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Obama flashing a Vulcan salute does not mean that you rule the world
April 18, 2012 1:51 PM   Subscribe

"Geeks are not an oppressed minority. There are certainly many members of oppressed minorities who are geeks, but geeks are not an oppressed minority. The n in "N-word" does not stand for nerd, or neckbeard. You are not owed attention for the "real you", especially if you insist that a hard drive full of scanlated manga is the real you. Let us put an end to Geek Pride."

Nick Mamatas, horror/fantasy/sf writer and editor of the Haikasoru line of translated Japanese science fiction novels, is getting a bit fed up with self congratulatory geeks and blows off this frustration in his usual subtle, understated way.
posted by MartinWisse (197 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Boring rant, but i'd wear a t-shirt that said "A subculture is not a counterculture. A consumer culture is not a subculture. We are not all in this together."
posted by thedaniel at 1:56 PM on April 18, 2012 [32 favorites]


This person has an opinion.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


Buried in the center of this pointless blogrant:

How much money you now make because you took the "hard" courses in school doesn't matter either. Not to anyone else, anyway.

Is someone a little bitter that the pizza-faced loser from high school has achieved financial success?
posted by Gator at 1:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you find yourself working as an unofficial volunteer publicist for the same, and spending many hours a week doing so, and getting into arguments and debates over it, and pretending to commit suicide so that people will feel bad about how awful they are to you, you might wish to ask yourself why.

That's less of what is generally referred to as a "slippery slope" and more of a "continental shelf of inane and unlikely theoretical situations."

Seriously, though, this reads like the sort of FUCKING POSEURS rant you'd see in a high school punk zine.
posted by griphus at 1:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


It's interesting that he makes the comparison between Pokemon and baseball fandom, since at the end of the day both are harmless fun and being a jerk about them is silly and pointless.
posted by jonmc at 1:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


Being a jerk about baseball and Pokemon is harmless fun too.
posted by aubilenon at 1:59 PM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


No, the fake suicide thing happens on fandom-wank every now and again.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:59 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was an odd mish-mash of rants.
posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is someone a little bitter that the pizza-faced loser from high school has achieved financial success?

I was going to guess that no one invited him to their DragonCon hotel room orgy.
posted by griphus at 2:01 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


How much money you now make because you took the "hard" courses in school doesn't matter either. Not to anyone else, anyway.

I'll set aside the money side of things but I damn well bet the author has benefited from the developments our society has accomplished, in part, from the brain sweat and time of those people who busted their ass in the "hard" courses he has such disdain for.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:01 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Livejournal. *Snort!*
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's less of what is generally referred to as a "slippery slope" and more of a "continental shelf of inane and unlikely theoretical situations."

You must not be familiar with Livejournal.

No, the fake suicide thing happens on fandom-wank every now and again.

Well, not so much on f_w as reported by f_w. I think there's dedicated pseuicide reporting comms too now.
posted by kmz at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wil Wheaton's going to be so maaaaaaaadddd
posted by dismas at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is someone a little bitter that the pizza-faced loser from high school has achieved financial success?

Given that he's an editor of translated Japanese science fiction novels and has written a novel about Jack Kerouac getting sucked into a confrontation with Lovecraft's Cthulhu cult, I'm pretty sure that's not actually the case. He's calling out members of a subculture of which he is most definitely a part, not criticizing it from outside.

Personally, I liked this, I more or less agree with it, and I feel like I could probably sit down and have a beer with this guy (OK, I already knew that, considering the above-mentioned Beat writers vs. Cthulhu-worshipers novel, but this doesn't change my mind too much).
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


Let's talk about Nick Mamatas's actual work instead of this thin blog rant with no actual argument worth discussing! Sensation was like three-quarters of an interesting philosophical horror novel but petered out sadly toward the end, right? But still, isn't it cool that PM Press is publishing such an interesting list of fiction now?
posted by RogerB at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and has written a novel about Jack Kerouac getting sucked into a confrontation with Lovecraft's Cthulhu cult...

Well, I guess if anyone is going to yell at people writing fanfiction, it's someone who has been paid to write fanfiction.
posted by griphus at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Surprise/care factor quickly went to zero when I understood the link to be livejournal however.

*awkward silence*

so....

... thanks for all the fish.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's calling out members of a subculture of which he is most definitely a part, not criticizing it from outside.

But I don't get who that sentence is calling out. I don't get the bit about fanfiction (it seems sort of destructive to call out indie content creators in a rant about consumers).
posted by muddgirl at 2:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The social fiction of One Big Happy Geek Family is rather useful for the sort of geek who wants to build a family. When you pretend that a social structure is already there, and get together with other people suffering the same illusion, you can keep up the pretense for quite a while, until maybe the difference stops mattering if you're lucky. It's like, why do I give a shit about the cotton fiber paper with Jackson's head on it, anyway? 'Cause everybody else does.

In microcosm, the notion that My Fandom Is Different will eventually, occasionally result in a fandom that actually is different, at least for a few people, at least for a little while. Certain people are willing to keep up the lie for as long as they need to in order to make it happen.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jesus, I'm brushing the spittle off me vest after reading that.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since when did geek == person who pretends to commit suicide for attention? I thought that was an attention whore.
posted by davejay at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


infinitywaltz: "has written a novel about Jack Kerouac getting sucked into a confrontation with Lovecraft's Cthulhu cult,"

Move Under Ground right? Was it any good?
posted by the_artificer at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2012


Boring rant, but i'd wear a t-shirt that said "A subculture is not a counterculture. A consumer culture is not a subculture. We are not all in this together."

Wait an hour, it'll be up for sale on thinkgeek. Boingboing will have the link for you.
posted by mhoye at 2:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Since when did geek == person who pretends to commit suicide for attention? I thought that was an attention whore.

This rant is not about geeks, but rather about Geek Pride.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:11 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ha! Oh Livejournal *ruffles its hair*
posted by The Whelk at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


This rant is not about geeks, but rather about Geek Pride.

When I feel this way I go through my feed reader and unsubscribe from all the shit that makes me feel this way. Then I don't have to rant any more. Seriously, unsubscribe from kotaku and boingboing. It will be OK.
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think he's reacting about being too self-congratulatory about your geekiness as if being geeky was some special badge of courage that resulted in Wizard powers as you age. I think it's also a reaction about being too insular in our interests and too exclusionary about people who don't share those interests. I think he's talking about how instead of looking at the statistics obsessed sports fan as being somehow plebian we should look at that being a reflection of the tendencies we have towards obsessing about minutae.

I think ultimately it's about not defining yourself by your interests and being open to a rich world of experience available to us all. That it's soo aggressive seems to be meant as a challenge to the community of geeks to maybe step up and not being the cliquish assholes that we hated when geeks were reviled.

Of course it's also LiveJournal so it's also gotta be about making your point in a completely dramatastic way. There I go being exclusionary.
posted by vuron at 2:20 PM on April 18, 2012 [48 favorites]


Move Under Ground right? Was it any good?

IT HAD WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS GOING UP AGAINST THE CTHULHU CULT.

Seriously, how am I supposed to tell whether it's good or not? If he'd thrown in some baklava or samurai I'd have probably had a mild stroke. Add a time-traveling police box and my heart would've exploded just reading the blurb on the back cover.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:20 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nothing in this rant refutes The Chart.
posted by pwnguin at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


...as if being geeky was some special badge of courage that resulted in Wizard powers as you age.

It doesn't?
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:21 PM on April 18, 2012


It will be OK.
muddgirl

Well yeah, it's not going to kill anyone, but this Geek Pride thing is really annoying, and seems more and more prevalent. There was that article on "geek sex" here on MeFi a while ago, I've seen people dismissing criticisms of "geek" movies because "non-geeks just don't get it", etc.

This idea that being a geek is an ethnicity or a special elite club is silly.

On preview, vuron nails it.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:22 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


It doesn't?

It totally does, you just have to be more discreet about it, is I think what he is saying.

But it's LJ so I think he's just poking a wasp's nest mostly.
posted by jessamyn at 2:23 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also:

Is someone a little bitter that the pizza-faced loser from high school has achieved financial success?

