I call myself a professional geek. I am quite proud to say that. Yet, oddly, I can remember when geek was an insulting term and not the definition–bordering–on–compliment it is today.
Or in short, I remember the 80s. If you don't, you're actually missing quite a lot, but I digress.
Now, being an old geek, I remember when the term was basically insulting, sort of a version of "egghead" and implying a kind of pathology or maladjustment. I remember when it was virtually the same as "nerd".
Today, geek a proud label–a label that defines a lot of very successful people in the media, and has an air of brains, rebellion, and a kind of loveable weirdness. I of course, have a theory on how this happened.
(I'm a geek, I always have theories).
See, is this the interesting thing about we geeks: we like knowledge and we like to share.
First, we love to know things and learn things. We like to discover. We enjoy the “treasure hunt” of finding Easter eggs on DVDs and in games. We like a good in joke. We like to know and of course, show off that knowledge.
There is a thrill in knowing things and often being the first person know things as well.
It also we geeks love to share. Knowledge is no fun if you don't share it with people. In-jokes and obscure trivia are no fun without someone to laugh about it with. I don't think geeks are antisocial – geeks throughout the years have just been selectively social. We want to share the knowledge and jokes with people who get it.
Thus geeks, in a way, propagate their geekiness. Sometimes within their circles, but also without.
I've come to the conclusion that “geekiness" will inevitably spread – and thus the change of the internally and externally defined geeks from outcasts to hip subculture was inevitable. This is because geeks are about internalizing knowledge and sharing it – and this is often spiced up with a bit of "hidden" knowledge or a "treasure hunt" mentality that intrigues people.
Thus, once geeks were a recognizable subculture, a name was placed upon a given cultural/personality type. This type loved knowledge and sought people to share it – and usually did cool things with it on the way. The label "geek" meant people had something to call this group – and thus people could also adapt the title as they saw and enjoyed the benefits of geekery (games, programs, comics, movies, etc.)
Geeks of course, loving to share knowledge, just kept doing what they did. Oddly, I don't think if the term "geek" had come up that "geek culture" could have spread as easy – the identifier was needed.
(This is, incidentally, probably part of why I obsess over defining the "Geekonomy" as I know there's something there).
So geek culture,geekiness, and professional geeks like me were inevitable. Geekiness, once identified and identifiable, was going to spread. Thus we, the geeks, will find more people like us – and that will affect professions, culture, business, and more . . .
As for what's next? Well, I need to theorize about a bit more.
Fortunately being a geek, that's one of the things I do.