what makes you proselytize about your geeky activity, drag your friends along to events they can’t wrap their heads around, and force your loved ones to watch episodes of Eureka. <---- If you aren’t inflicting the adventures of Sheriff Carter, Fargo, Allison, and Henry on EVERYBODY, for shame!

What I find perplexing is how people can get all the way through a life without ever, even once, finding something that captures their attention so fully that they Must Share It. I find that unhealthy and sad. It suggests to me that their imaginations were brutalized as kids, their willingness not to conform crushed by parents, teachers, and peers. In the end, I think, if you’re not geeking about something, it may be time to check your priorities.


Eric Dontigney is the author of the Samuel Branch urban fantasy series and the short story collection, Contingency Jones: The Complete Season One.  Raised in Western New York, he currently resides near Dayton, OH. You can find him haunting obscure sections of libraries, in Chinese restaurants or occasionally at

Eric’s last appearance in our pages was “Lenses,” in Stupefying Stories #21, and later this year we’ll be releasing his paranormal mystery novel, The Midnight Ground. Watch for it! 



Mark Keigley said...

I never was painfully bright, but I WAS painfully creative growing up in the midwest at a time when acting up and not doing your homework in classes didn't get you put in the got your backside warmed. So, yes.... you are not alone and I wore telemark hats as a telemarker long before Jayne.... and

~brb said...

> We should pity these people because their biggest problem isn’t that they hate the things we love. I believe that their problem is that they have no passion.

I dunno. I know some people who have plenty of passion: the problem is, their passion is 100% hate. I usually credit it -- is "credit" the right word? -- to malignant narcissism.

Life's too short to hate.

Eric Dontigney said...

I've heard this notion that hate is misplaced passion, but I'm not sure I buy into that mindset. It seems just as likely to me that it's misdirected self-loathing. Although, malignant narcissism is also highly plausible.

Eric Dontigney said...

I'm old enough and my parents were old-school enough that physical punishments were never completely off the table. Although, they were a lot more likely to ground me to sit in the living room, far, far away from all those books in my bedroom. I'd probably have preferred the backside warming.