Gator

It's funny you say that, because it's the self-proclaimed "geeks" who are usually the ones obsessing over their high school days and childhoods, cataloging the slights and reveling in the failures of the "popular" kids. The author of this post touches on this:

Your lack of a high school sex life doesn't matter. (Nor does a prodigious high school sex life. Really, really.)
posted by Sangermaine at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This would make a great spoken-word piece (à la Gil Scott-Heron or the Fight Club soundtrack).
posted by acb at 2:27 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nowadays being a geek means you watched firefly and have a triforce tattoo. There is a very real group of people, who used to be called geeks, that were picked on and tormented and bullied. The people are still picked on and bullied, no matter how cool the things they like become they themselves will never be cool. You really going to tell me that these geeks, nerds, whatever, many of whom have very real issues should just STFU at the torment they endure?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:30 PM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think ultimately it's about not defining yourself by your interests and being open to a rich world of experience available to us all

False dichotomy. There's no rule to say that you only get one definition for yourself. Defining yourself by your interests is a logical thing to do when you are trying to find and join a hobby group, particularly when they're somewhere in this convention hall and you only paid for the one day. Perhaps certain people build their entire lives around this, in which case fandom is like everything else.
posted by LogicalDash at 2:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Whatever you hope to "escape" from will always follow you, because escape can't be purchased, or rented, or streamed online. [...] It's a TV show. It exists to compel you to send a company money, or to convince you to watch an ad. When it becomes less effective at doing this, it will go away.
Although all the world—even Sammy Clay, who had spent most of his adult life making and selling them—viewed them as trash, Joe loved his comic books: for their inferior color separation, their poorly trimmed paper stock, their ads for air rifles and dance courses and acne creams, for the basement smell that clung to the older ones, the ones that had been in storage during Joe's travels. Most of all, he loved them for the pictures and stories they contained, the inspirations and lucubrations of five hundred aging boys dreaming as hard as they could for fifteen years, transfiguring their insecurities and delusions, their wishes and their doubts, their public educations and their sexual perversions, into something that only the most purblind of societies would have denied the status of art. Comic books had sustained his sanity during his time on the psychiatric ward at Gitmo. For the whole of the fall and winter following his return to the mainland, which Joe spent shivering in a rented cabin on the beach at Chincoteague, Virginia, with the wind whistling in through the chinks in the clapboard, half-poisoned by the burned-hair smell of an old electric heater, it was only ten thousand Old Gold cigarettes and a pile of Captain Marvel Adventures (comprising the incredible twenty-four-month epic struggle between the Captain and a telepathic, world-conquering earthworm, Mr. Mind) that had enabled Joe to fight off, once and for all, the craving for morphine with which he had returned from the Ice.

Having lost his mother, father, brother, and grandfather, the friends and foes of his youth, his beloved teacher Bernard Kornblum, his city, his history—his home—the usual charge leveled against comic books, that they offered merely an easy escape from reality, seemed to Joe actually to be a powerful argument on their behalf. He had escaped, in his life, from ropes, chains, boxes, bags, and crates, from handcuffs and shackles, from countries and regimes, from the arms of a woman who loved him, from crashed airplanes and an opiate addiction and from an entire frozen continent intent on causing his death. The escape from reality was, he felt—especially right after the war—a worthy challenge.
[…] The pain of his loss—though he would never have spoken of it in these terms—was always with him in those days, a cold smooth ball lodged in his chest, just behind his sternum. For that half hour spent in the dappled shade of the Douglas firs, reading Betty and Veronica, the icy ball had melted away without him even noticing. That was magic—not the apparent magic of the silk-hatted card-palmer, or the bold, brute trickery of the escape artist, but the genuine magic of art. It was a mark of how fucked-up and broken was the world—the reality—that had swallowed his home and his family that such a feat of escape, by no means easy to pull off, should remain so universally despised.

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
posted by nicebookrack at 2:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


You really going to tell me that these geeks, nerds, whatever, many of whom have very real issues should just STFU at the torment they endure?

I can totally see this being an issue for kids, but isn't adulthood being able to extract oneself mentally and/or physically from insecure idiots acting like juiceboxes towards them?
posted by smirkette at 2:36 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think he's reacting about being too self-congratulatory about your geekiness as if being geeky was some special badge of courage that resulted in Wizard powers as you age.

I guess my point is that, in my experience, most geeks over the age of 21 aren't like this in meatspace. I will glady nerd out about ST:TNG vs. TOS for hours and hours. But I'm also interested in politics and feminism and social justice and history etc. etc. etc. Aren't most adults like this?

(I forgive any teens like this because being a smart, nerdy, poor teenager sucked hard and I am glad for any false sense of superiority that kept me alive and sane.)

I keep reading that the internet creates single-interest echo chambers, and that's probably a bad thing. But the solution isn't to yell at people for only having one interest. It's to recognize that, say, MBayIzKewl2012 who seems to only care about transformers maybe also cares about the federal defecit and his model train set.

I mean, I agree about the dangerous conflation of consumer culture with subculture, which is pernicious in, well, every subculture. But parts of his rant don't have anything to do with that.
posted by muddgirl at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


He wrote this rant in a mother-sewn Tyler Durden costume, tears rolling from beneath his sunglasses over cheeks onto which five o'clock shadow has been drawn with mascara pencil.

This is the second Durden costume he has owned. He lost the first one's leather jacket on a bus. He quickly lost the first one's sunglasses on that same bus, when he was punched in the face for trying to filch someone else's leather jacket in a misinformed and misguided attempt to retrieve his property. His injuries were further compounded when instinct kicked in and he could do nothing more than shout "I WANT YOU TO HIT ME HAS HARD AS YOU CAN!" as the man just kept beating him and beating him.

When his mother insisted on making the second costume, he was initially grateful. However, this gratitude faded when the first costume's jacket was mailed to him from the bus station's lost and found. She had thoughtfully sewn their address into the cigarette pocket, which he took as a sign that his "hideout" would never be safe. He would never be secure.

What if, his thoughts raced, the girls who work at the lost and found are cute, and now they know that I lose jackets and live with my mom? What if these same cute girls use Google Street View to spy on my house? What if they then Google my name to see what I look like, so that they can point and giggle when they see me? What if they subscribe to my LiveJournal just to hate me?

What if they think...I'm a geek?


"This is all too much," he blurted at the dinner table, noisily dropping his fork into his couscous, spraying fine pasta all over his mom, and also the cat, who had been sitting in the middle of the dinner table. She shouldn't have been sitting there anyhow.

He called his mother a "boat," for some reason, and then retreated to his room. There, he took corrective action. He castigated all of geekery in a fiery missive. They can't think I'm a geek if they know I hate geeks, he thought as his hands thrummed along the keyboard.

A symphony of hate came from his fingers. Tootling trumpets of disdain. Whining violas of rage. Thundering timpani of condescending dismissal.

He finished the missive. He hit "post." He folded his arms in pride. It was done. Those cute girls wouldn't stand a chance of thinking he was a geek now. Not after this.

"Check, mate, game, set, match," he said aloud. Then his mother told him to comb the pasta out of the cat's fur. He chuckled knowingly as he nodded in response, but then his mom asked again and he said "yes, I'll do it!" aloud, so that she could hear him.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


So, let me see if I can summarize this:

"Damn it, Humans, stop forming communities based on some commonality and then acting out the same patterns of internecine squabbling/unearned self-pride/baseless xenophobia/etc. that have been the hallmarks of every group of homo sapiens since that one tribe decided to stick in one place to see if they could grow some barley!"
posted by Freon at 2:38 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


People tend to form groups and groups tend to accept new members, so groups tend to include people that you find insufferable or if one doesn't it will shortly. The only solution is to not join groups.

If that sounds right, me-mail me and join my No Groups! group.
posted by Kwine at 2:43 PM on April 18, 2012


I liked this bit:
Not everyone who likes the same TV show as you is a member of your "family." Not everyone who likes that TV show less is a terrible person, or bland, or foolish. It's a TV show. It exists to compel you to send a company money, or to convince you to watch an ad. When it becomes less effective at doing this, it will go away.
A lot of people who are big fans of "geeky" television and movies don't think about this nearly as much as they should.
posted by RubixsQube at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


"We're all losers but I'm not because I recognize we're all losers!"

