sophocles: (Rennie)
[personal profile] sophocles
Dear Geek Culture,

We can still be friends, but you’re just not who I fell in love with anymore. When we first met, you were amazing. You still are sometimes,which is why this is so hard on me. You introduced me to so many cool things, and ideas. You taught me that it was okay to like the things I liked. You taught me the value of intellectual escapism, and being the awkward smart one was okay, that you heroes didn’t need to carry a gun, that a farm boy can save the galaxy, and that standing up for things was important. You taught me to be strong. You taught me to be smart. You taught me to be resourceful. My God, you were amazing!

But you changed. Or maybe I changed. Maybe I’m romanticizing our past, and it was never that good. Maybe I was just a kid, and you were... You know. I can’t really stress this enough. When I went to my first Star Trek convention in the summer of 1992, it was magical. I heard Brent Spinner speak. I bought a handmade button referencing a book I loved, and still loved. “Visit Beautiful Bethselamin,” it read, “And don’t forget your receipts.”

I’m sorry. I just need to get through this. You’re not that thing anymore.

It was a few years later that I started volunteering for conventions. I went with my best friend to a staff meeting for the Big Convention in town. You know the one. We were so excited. It was like we were running off with the circus. I volunteered at that convention for a little over decade, through most my 20s, and into my 30s. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. Please believe me when I say that.

But then...

I don’t know when it happened. It wasn’t all at once to be sure. I get that you are always bringing in new people, and that’s okay. That’s what I like about you. I even like some of the new stuff that gets absorbed into you. And sure, some things get forgotten. You remember when Babylon 5 was the big thing? There were people who hadn’t even seen Star Wars or Star Trek showing up to conventions, and that was okay. Really. Because they were still the same kinds of people. It didn’t matter if it was Babylon 5, or Trek, or Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, or Buffy, or Firefly, or Stargate. or... You know the list. You know the fandoms that have come and gone. Reminding you of them, doesn’t change anything. They’re not what I loved about you.

It was that thing that all of those things had in common, the list that’s even bigger than the things I rattled off. It was the commonality. It was the shared language. It was the fact I could say “grok” and people, well, groked what I was saying, sometimes even if they had never read that particular book. It was that joy of talking about fictional worlds like they were places that we would visit for a weekend. And when we well got together, it was like those worlds pooled together in a glorious new world that-

But something changed. I didn’t even notice it at first. It was like the frog in the boiling pot of water. So gradual was the change, I didn’t even notice until now. You became obsessed with gate keeping, and doing a bad job of it. You let in the drunken frat boys who saw geek culture as their opportunity to hit on women in costume, and make fun of the fans who had already been there. You treated cosplay like a fetish, and you became a weird twisted parody of yourself. Some how, you stopped being a safe place.

I know, I know. You’re working on it. You’ve made progress. I guess. It’s really hard to tell sometimes. I still see those lines being drawn. I still see the emphasis being put on getting drunk, and getting laid. I still see the blurred distinction between geek culture and pop culture. I still see the manic pace at which you seem to be destroying yourself, and I feel helpless to stop it.

And believe me, I understand. If everyone is a geek, than no one is. So we have to define what a geek is, and to do that we have to keep the posers out. But by keeping the posers out we lose what- No, you lose what makes you special.

I’m sorry. I seem to spinning my wheels. I think there is a part me that will always love you. Let me rephrase. I will always love you. I have come to accept that I will always be a part of you. I learned who I was because of you. That can’t really change. I’ll see you around. I’ll see you at the smaller gatherings, and maybe one day the big ones again. I want to introduce you to my children. I want them to have the same experiences I did when I first knew you.

But you have to better than you are right now.

A Disillusioned Geek

P.S. You can still call me if you ever need talk.

Date: 2015-09-20 12:41 pm (UTC)
parentingtheriot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] parentingtheriot
dear disillusioned geek,

you are me. geek culture *is* geeks. where have you been?

geek culture


seriously though, from where i stand, those problems that you've somehow only now noticed have always been there, from the gatekeeping, to the mistreatment of women, to the emphasis on debauchery, to self-referential give and take with popular culture. they've always been there. because geeks don't exist in a vacuum. geeks from everywhere will carry the attitudes and prejudices they hold from everywhere "out there" to "in here", and that means that "geek space" does not mean "safe space". it's possible that the growing popularity of "geekdom" just makes these issues more noticeable because the mathematics of scale. and it's also possible that these things are becoming more noticeable because more people are speaking up about it and are unwilling to let the bad parts slide. regardless, because there will always be geeks, there will always be geek culture. so, how we keep the magic and minimize the worst of the mundanity is up to us.

Date: 2015-09-22 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You remain one of the wisest people I know.


sophocles: (Default)

April 2017


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