Every week or two I hear yet another comment on “Geek culture” or “Nerd culture” and they usually fall into the following categories:
- The culture is now “so mainstream”
- Our culture isn’t what it used to be
- The culture has “X” problem in it.
This is usually followed by a mixture of criticism, hand-wringng, arguments, denial, and occasional outbursts of people being asses, depending on the subject. Discussing what “our” culture is for we geeks and nerds and otaku often seems to be a sensitive subject (which is ironic considering we can calmly discuss a MLP/Sherlock slashfic crossover and use the term “Jungian” appropriately*).
Lately the subjects I’ve seen have been a mixture of “Comic con sold out” (which I’ve heard for years), “young kids don’t get what being a geek/nerd is” (which I expect to be followed by a call to get off someone’s lawn), and that “geek/nerd cultures have issues with sexism/racism/other biases” (which we know but rarely deal with).
All this discussion however misses a vital point, one I want to reiterate for us nerds, otaku, geeks, gamers, comic fans, fangirls, fanboys, and more. It’s something often missed in any culture discussion.
We get to decide.
Look it’s our culture. We’re the people who experience it, who make it, who define it, and even when there’s cultural forces larger than us we can define our sphere of it.
If our culture is “too mainstream” ask yourself if that’s a problem, if that’s the truth, and if it matters. Build your own connections, community, spheres of interest, etc. Or celebrate the fact that being good with computers and hip to pop culture makes you a kind of nerd sex god (especially with the paycheck).
If people “don’t get what things used to be like” tell them, help them, and most of all stop being an old grump who thinks we never needed more than 151 Pokemon. Cultures change and evolve, new people come in, and if you’re one of the old farts (as I am), make sure they’re welcome educated, and have a culture to live in. We’re all going to go to the Big Convention in the Sky someday, so let’s make the people who will replace us welcome.
If there’s problems in our culture – and there is, let’s be honest – then we better get off our backsides and fix them. Some may be new, some may be old, but all are a pain in the neck, so let’s see what we can do. Hell, if we’re all getting so mainstream and having to educate a next generation of fans, we can leave our culture better than we found it.
Hard? Difficult? Challenging? Damn right. No reason not to do it. Here’s a few places to start:
- Write and rant! Go blog, post, write, speak on the subjects and get people educated. May I recommend, I dunno . . . here at Nerdcaliber?
- Train! This is one of my favorites – go help people in the culture by showing them new skills or abilities or knowledge. My big thing is helping people leverage their fandom in careers – you may have another cause.
- Be the right person in the right place. Be a good role model, do the right thing.
- Organize! Help with cons, events, etc. so people get together and perpetuate and improve their culture.
- Reach out! get people into your groups, cons, events, etc.
It’s our culture, my nerds, geeks, fans, and otaku. Sure we inherited it, sure it’s mutating and morphing. But it’s ours, it’s who we are and improves who we are. It’s a great legacy.
So let’s stop worrying and start building.
Don’t get off my lawn – let’s all get together on that lawn and have a party. Just clean up afterwards.**
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/
* This is not to suggest the crossover would involve Carl Jung. But then again, hey, internet . . .
** Also I don’t care about the number of Pokemon, but it is getting insanely high.