He comes off more pathetic than his strawman.

Actually, I think most of the people who believe in such a thing as "geek pride" would balk at his examples, since they're lame, and they generally don't like it when the squares co-opt geek interests anyway. I mean, they don't call Big Bang Theory "geek blackface" for nothing.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


CC: Chris Hardwick.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not everyone who likes that TV show less is a terrible person, or bland, or foolish.

Wrong.

People who don't like Parks and Recreation are lit'rally bad people.
posted by kmz at 2:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Anyway, I love this rant. And no, nobody is jealous of how much money you make lol.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa there now - this was some kind of competition?
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2012


Once somebody figures out "Hey I can make money by marketing to Apathetic Dadists," it's only a short step to "Hey I can make more money by marketing Apathetic Dadist as cool so that things I make for ADs has a wider customer base." Then comes the inevitable "I was an Apathetic Dadist BEFORE it was cool, you're just a poser," wars. Then somebody else succeeds in marketing their own particular brand of hating popular culture, and then everybody is that.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


noisily dropping his fork into his couscous, spraying fine pasta all over his mom,

pasta with couscous? how odd.
nice story though :)
posted by jacalata at 2:53 PM on April 18, 2012


I like Nick Matamas. We ended up fighting the same fight way back when that Tin House editor said some mean stuff about genre.

And I guess that's kind of the tension I feel about this. On the one hand, I was really, really geeky--dorky, really--as a kid. I went to school in 9th grade dressed like a Tenctonese like a decade after Alien Nation aired, and I caught some flack for it, and so I want to feel proud of my admittedly dorky interests, to take ownership over them. I do not want to be ashamed, because adolescence was navigating the uncomfortable space between shame and ownership mostly unsuccessfully.

I'm better at it now, and part of that is because I'm not ashamed. However, I think he's right: geek is not a special class. We are not Heralds, riding white, dorky ponies of justice. We're just people who like stuff. Sometimes we happen to like the same stuff. That's all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


If it's possible to make money by marketing to Apathetic Dadists, why did they discontinue OK Soda, huh?!
posted by aubilenon at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I'm also interested in politics and feminism and social justice and history etc. etc. etc. Aren't most adults like this?

No.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Let's just pretend my lack of caring about the absurdity of art made me leave those "a"s out of Dadaist.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:01 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


as someone who does not identify as a geek this is kind of creeping me out for some reason

this/these subculture(s) should totally die and since you asked, here is what i have to replace them, also here is what to feel about things
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


No kids should be ashamed, but all adults over 35 should be, a little, but in increasing amounts until you inevitably die of it. Right? Or is that just me?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can totally see this being an issue for kids, but isn't adulthood being able to extract oneself mentally and/or physically from insecure idiots acting like juiceboxes towards them?

Should they have to? I don't think people with PTSD from being beaten up every day of high school should have to spend their entire lives cloistered because every time someone acts like that towards them it sends them into some sort of shame spiral.

Anyway, there are millions of people for whom geek was not something they embraced. They weren't geeks because they liked buffy, they were geeks because they simply did not fit in for whatever reason. Even if they tried to like whatever the cool people were into it didn't work. If they tried to play sports they were bullied in the locker room. If they tried to be social they were laughed at.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I mean, they don't call Big Bang Theory "geek blackface" for nothing...

Wait, what?
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 3:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Hey I can make money by marketing to Apathetic Dadists

They've already cornered the market on cargo shorts.
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If it's possible to make money by marketing to Apathetic Dadists, why did they discontinue OK Soda, huh?!

Apathetic Dad brand scotch
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ad Hominem: How is that at all related to what the author of the piece was saying? He was talking about subcultures. Also, a lot of people have it hard and are bullied who don't like sci fi and have no relation to computers whatsoever. So what's up with them, they're just SOL?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Ad hominem said, mostly.

Things regularly happen in our public schools, with our knowledge, our tolerance and often even our encouragement as a society; things which would result in prison time and multimillion-dollar lawsuits if they happened to employees in the course of their employment. "Hostile environment" doesn't even begin to describe what we put some of these kids through.

On preview: "A lot of people have it hard and are bullied" is derailing at best, trivializing genuinely horrific experiences at worst.
posted by ubernostrum at 3:11 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a bit dissonant that this person who is condemning people for flaunting their geekiness has chosen to identify himself online as "Nihilistic Kid".
posted by XMLicious at 3:15 PM on April 18, 2012


I hoped this was going to be about all the unchecked sexism, racism, homophobia etc that tends to develop in bunker-mentality geek communities. The way certain people seem determined to conclude that the ways they were persecuted for their geekiness were only flawed in that they weren't on top of the pile.

He sort of almost wanders into this territory when he mentions the myth that geeks within a shared-interest community are homogenous, inevitably with privileged white guys who feel persecuted as the unspoken norm. It's a myth that's inevitably going to be shattered when people realise they can't shut out the big, complex, analogue real world that supposedly hates them and have other humans to share their interests with, and that there's no bunker deep enough that medicating one's bitterness by playing at being the dominant majority guy in a microcosm is a sustainable strategy.

Actual bullying in schools shouldn't at all be trivialised or ignored just because geeks aren't an oppressed group as such, but nor does it excuse the sort of toxic behaviour it's used as justification for in adults who should know better.
posted by emmtee at 3:16 PM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


I must have missed it. Is there some rule that says you have to be oppressed in order to feel proud?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:19 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"A lot of people have it hard and are bullied" is derailing at best, trivializing genuinely horrific experiences at worst.

Err, well sorry I guess? I feel like the word "bullying" appearing in this thread at all is a derail and was attempting to rerail. But I could be wrong. If you're referring to the idea that Geeks are not an oppressed class, I have to ask: Are you willing to say that they are? That the experience of being a geek in America, at any time in it's history, has been equatable to what gay or black or any other minority has experienced? Because I was a Geek, and I got the shit kicked out of me somewhat, and I think that idea is not only wrong, but insidious. My personal shitty traumatizing experiences are rough, but not on the same level as the systematic discrimination against a race, gender or sexuality of people stretching back for hundreds or thousands of years.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:20 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ad Hominem: How is that at all related to what the author of the piece was saying? He was talking about subcultures. Also, a lot of people have it hard and are bullied who don't like sci fi and have no relation to computers whatsoever. So what's up with them, they're just SOL?

He is saying that geeks are not an oppressed minority. I think that there are some people who have been traditionally identified by other people as geeks who are. It isn't as matter of choosing to like computers and sci-fi. It is a matter of being born neural atypical.

Plenty of people are bullied for plenty of reasons and all of them are bad and wrong. I also know people I would consider geeks that don't even know how to use a computer. In fact, people were refered to as geeks and nerds before computers existed.

If he wants to call out neural typical people who like sci-fi then more power to him. He should make that distinction though, not attack all people who were labeled a geek against their will.

My personal shitty traumatizing experiences are rough, but not on the same level as the systematic discrimination against a race, gender or sexuality of people stretching back for hundreds or thousands of years

This isn't a competition, but I think atypical people have been dsicriminated against for thousands of years.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2012


My personal shitty traumatizing experiences are rough, but not on the same level as the systematic discrimination against a race, gender or sexuality of people stretching back for hundreds or thousands of years.

Hence the inherent ridiculousness of calling The Big Bang Theory "geek blackface" or a "geek minstrel show" or whatever. I mean, yeah, kind of, I guess, but in a much more important way, NO.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:24 PM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


you ever notice how this particular brand of antipathy tends to spike during times of economic duress

i am letting my theories write my posts right now
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:26 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah. I kinda get it. "I like XYZ and I have nothing to be ashamed of" is fine and healthy. "People who don't XYZ are muggles." is annoying as fuck.
posted by ian1977 at 3:31 PM on April 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Man, I hated people who hated geeks who hated people before it was cool, man.
posted by thanotopsis at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fuck him. I'm cool.
posted by Bonzai at 3:34 PM on April 18, 2012


What's wrong with LiveJournal? I've read some great things on LJ? This one ... eh.

