You know…I got my first computer in 1992. Can you imagine that? Most people can’t even fathom the fact that the internet was invented in 1969, let alone people having computers in the early 90s. I was seven, and amazed with computers after my aunt introduced me to parser games, the first one being King’s Quest 3. I can still imagine what the floppy disk looks like.
Other seven year old girls were asking for Barbie dolls. I was asking for a Sega Genesis, and a computer, like my aunt had. So that year for Christmas, dear old Saint Nick got me a Genesis. I was grateful, and I loved it. But my aunt gave me something even more incredible. A tandy computer, complete with an A: drive and a B: drive (or as I would call it, “the big disk drive.”)
When I went to school after winter break, I told everyone about my new computer. I was so excited. We had to write a small paper about what we got for Christmas, so I naturally wrote about my Tandy with the “big disk drive.” I sat down when I was done reading it to my second grade classroom, super proud and cocky, knowing that I was given the best gift out of all the students!
And then it happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a group of kids snickering and whispering. And then I heard, “What a geek!”
It wasn’t the last time I would be teased for being a geek. The kids were cruel, often calling me a computer nerd, an ugly geek, and boring, up until the early 2000s, even. A girl with a computer? Shouldn’t she be playing with dolls or baking cookies, or hanging out with friends?
I found comfort in my computer for the longest time. When the internet became more popular amongst households, I jumped on it. I had to be apart of this new networking phenomenon. Up until recently though, the computers and the internet were not on the “popular” side.
Today, you are hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t own their own personal computer, or a laptop, with an internet connection. Back in the 90s, when I had them both, I was teased. But now, I would be teased if I didn’t have a computer or spend time surfing. What was geeky and nerdy behavior then, is now…well….common.
In fact, it’s now “cool” to be a geek. It’s becoming more and more popular to be into nerdy things, especially if you are a female. But how did things change so rapidly? What does it take to truly be a geek or a nerd these days? Throughout time, the terms “nerd” and “geek” have had negative attachments to them. Not just in movies or in fictional stories, but in real life – especially in the 90s where everyone was striving to be hip, and cool, not smart, or nerdy. (And I am speaking in general terms here, there of course were individuals back then, like myself, who went the nerdy route.)
Since geeky and nerdy are now the cool things to be, then what actually constitutes as a geek or a nerd? And what takes it’s place? Or maybe nothing took it’s place, maybe things have just changed as time went on, but if that is the case, are geeks and nerds still geeks and nerds based on it’s prior definitions? Or do we all fit in now? Can the geeks live in peace with the non-geeks?
This is mostly rhetorical of course, but I find it interesting to reflect on how culture has changed, and how what I used to be teased relentlessly for, is now what I am praised for. Hell, I have guys ask me out when I mention I can program! Where we you people when I was in high school, huh?
Regardless of what is cool or not, I will always want to be the geeky one – the one who finds more enjoyment on her computer than at a party or social gathering, the one who programs all weekend, instead of parties, and the one who prefers a game of tetris over a blunt to get her high. The square.
But, am I okay with being the square. And as long as there are computers to be played, programs to be programmed, and an internet to waste my time on, then I will be there, nerding it up and having a blast doing it.