Geek As Citizen: Deep Geeks

Pit Hole Ladder

One of the things that has troubled me about geek culture is that there’s parts of it that seem strangely alien and disconnected. I’m not talking the stereotype of the guy living in his mom’s basement (he’s probably busy with a startup these days). I’m talking the fact that a set of geeks can be both socially engaged, yet shockingly and even brutally clueless and insensitive.

It’s reading about women’s experience among Bitcoin enthusiasts or ignorant bro-geek activity at Dropbox. It’s wondering how people can spin weird techno-utopian political fantasies with no grounding in logic – because you’ve got the brains to at least spin these fantasies.  It’s every time someone in Silicon Valley says something clueless about the homeless and gentrification and I wonder if they even read the paper or watch the news.

And yet, some of the people I’m discussing seem to be more extraverted and socially engaged. We meet geeks who when they are insensitive, or bigoted, or clueless shock us because they’re the kind of people we don’t expect to be that way. How can someone be so smart and so bright and even social and yet still seem to live in their own world?

I’ve covered my suspicions that marketing has affected bigotry in geekdom. And I still stand by my theory geekdom in general is far more tolerant than its parent culture – but the depths can be just as bad as said parent culture. I just want to know why.

After some analysis, I’d like to propose there’s a subpopulation of geeks, mostly in the technology, media, and gaming sector that I call Deep Geeks. Read on.  I got a rabbit hole to show you.

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Geek As Citizen: Tolerance As Part of Geekdom

In the last few years the question of tolerance in geekdom gets brought up. As of late it’s been the ridiculous obsession some members of the geek community have with ferreting out the mythical “fake geek” girl. Other times there are questions of racism, transphobia, and homobpobia. The issue over “Ender’s Game” raised this specter again, and after reading this thoughtful post at Lady Geek Girl, I felt I should address this again in a slightly different context than I have previously.

By that different context, I mean in the larger sense of citizenship – both in the large and as citizens of our own communities.  Also with a bit less of some of the snark that I’ve used in some of my previous writings.

So, to state it simply – intolerance of others in the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the like do not have a place in geek life nor identifiable geek culture. Furthermore I will argue that this is important to geeks as citizens, both in their community and in the larger communities – and that in some cases, we should fully understand the impact of bias and its negative effects.

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