I generally agree with the rant, and am disappointed that "geek" has become a consumer descriptor (i.e. a "geek" is defined by the culture she consumes), but no, not a great write-up.

Geek and nerd are pretty empty descriptors these days. From what I've seen (people who wear the words on T-shirts) it's mostly an exercise in self-identification to (unsuccessully) try to prove that you are intelligent. From my experience the real smarties don't broadcast it--they just smile oddly.

You really going to tell me that these geeks, nerds, whatever, many of whom have very real issues should just STFU at the torment they endure?

I don't think those people are "geeks" or "nerds" anymore. I won't repeat the words they they do get called these days, because they are not as nice.

Nothing in this rant refutes The Chart.

Any chart that doesn't include ham-radio geeks is no chart I want to be a part of.

noisily dropping his fork into his couscous, spraying fine pasta all over his mom,

pasta with couscous? how odd.


Dude, I'm gonna blow yer mind: couscous is pasta.

/ancientgraingeek
posted by mrgrimm at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you use the word "geek" to mean "person who was bullied in high school", that's your choice, but that's not the only way to use that word, at ALL. If you read the article, he's clearly talking about geeks that are defined by their love of sci-fi, D&D, anime, etc.

Talking about bullying has nothing to do with what this article is about, at all.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:36 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


i wonder if religion can be a consumer product
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think pervasive bullying of geeks, nerds, outsiders obviously continues to take place. From that perspective perhaps geek pride as a way of saying "hey it's okay to be different whether you you are gay, other gendered, of a different race or simply because you like BSG, MTG, Comic Books, etc" and that you shouldn't be made to feel guilt or self-loathing because you don't fit in a specific box is a good thing. That isn't to say that being exposed to bullying about being a geek is equivalent to being black or transgendered or gay but that being something that is different is a good thing.

However I also don't think that being different gives you free license to be exclusionary and elitist in the way that many geek communities tend to be. Some geek and hobbies are great about including others whether they are merely novices to the hobby or are a member of a traditionally discriminated against group. Others are not.

I'm definitely a geek, and I freely admit that I've been exclusionary in the past (and probably even today). I've also noticed that many communities definitely adopt a siege or bunker mentality which excludes those voices that don't match their own (typically white males) and can harbor discriminatory attitudes as primitive as I've seen in any environment outside of the obvious offenders.

I think it's good for people in the geek community to say "No we should be better than that" and expect people to step back from bullshit tribalism whenever possible.
posted by vuron at 3:38 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


"People who don't XYZ are muggles." is annoying as fuck.

Well, yeah, welcome to the human race.

I think it's good for people in the geek community to say "No we should be better than that" and expect people to step back from bullshit tribalism whenever possible.

Why should we expect geeks to be better people than non-geeks?
posted by muddgirl at 3:42 PM on April 18, 2012


"People who don't XYZ are muggles." is annoying as fuck.

Well, yeah, welcome to the human race.


...touche? :{
posted by ian1977 at 3:45 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


> When you pretend that a social structure is already there, and get together with other
> people suffering the same illusion, you can keep up the pretense for quite a while

Until somebody mentions what they think is the One True Indentation Style and they're WRONG
posted by jfuller at 3:46 PM on April 18, 2012


It would be beyond hilarious if people were so outraged by this that they started boycotting Haikasoru because of Nick's perceived inability to understand the nerd/geek/dweeb/whatever mentality.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:47 PM on April 18, 2012


man i pirated move under ground and it was still a waste of money
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:47 PM on April 18, 2012


It's funny you say that, because it's the self-proclaimed "geeks" who are usually the ones obsessing over their high school days and childhoods, cataloging the slights and reveling in the failures of the "popular" kids.

This is what gets me, now i do call myself a geek, but this annoys me. Geeks are oppressed, but wait, they run all companies? Can it really be both? I don't think so, and it bugs me. True oppression is from things you have no control over, like race, mental illness, sexuality, etc. Not "I like obscure sci-fi."
posted by usagizero at 3:47 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


What's wrong with LiveJournal?

Well... I'd say this guy is fighting some kind of FANS ARE SLANS AND THAT IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT strawman, but if anyone is saying such a thing LiveJournal would be where they are saying it.
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somebody actually said this in his comments. He really used the phrase "fans are slans" and I almost peed my pants.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


In 25 years I have never seen this supposed pervasive bullying. Neither I, nor anyone I have met, actually grew up in a John Hughes movie. The faux oppression is insulting to those who are actually oppressed outsiders.
posted by karmiolz at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


FANS ARE SLANS was an actual real thing. If there were such a thing as nerd history then it would be a dark day in it.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


FANS ARE SLANS was an actual real thing.


heheh. Slan shack.
posted by ian1977 at 3:54 PM on April 18, 2012


FANS ARE SLANS was an actual real thing. If there were such a thing as nerd history then it would be a dark day in it.

It was an actual real STUPID thing in 1941. The idea that someone would actually use it seriously in 2012 is beyond ridiculousness.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:55 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mean, to me, the whole "fans are slans" set Mark 1.0 were on a par with white supremacists in being their own best counter-argument. The idea of third-wave or fourth-wave slanfans boggles.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well... I'd say this guy is fighting some kind of FANS ARE SLANS AND THAT IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT strawman, but if anyone is saying such a thing LiveJournal would be where they are saying it.

I read it more as fighting the whole "zombies pirates ninjas Gaiman Whedon ponies FOR THE WIN!!" that lies at the dark heart of fandom like that big crazy spiked-ball-looking apparatus that made the crazy crashing noises and sent the crew to hell in Event Horizon, which I am referencing because...come on, look at this thread, I know you people have all seen Event Horizon. Don't be coy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:56 PM on April 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


I know you people have all seen Event Horizon. Don't be coy.

That first eyeless corpse discovery scared the crap out of me.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The soi-disant slan I referred to earlier.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep feeling the urge to write something in response, but I just end up shrugging my shoulders. He has an opinion, he expressed it on the the internet and so it goes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some day I will write up the better end for Event Horizon that exists only in my head, oh yes.
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on April 18, 2012


Some day I will write up the better end for Event Horizon that exists only in my head, oh yes.

I we're going this way, why not Event Horizon/Fifth Element cross over fiction?
posted by Chekhovian at 4:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey!

Write your own fanfic, dammit.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well ok, since he is only talking about crap like Scott Pilgrim against the universe, all the DAE play nintendo, and ninja pirate bacon obession I guess I am forced to agree.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:09 PM on April 18, 2012


holy shit this guy is almost twice my age

NOW i get it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:13 PM on April 18, 2012


Once more:

You can be into a thing without being into being into that thing.
posted by Legomancer at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


LJ is better than your shitty FB, G+ and Twitter combined.

Suck it you mainstream losers.
posted by symbioid at 4:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


holy shit this guy is almost twice my age

OMG humans who are 40 years old are still walking the Earth and having opinions THIS IS INCREDIBLE
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:22 PM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

im actually kind of impressed in the same way that im impressed with Jack LaLanne
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


LJ is better than your shitty FB, G+ and Twitter combined.

Suck it you mainstream losers.


I've just made a chart demonstrating you have Privilege and therefore suck. Take that, Otherizer!
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am almost 40.

/checks lifegem on palm of hand.

/ realizes none of you fucking kids will get that reference.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

You might be on the wrong website.
posted by aspo at 4:27 PM on April 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


I have just made a pie graph demonstrating...well, nothing, actually.

But.

Pie!!

It smells like blueberry delicious.
posted by byanyothername at 4:29 PM on April 18, 2012


Artw: "I am almost 40."

