This post on Tumblr about geekiness and gender roles has some good points, although I’m not sure I agree with all of it. I sometimes get confused by geeky people who marginalize others, with my reasoning being that they’ve generally been marginalized themselves. It seems that the only way some people feel they belong is if they can exclude others, even if they’ve been the excluded ones in the past. And I don’t know that it’s entirely fair to say that geek culture looks down on service workers and promotes the idea that nerdy people should be in positions of authority. Sure, there are nerds who feel that way, but is it the norm? I don’t know. From my own perspective as someone who enjoys a fair amount of geek culture but doesn’t see myself as being in with that crowd any more than I am with any other, service work isn’t something I want to do, but I have respect for the people who can. They have skills that I don’t, and many of their jobs are going to continue to be in demand when more vaguely defined ones are not. That said, I do think there’s often a certain amount of competitiveness in nerd culture, perhaps due partially to the emphasis on games, but there’s more to it than that. I’ve gotten to the point where I try not to compare myself with others, although I’ll certainly slip at times. Looking back at my school days, though, I remember being upset when I didn’t get the highest grade on a math test, as if I had to be the best. A large part of it was probably that I WASN’T the best at much else, and that was an area in which I could actually feel proud of myself. That doesn’t excuse the competitive behavior, but I believe it explains it to a certain degree.
Maybe that isn’t true for others, but I get the feeling it often is. It’s the same reason nerds tend to escape into fantasy games, because there they CAN make something of themselves. I find the idea of fantasy sports kind of funny, because I generally think of following sports as a hobby for the non-nerdy (although there certainly are some sports nerds), yet there the sports fans are doing the same thing as the role-playing geeks. I would say slaying an imaginary dragon is much more impressive than having a victorious imaginary football team, but to each their own.
I do find that there’s a certain connection between many modern nerds and the ideal of the Renaissance Man, like every person with intellectual tendencies wants to be the next Leonardo da Vinci. I guess I’m stuck there because I can’t draw worth a fig. Some interpretations of the Renaissance Man that I’ve heard also require a certain amount of athletic ability, however. So maybe the comparison to Plato’s philosopher kings is more apt after all.