Geek Of All Trades
Motto: A geeky guy was going to buy a fridge. He chose a small one, barely bigger than an Xbox, and he was already planning how to fit it inside furniture and how to stack juices, beer and snacks into it. The saleswoman, an older lady, asked rather puzzled: „Isn’t it just a bit too small? How are you going to fit raw food inside, for when you cook?”
What Is A Geek?
A computer scientist. A master mechanic. A brilliant mathematician. An art expert. A sci-fi reader who even tried to write himself or herself a few stories. A champion gamer. A history buff.
At least nowadays.
The original meaning of the geek (incidentally, at the time, the word geek applied only to a male…) has been an eccentric carnival freak show performer, who ate glass and bit the heads of living chicken. What most people disregard is the fact this was the only dictionary meaning of the word, as late as 1976. Less than two generations back. At the human history scale, yesterday. The computer or engineering geek raised to wealth and power is a modern invention.
As late as 2006, the geek was „a bright young man turned inward, poorly socialized, who felt so little kinship with his own planet that he routinely traveled to the ones invented by his favorite authors, who thought of that secret, dreamy place his computer took him to as cyberspace—somewhere exciting, a place more real than his own life, a land he could conquer, not a drab teenager’s room in his parents’ house”.
Emphasis is mine. In the dull job market post-crisis, people outline the bright intelligence, computer talent, devotion to his work and school, for these are the things which make people usefully employed and fed. You bully the geeks until you work for one. You bash them until you’re patching the tires for their Porsches.
But even as the guy (see above, a bright young man…) pushes himself through school and work, these change little of the fact he is still a geek.
Do You Believe In Yourself?…
One can easily learn sciences and crafts. It’s a matter of self-discipline, far more important than intelligence or talent. There are people who changed career plenty of times in their lives. Went to school as late as early retirement age. Trained madly in sports and games. Theodore Roosevelt himself, the archetype of machismo, built himself brick by brick from a gangly youth afflicted with asthma to the war hero and President. Who graduated from Harvard and Columbia and published his first historical treatise when he was 24. The motivational speakers post-1980 bombard us day by day with examples of hard work raised from the bottom. Their trade flourishes as long as people are seeking to raise themselves to higher station in life, to earn and spend, save and invest, learn and work, read and improve. Earlier in human history people who were born low stood low, now they strive upwards.
Training only gives you mastery in technical matters, from sports to astrophysics. Matters where the rules are both clearly defined and consistent. There is a set of movements one does in football, a number of rules and formulas in maths, a set of rules in engineering and others in fencing or baseball. Practice and study do the rest, thousands of hours spent. Hours during which the geek can retreat from the outside world in a world of people like himself, work or club mates.
Do you say geeks run only in the field of computers, as Hollyweird taught you? You’d be surprised to meet a geeky guy who earned the black belt in karate. Or who turned himself into a master mountaineer, able to spend the night on Everest. Or who can teach lessons in sex to porn actors. What can stop him from training? Can you compete with him, when he invested a truckload of money and time into training? Would you do the same effort? Most likely not.
But, as a guy who learned the human nature by knife, bullet and fist on his own skin used to say, just because the geek achieves brilliant results and surrounds himself with a small group of like-minded people doesn’t mean he isn’t still dysfunctional.
Training gives you skills and crafts. It’s a bit less successful into teaching you how to be human.
As the basketball coaches used to say „you can’t teach someone how to be 7 ft tall”.
A poorly socialized guy may get the technical stuff right. And yet there are some other details which still betray him as …a bit off. He is only half there. He may say perfectly rational things about his passion and his handiwork. A lifetime of bullying taught him how to hide the real motivations behind. But being poorly socialized, he can’t hide them 100%. Even as there are some people who teach you how to understand the world around by reading cues, this is still a bit useless when the geek’s mind processes the cues differently from the everyman. Talking to them gives the annoying feeling they are a different species, one who plays a role to fit in. They are more like someone who learned a lot about sex by watching porn for years… or they even did just that, but they are ashamed to tell. (And their attitude tells it better than words. Their movements are nearly perfectly timed, their flexibility is good, muscle development nice, they are usually very gentle and polite. Too good. The fact they are never spontaneous in regards to sex, not even when they’re wrong, is a bit unsettling. Especially for a woman.)
You know, when you’re about to decorate your home, the choice of materials may be right, just as craftsmanship. But the guest, even better when the guest is female, may ask some other unpleasant questions. She may be put off by the fact you have absolutely no family photo around. Or by seeing that your computer is the only object carefully and meticulously dusted. Or by the fact you have no visible fridge for when you need to cook. Don’t you ever cook?