Going by the book that is almost two lifetimes old, when you hit 42 does your lifegem implode?
posted by the_artificer at 4:29 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

Well, writing goofy trolly comments will be a lot less fun; you'll lose a lot of interest in that at first, but your doctor can prescribe you these pills that make it fun all over again. The only side-effect is you'll forget how to use capitalization and punctuation, but --

*gasp*

OH MY GOD
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:30 PM on April 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Solution: We carve up some of our bigger, emptier states and give them to various fandoms so they never have to interact outside their kind ever again
posted by The Whelk at 4:32 PM on April 18, 2012


It would be like going to Pennsic forever.
posted by the_artificer at 4:36 PM on April 18, 2012


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

Well bless your heart.
posted by jessamyn at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2012 [28 favorites]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

Well, bless your heart.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:40 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh SNAP jess!
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:40 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


<rocking chair>oh snap!</rocking chair>
posted by jessamyn at 4:42 PM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm over 40. Shaddup, brats.
posted by jonmc at 4:43 PM on April 18, 2012


Youth is indeed wasted on the young.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:47 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Better that than the young get wasted on my lawn.
posted by koeselitz at 4:51 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


man, you wanna get MetaFilter to show its claws, insinuate that nerds aren't all delightfully whimsical creative geniuses
posted by Legomancer at 4:51 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not everyone who likes the same TV show as you is a member of your "family." Not everyone who likes that TV show less is a terrible person, or bland, or foolish. It's a TV show. It exists to compel you to send a company money, or to convince you to watch an ad. When it becomes less effective at doing this, it will go away.
TV shows are popular for a reason. It's not enough to just slap some images on the screen and hope people send in cash; In order to be compelled to pay they must be compelled to watch.

Community is compelling. Having one heart's touched is compelling. Knowing that thousands of other people feel the same way is compelling.

Often times the show reflects a particular set of social values as well. The President flashing a Vulcan salute does not mean that Star Trek fans rule the world, but it does mean the President is aware of the values presented in Star Trek and not afraid to be associated with them. (he doesn't flash devil horns very often). Someone who shares at least some of my values is in charge of the country, and I feel pretty damn good about that.

Humans form communities around many things, for example sports, spirituality, schools, and yes media. To say that the communities are somehow invalid because they center around a well that may run dry is missing the point -- all wells run dry eventually. What is important is the human connections we make while they're still in full flourish.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


I spent thirty minutes today in the comicbook store with my 21 month old. We normally swing by every Wednesday for a quick peek, but today's visit was much longer because he saw a cardboard standup of Green Lantern and said, "Superman! Hi, Superman!"

I then spent the next 25 minutes strolling him back and forth between the Superman standup and the Lantern one. We could not leave until he got it right.

So my son will definitely be a geek, for based on today, he will undoubtedly suffer due to comics.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm 40, but I'm not on the internet, so that's all right.
posted by kyrademon at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

Technically I just can't remember being 40 on the internet. It's been a while.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:54 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I guess my point is that, in my experience, most geeks over the age of 21 aren't like this in meatspace. I will glady nerd out about ST:TNG vs. TOS for hours and hours. But I'm also interested in politics and feminism and social justice and history etc. etc. etc. Aren't most adults like this?

I think the thing is that you (presumably) won't go round proudly telling people how you're a geek. You'll discover someone you're talking to also watches a lot of Star Trek and you're happily on your way.

I don't know, I certainly have the experience of being put off of hanging out with people because they're too busy trying to show me their geek cred.
posted by hoyland at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Gator: "Is someone a little bitter that the pizza-faced loser from high school has achieved financial success?"

You know, I could go my entire life without hearing or seeing "pizza-faced" one more goddamned time.
posted by wierdo at 5:15 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


"lasagna-limbed"?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on April 18, 2012


Couscous-countenanced?
posted by fleacircus at 5:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


ooh ooh ooh, I can do this!

"Rice pudding brained"?
posted by Chekhovian at 5:21 PM on April 18, 2012


@tell me no lies

that's what bugs me. it's like, yeah, people have built themselves around this transient ephemeral silly shit, that is what people have done forever?

i mean maybe i haven't been down in it enough to get soured on it and that's what i don't get but it's like what do you expect this person to say when you call what they think they are dumb

are they gonna respond happily to this news

there is this urge to "separate the wheat from the chaff" i see in rants like these that makes me uncomfortable. plus, stuff like "a subculture is not a counterculture" strikes me as misleading if not untrue. what is the alternative to us being "all in this together"?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:24 PM on April 18, 2012


FANS ARE SLANS was an actual real thing.

Thanks for the link. Reading these old SPACEWARP Insurgent articles trashing 1940s fandom has been a lot more fun and interesting than this Nick Mamatas poo poo blah blah. That F. Towner Laney*, what a bastard.
posted by fleacircus at 5:35 PM on April 18, 2012


Oh man, those fucking geeks that named their baby Daenerys? A judge needs to fix that. And maybe get them fixed too. No more procreation for them.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:00 PM on April 18, 2012


Sports is actually a good example to illustrate the distinction between "people who like geeky stuff" and, to paraphrase hoyland, people who are constantly trying to show off their geek cred/geekiness.

A lot of people like sports, but they have other stuff in their lives. They'll talk about sports if that's what the conversation is about, and they watch the games. But I think we all know some people who live and breathe sports, who talk about it constantly, who plaster themselves and their possessions with sports items, etc.

Those people tend to be very annoying because there seems to be nothing to them but liking sports. Geeks can be the exact same way.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sangermaine, you are so right that monomaniacs are unbearable. I once introduced someone who could talk about nothing but REM to someone who could talk about nothing but Terence McKenna at a party just to see what would happen.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't see what happened, because I ran away. Of course. This ties in to the Dumt og Farligt thread somehow, I'm sure.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those people tend to be very annoying because there seems to be nothing to them but liking sports. Geeks can be the exact same way.

As the saying goes, it's not that you wear t-shirts with Firefly characters on them. It's that you only wear t-shirts with Firefly characters on them.
posted by Legomancer at 6:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Quiche-Featured"
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 PM on April 18, 2012


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet

Don't worry, no problem. A lot of us can't remember what it felt like thinking we knew everything and were always right.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:41 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


You guys are talking about perseveration, which is associated with autism spectrum disorders.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:41 PM on April 18, 2012


I'm a little surprised by all the LJ hate. If it weren't for Facebook and G+ taking away almost all my friends, I'd still use it; its infrastructure has nothing to do with drama and there are of course subsets of LJ members that are drama-free.

The sentiments expressed by the essay are understandable. I see the essay as attempting to convey the felt experience of socializing with people that are under the sway of the geek social fallacies.
posted by Jpfed at 6:45 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


no condemnation or insult intended i just cant imagine being 40 on the internet
im actually kind of impressed in the same way that im impressed with Jack LaLanne

40? (Laughs like hell) Hell, I wish I were 40 again.

See, we were here before the internet was the internet. Dialup boards. When it was just us... geeks.

See, we were hipsters while you were in diapers, bro.

But I think this Mamatas misses the point: neither "geek culture" nor "fantasy football" is anything that makes you a great person, but there's nothing wrong with loving you are (...She said, 'cause He made you perfect, babe)

Or maybe he figures all geeks have a touch of self loathing and is trying to play to it.
posted by tyllwin at 7:17 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys are talking about perseveration, which is associated with autism spectrum disorders.

Lots of completely neurotypical people are just bores who talk and talk about the shit that interests them, even though the people around them don't care.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Should they have to? I don't think people with PTSD from being beaten up every day of high school should have to spend their entire lives cloistered because every time someone acts like that towards them it sends them into some sort of shame spiral.

Sadly, as Darth Helmet so aptly noted, we are often surrounded by assholes against our will. I'm not trying minimize bullying (having been bullied a bit myself back in the day), but at some point as adults, we can decide to take the power to respect ourselves and our choices back from asshats that took them from us when we were 14. We don't have to be victims for the rest of our lives. It surely isn't an easy journey and it takes time, and it sucks that some of us have to take it, but I also think we can twist it into something good for ourselves instead of letting it twist us. Therapy can help with this.
posted by smirkette at 7:20 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


karmiolz: "In 25 years I have never seen this supposed pervasive bullying. Neither I, nor anyone I have met, actually grew up in a John Hughes movie. The faux oppression is insulting to those who are actually oppressed outsiders."

Well, meet me, then. You're lucky. My bully haunts my dreams, as a nemesis, a shadow haunting me... and from the stories I've heard from other people I know who lived in a different town, I got off somewhat decently. At least the teachers pretended to give a shit at my school (except for the one who was 100% "oblivious" to my ass getting kicked 20 feet away from him...) At my friends' school, the teachers actively egged on the bullies.
posted by symbioid at 7:27 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: "LJ is better than your shitty FB, G+ and Twitter combined.

Suck it you mainstream losers.


I've just made a chart demonstrating you have Privilege and therefore suck. Take that, Otherizer!
"

BINGO!
posted by symbioid at 7:29 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whatever you hope to "escape" from will always follow you, because escape can't be purchased, or rented, or streamed online

You know who sneers at the idea of "escape"? Jailers.
posted by straight at 7:43 PM on April 18, 2012


You know who sneers at the idea of "escape"? Jailers.

You know who benefits from the idea that "escape" comes from consumerism?
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:46 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know who benefits from the idea that "escape" comes from consumerism?

You know who self-defines as a communist or a socialist or an anarchist (sorry, I can't remember which exactly)? Nick Mamatas. OMG NOW HIS CRAZY RADICAL LEFT-WING AGENDA IS REVEALED
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note: I don't actually think Nick's left-wing agenda is even remotely crazy. He is probably somewhere to the right of me.

Also, we are friends in the pixels although we have yet to meet in person.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:50 PM on April 18, 2012


@infinitywaltz

is consumerism only consumerism if it involves money
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:01 PM on April 18, 2012


You can't escape but sometimes you can press pause for awhile. I recommend Sour Diesel plus Metafilter on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop depending on mood.

I don't typically self identify as a geek, stoner, or metal head, or white cracker for that matter, but I've been called all four at various points in my life, typically overlapping. Most of the bullying I endured was due to a combination of being white and nerdy, having grown up in a mostly black neighorhood. I don't harbor any resentment for anyone at this point and learned a lot from the experiences, but it was some pretty heavy stressful shit to get through during adolescence.

Anyway, I am put off by cliques of totally like minded individuals and am pretty contemptuous of people who brandish the geek label. I will admit I feel that I have more cred and there are always those who have more. I think flashing it around is just pathetic and often indicative of bullshit affectation. I hate fake bullshit.
posted by lordaych at 8:01 PM on April 18, 2012


But I also understand the desire to form groups and feel safe. I've just experienced enough exclusionary bullshit and it sets me off.

I was a social outcast until high school and came into my own as a person who just wanted to be around people who make me laugh and made them laugh in return. Many were (smart and creative) stoners, many hated pot but hung out with stoners because they grew up together. I was new in town and broke into their clique but always tried to reach out to the so called preppies and jocks, the ones who were nice to me, eventually falling in puppy love with one and getting crushed in the process. Blah. this post makes me want to sockpuppedly perseverate about my self. I have a problem with proclamation and all self promotion in social settings, even though I am guilty of it from time to time. that's it.
posted by lordaych at 8:15 PM on April 18, 2012


That it's soo aggressive seems to be meant as a challenge to the community of geeks to maybe step up and not being the cliquish assholes that we hated when geeks were reviled.

Haha. No, pretty much all of his stuff is like that. It's kind of his schtick: black leather jackets and sunglasses and so on.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:25 PM on April 18, 2012


Community is compelling.

Damn right, I love that show.
posted by azarbayejani at 8:26 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread is making me think about Geek Love a lot, and Dunn's disturbing exploration of the seduction of embracing dysfunction...allowing inability to function in society to give one's life shape and meaning....how powerful the power to repel can be. It's a strange book, creeps you out and stays with you.
posted by Diablevert at 8:32 PM on April 18, 2012


Good discussion. I wonder of we can remember this when the subject of hipsters comes up as an FPP.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:38 PM on April 18, 2012


MetaFilter: Tootling trumpets of disdain!
posted by loquacious at 8:39 PM on April 18, 2012


Good discussion. I wonder of we can remember this when the subject of hipsters comes up as an FPP.

Yes, I too agree that hipsters are not some oppressed minority and should get over themselves.
posted by Snyder at 8:52 PM on April 18, 2012


Like geeks.
posted by Snyder at 8:52 PM on April 18, 2012


is consumerism only consumerism if it involves money

Yeah...and pretty much what Mamatas is ranting about is the attitude that consuming one form of entertainment (i.e. so-called "geek" stuff like science fiction) doesn't make you inherently better or worse than consuming a different form of entertainment, such as professional sports. He's decrying the fact that so much of the identity of self-described "geeks" is wrapped up in what entertainment they consume.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I too agree that hipsters are not some oppressed minority and should get over themselves.

Was that really this discussion? I thought it more like "This is some unfocused wharglbargl that unfairly lumps a disparate group of people together, invents behavior they share in common, and criticizes them for that behavior."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:09 PM on April 18, 2012


OMG humans who are 40 years old are still walking the Earth and having opinions

I know this is true because...I WAS THAT HUMAN!

We may not rule the world, but with the large venn-diagrammatic intersection between the geekly and the infrastructure and the content decisionmakers, we certainly conrol a large slice of the means of production of interest.

However - as that structure spreads into more areas, further embracing the mainstream to pay for its dreams, our vibrant yet commerically exploitable tendencies will become just another corner of the internet, while the vast ever-growing hordes of ravelry.com users stick to their knitting and pay even less attention to their invisible and incomprehensible neighbours.

Eventually, like galaxies accelerating beyond the point where information can travel between them, we'll vanish in totalis into oblivion, the virtual universe having grown to the point where our insignificance has become infinite, our forgotten dreams of greatness reduced to the footnotes of datamining hostorians puzzling over the meaning of hubristic Felicia Day videos.
posted by Sparx at 9:09 PM on April 18, 2012


I presuming I would be missing the point of the exercise if I pointed out that rbi averages is not actually a thing.
posted by Adam_S at 9:17 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: being 40 on the internet
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:19 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


consuming a different form of entertainment, such as professional sports

Which makes you DEAD INSIDE, don't you remember?

Wicked dead inside, like the city of Boston. And all of us who know that RBI is a total, not an average.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:54 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was that really this discussion? I thought it more like "This is some unfocused wharglbargl that unfairly lumps a disparate group of people together, invents behavior they share in common, and criticizes them for that behavior."

It might have been the discussion, but only among people that are wrong. Because it was totally fair, and described preexisting behaviors that are very evident. It might have been a little thin, but only because more examples are always interesting.
posted by Snyder at 10:33 PM on April 18, 2012


MetaFilter: This person has an opinion.
posted by tzikeh at 10:33 PM on April 18, 2012


"In 25 years I have never seen this supposed pervasive bullying. Neither I, nor anyone I have met, actually grew up in a John Hughes movie. The faux oppression is insulting to those who are actually oppressed outsiders."

I'm surprised by this claim. But, hey, I'm almost 50 and so maybe I'm just suffering from Alzheimer's.

Anyway, my high school was exactly like a John Hughes movie. (The edits were disorienting but the soundtrack was fun.) I don't know if everything's changed in the last thirty years — it probably has for the same reasons as the existence of this thread. Before the 90s, the US's media culture and people's associated interests were much more limited and monolithic. And this was especially true in the smaller cities and smaller schools.

In my high school of about 600 people (in four grades) in a small town of 12,000 people, there was really only five or six social groups total, and that includes the people who were in no group whatsoever. Breakfast Club pretty much covered it. And there very much was a truly nerdy group which contained about half the most picked-on kids (the other half weren't "nerdy" in the sense we're discussing here, just generally social outcasts, including those who were developmentally disabled in some respect).

A somewhat larger group of us had some typically nerdy interests — the science-fiction, D&D, and all that — but we carefully regulated those interests lest they cause us to be labeled as nerds and, as part of that, we cultivated other interests and social relationships that mitigated the nerdiness.

It's worth mentioning that both my parents grew up in a much larger city and went to much larger high schools in the 60s, and their experience was not like mine or that much like BC, either. I talked with both of them about this. Both said that at their much larger high schools, there were many different subcultures, pretty much a place for everyone, and the context wasn't school-wide. But in mine, it very definitely was. And it didn't help that there was only four elementary schools, and only one junior high and one high school in town. We all had grown up with each other. Most of the social grouping was determined by sixth grade and never changed much after that. It was stifling and those unambiguous nerds were picked-on in exactly the ways that you're arguing are fictional stereotypes. Keep in mind, also, that this was before there were security guards in schools and such and fights and such were pretty common. And some of the teachers, especially the coaches, would join in on mocking the nerds and outcasts.

I think back in that time and place, for those badly bullied nerds, retreating into a self-contained world of science-fiction movies and books or whatever was a great comfort. In this it is not at all comparable to, say, being interested in sports. Being male and interested in sports was required. And if you couldn't be an athlete, then being avidly interested in sports was a path to being somewhat socially accepted as a male.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:12 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm a little surprised by all the LJ hate.

It's simple: girls use it to talk about icky girls stuff.

Livejournal really was the first place where anybody could become a blogger or diarist without having to know html or any other programming stuff. It had a very low barrier to entry and also the space for the same sense of community to appear as Usenet groups had. For a lot of not so technically orientated people it was perfect. A lot of those were young teenage women talking about the things young teenage women find interesting.

Larger geekdom has never forgiven Livejournal for doing that.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:24 PM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Incidently, everybody already knows that the defensive responses in this thread largely prove Nick Mamatas' point, don't you? Especially the ones who want to recast him as some basement dwelling loser still living with mama?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:32 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It had a very low barrier to entry

You know what I hate even more than livejournal? Amateur Youtube how-to videos. The barrier to entry is even lower, and the comparative quality is much much lower. And its so fucking hard to skip around the video (which is probably 60% wasted time), and find what you need, or find out if its even there. Fucking Youtube, go back to cat videos.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:33 PM on April 18, 2012


Nick Mamatas previously.

Heinlein said this twenty years before Mamatas was born. But castigating your market for its self-congratulatory tendencies is a really bad business strategy.
posted by gingerest at 11:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm proud to be a geek. A 40+ year old geek who was bullied for loving Dr Who and computers. A geek who lives in a world where people consider me different based on my interests.

There's always space for pride, and suggesting that geeks shouldn't feel good about themselves or their differences is nonsense.
posted by zoo at 11:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel that this is an important point, but it was made much better and more eloquently by MovieBob here: "The Big Picture: Words For Nerds"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:09 AM on April 19, 2012


I'm proud to be a geek. A 40+ year old geek who was bullied for loving Dr Who and computers. A geek who lives in a world where people consider me different based on my interests.

There's always space for pride, and suggesting that geeks shouldn't feel good about themselves or their differences is nonsense.


People should feel good about themselves. Pride should be for something you do, not something you consume.

I mean seriously, proud of liking one of the most popular TV programs of all time?
posted by Snyder at 12:57 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


In 25 years I have never seen this supposed pervasive bullying. Neither I, nor anyone I have met, actually grew up in a John Hughes movie. The faux oppression is insulting to those who are actually oppressed outsiders

My teachers in junior high decided that I was too smart for my own good. That is what they told me every time someone attacked me in the halls. Maybe if I tried harder people would like me.

In 8th grade someone pulled a gun on me and my friend while we in park near our school. We didn't get shot. I watched my friend, who was geekier that I was, break down and cry as he was questioned by the cops about who exactly had the gun. We, the victims, were thought of as pussies. We spent the next few years being assaulted, we fought in some way every day.

I ended up in court. I was unwilling to go to school, so I endeded up in truancy court. I would have ended up in jail if I wasn't smart enough to test into a good school.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:22 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had some tough years as a teenager in rural Canada in the 1980s. I won't claim any particular position on the Objective Scale of Oppression, though I know for sure that I wouldn't have changed places with any of the queer and first nations kids I knew, who generally had it much tougher than me.

Mine's a pretty typical nerd bio, I think. I suffered my fair share of bullies and attracted less than my fair share of romantic attention and I developed your typical nerd siege mentality, with all its fanatical narrow devotions.

Nowadays, like many nerds, I am super privileged and blessed and feel like I've inherited the fucking earth. As such, I kinda want to proclaim that this geek pride thing is over and unnecessary and that we should all move on, like Nick is doing here.

But just because I don't need geek pride, that doesn't mean that other people don't benefit from it. It feels presumptuous to look at young nerds coming up behind me and saying that I've left them a world that's totally safe for their kind. And just because geek culture outwardly appears as a marketing category nowadays doesn't mean that it is _only_ be a marketing category. Geek culture is also a community, and when you lash yourself to a community, you do enlarge yourself.
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:53 AM on April 19, 2012


I think the high school thing is a red herring. Teens growing up, especially those who have unusual interests/obsess about things/are shy or awkward/are socially maladjusted little weridos will have a difficult time of it, and even beyond that, most kids are searching for an identity and trying to establish kinship with others.

Creating an identity based around mutual appreciation for Star Trek and Tolkien (or BSG and Martin, or whatever,) is no different than being part of A/V or Drama club, or a sports team or what have you. They all have their in-group markers, and that creates community.

After high school though, people generally should develop that they are no longer bound by an in-group that they joined in high school. So-called geek pride also tends to have a huge problem with victimhood, continuing to carry signifiers of that well past their due date. I've seen grown-ass adults, here and elsewhere, complain about "jocks" as if that means something, as if "jock" and "geek" are tribes that we are born into an will forever dominate our lives. Well adjusted adults eventually realize, some time in their twenties, that high school was simply a part of their lives.

This isn't limited to "geeks" either. The past-his-prime football star who constantly relives his winning touchdown is seen as a pathetic, at best, figure. The difference is that "geek culture" lionizes this kind of in-group/out-group nonsense.
posted by Snyder at 2:37 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Person who likes to tear people down attacks people's coping mechanisms for dealing with people tearing them down.

It's easy enough to understand the tactical choice.
posted by Zed at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, did Obama flash a Vulcan salute or not? Inquiring minds, etc.
posted by jokeefe at 7:05 AM on April 19, 2012


Yep.
posted by jessamyn at 7:10 AM on April 19, 2012


Incidently, everybody already knows that the defensive responses in this thread largely prove Nick Mamatas' point, don't you?

Stupidity doesn't become smart just because you say, "I know everyone's gonna say I'm stupid...See! Proved my point!"
posted by straight at 7:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pride should be for something you do, not something you consume.

And this is where I get confused - why does Mamatas toss in, for example, fanfiction as something that 'doesn't matter' - that people shouldn't feel pride about? Isn't this the perfect example of how fans can turn consumer culture on its head - by taking something they are supposed to mindlessly consume and weilding it for their own purpose?
posted by muddgirl at 7:15 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


It might have been the discussion, but only among people that are wrong.

Well, gosh, if you say so.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:42 AM on April 19, 2012


why does Mamatas toss in, for example, fanfiction as something that 'doesn't matter

That stuck out to me too, muddgirl. It's among several inconsistent parts of the argument. However, I'm not that familiar with fanfiction. Is it just another generative device, or is it abused as a plot/character/tone/style crutch? I enjoy copyleft culture and hybrid genres/mashups (though I like Burroughs more than those 19th century zombie/vampire/austen books), but honestly, I too would rather an aspiring writer produce something completely original opposed to another Buffy/Spike erotic story or whatever.

I took the most generous interpretation, meaning the bullshit about if anyone cares or likes your fanfiction "doesn't matter" rather than the creative impulse itself. Again, I didn't really like the text. There's a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense. For example ...

Your lack of a high school sex life doesn't matter. (Nor does a prodigious high school sex life. Really, really.)

Just based on anecdata ... c'mon. At least some of the people I know who didn't have any high-school sexual activity seem to have been affected by it their whole lives. I think I would have been. Everybody's different, but nobody taught me anything about sex (aside from the fundamental biology) except me and my partners (and later the Internet). If I had not had any sexual partners in high school, I would have lacked a lot of confidence later in potential sexual situations, my ability to read partners would have been much worse, I wouldn't have identified nearly as much with women or women's causes--actually, my entire life would have been very different.

So, in terms of impressing anyone, no, my high-school sex life does not "matter." But as far as "mattering" to my life holistically, it's among the most important things ever.

/sexgeek

This rant seems more against fanbois/fangirls than "geeks" (defined as somebody really really into a subject, as opposed to being a Panglossian evangelist) or even consumerism per se. I didn't like it, but I can sympathize. I feel similarly about people who wear company logos (Nike, Adidas, Old Navy, Abercrombie) on their clothes without compensation.

No cheap-labor consumer pride!
posted by mrgrimm at 8:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


. However, I'm not that familiar with fanfiction. Is it just another generative device, or is it abused as a plot/character/tone/style crutch?

Of course it's used both ways, just like some 'original' genre fiction is transformative and some relies on genre conventions as a plot/character/tone/style crutch.

I too would rather an aspiring writer produce something completely original opposed to another Buffy/Spike erotic story or whatever

And I would rather an aspiring writer produce something completely original as opposed to another Anne Rice urban fantasy ripoff, but to say that urban fantasy 'doesn't matter' because it's not to my taste is insulting to urban fantasy writers and fans.
posted by muddgirl at 8:34 AM on April 19, 2012


meaning the bullshit about if anyone cares or likes your fanfiction "doesn't matter" rather than the creative impulse itself

...and if this is true, it's like saying J.K. Rowling's popularity 'doesn't matter', or Stephanie Meyer's popularity 'doesn't matter' - which is not only false, but sort of blindly, dangerously false, like saying that I was teased in elementary school because my bullies were jealous.
posted by muddgirl at 8:37 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, the whole piece is pretty insulting. I think that's the point. I guess. Or something something geeks obsessed with pop culture suck.

There is an interesting discussion down there somewhere, but it's lost amidst a sea of dreck. I guess what I don't grok at all are the "geeks" who are really just "superfans" i.e. the kid waiting 2 days in line to be the first to get Britney Spears tickets (I know that doesn't happen anymore, but you get it) doesn't seem that much different than the woman waiting 2 days in line to be the first to see the Batman move (or Watchmen or whatever).

...and if this is true, it's like saying J.K. Rowling's popularity 'doesn't matter', or Stephanie Meyer's popularity 'doesn't matter'

Well ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on April 19, 2012


I guess I'd say it mostly doesn't.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2012


So what you're saying is that the bullies WERE jealous of my intelligence? I have a sudden feeling of Geek Pride...

(If fanbases don't matter, then there is no consumer culture. If there is no consumer culture, then this rant is pointless.

If fanbases DO matter, then fanfiction fanbases do matter, and this rant is misguided.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2012


When looking back at my life, I'm often unsure of how good or bad it was. I mean, as a teenager, I felt it was pretty bad. I felt very much on the outside of the crowd, I felt I was smarter than the people that either pitied or tormented me, and I fantasized about somehow returning in radiance and glory. Looking back on it now, I don't think it was as bad as I imaged it would be. In addition, I was really awkward, so feeling awkward when you are so around other teenagers isn't exactly damning.

I remember hating "preps" and "jocks" and thinking that the people that I hung out with and I were going to be the true masters of the universe. But eventually I grew up. Eventually I realized that I had more in common with some of those preps and jocks than with my fellow geeks. I realized that some of the self-described geeks that I hung out with could be just as vindictive, ostracizing, and nasty as any slight from those in the more mainstream groups. But the biggest thing I finally came to understand was that it all didn't really matter that much. There were people smarter than me and that was okay. There were jerks, yeah, but that didn't mean I had to plot some sort of triumphant turning of the tables. Ultimately, I would just rather surround myself with people that share my values (friendship, charity, and thoughtfulness) than my interests.

I love Doctor Who, but it isn't the end-all-be-all of existence. If you don't like it, you're not some sort of subhuman and if you do like it, you're not somehow magically part of the intellectual elite. I go to gaming stores to buy my geeky little supplies and I hate some of the annoying, self-congratulatory counter-talk with gamers there, casting themselves as the unsung heroes of the world. Why would I feel more kinship with them than people I actually enjoy talking to? I certainly don't need to lord over those that "just don't get it."

Ultimately, I find that unwarranted geek pride can have three negative consequences: 1) it prevents many from understanding humility and working on their own limitations as opposed to overcompensating or pretending everyone is just jealous, 2) it can cause these people to unfairly castigate groups that they find are enemies like the aforementioned "jocks" and "preps", and 3) it causes people to be blind to how destructive, violent, and cruel their fellow geeks can be, both to them and others.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


I think Lord Chancellor is saying exactly what Nick Mamatas is saying, albeit in a completely different way.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:22 AM on April 19, 2012


Yeah, Lord Chancellor wrote the much better version of that essay.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:24 AM on April 19, 2012


For those not familiar with Mamatas, this is basically what he does. I mean, he's a writer I guess, but his real job is Having Abrasive Opinions on the Internet. He's been posting smug rants on livejournal for nigh on a decade now. I'm amazed he's still up to it.
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:07 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least some of the people I know who didn't have any high-school sexual activity seem to have been affected by it their whole lives. I think I would have been. Everybody's different, but nobody taught me anything about sex (aside from the fundamental biology) except me and my partners (and later the Internet). If I had not had any sexual partners in high school, I would have lacked a lot of confidence later in potential sexual situations, my ability to read partners would have been much worse, I wouldn't have identified nearly as much with women or women's causes--actually, my entire life would have been very different.

So the close to half of high schoolers who haven't had sex by age 18 are, like, ruined for life or something? Really?
posted by naoko at 9:28 AM on April 20, 2012


So the close to half of high schoolers who haven't had sex by age 18 are, like, ruined for life or something? Really?

"my entire life would have been very different." did i say better or worse? I'm not even gonna make that call for myself, let alone anyone else. On the flip side, if I did not have partners in high school or had different partners/experience, perhaps I would have been more free to explore my own personal sexuality and come to realizations earlier than I did in my own life.

It would have radically shifted my development paths to different ages, certainly changing my life in several aspects, probably changing my future direction totally, so yeah, I'll stand by it.

I'm not claiming anything radical. I'm just nitpicking. Your high-school sex life matters as much as your twenties sex life, your thirties sex life, etc. For most people, it matters, as one of many factors in peoples' lives.

To say your high-school sex life doesn't matter is like saying your high-school GPA or SAT score or college degree doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, of course not. In the practical aspects of your life and its course, of course they matter.

Also, to my friend who got his ex-girlfriend pregnant the week before he left for college, then stayed home to raise a child with her, and to all young parents, yeah, high-school sex matters.

It is nitpicking, sure, but it's also an indication of a limited perspective.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 AM on April 20, 2012


did i say better or worse?
Well, since you said less confident, less able to read people, and less identification with women and women's causes, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your implication was "worse." And you didn't say "there are people I know who did have sex in high school have been affected their whole lives," you only said you knew people who didn't have sex in high school have been affected their whole lives - this suggests you weren't actually thinking about pregnant teenagers in your first comment.

But given your follow-up comment, if point is just "our experiences shape us" - well, duh. I don't think anyone's disagreeing with that. I think the point he's trying to make is that it doesn't need to be a point of pride one way or the other, and that one or the other doesn't fundamentally make you a better or worse person.
posted by naoko at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


And, not to harp on the "kids don't *really* get bullied -- why are you geeks so bitter" refrain...

Boing boing just posted about this space-enthusiast who was bullied to the point of paralysis, fortunately he received hella compensation from the school district that didn't do shit, and he's able to move forward, as difficult as it will be for him now. Of course, maybe the bully was another geek/nerd. There's no info on who his bully was. It may have been a popular jock, it may have been a Nelson Muntz lower-class individual.

But bulliness happens.
posted by symbioid at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2012


snyder: I'm proud of what I consume and what I create.

I guess you could tell me what I should be proud of, but given the fact that as an emotion, pride isn't really something I can switch on or off at will, it's unlikely that I'm going to do it.
posted by zoo at 3:30 PM on April 23, 2012


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