Who said you are boring or a social misfit. Today is Geek Pride Day!
Taunted and ostracised for what appears to be irrational obsession with hobbies — reading (mostly sci-fi books), computer games and some offbeat ones — and an evident lack of social graces, geeks counter the sneers by asserting their ‘geekiness' on May 25, observed as Geek Pride Day. Thirty-five years ago, GPD started as a ‘sci-fi fan day' dedicated to “A New Hope”, the first Star Wars film. Only in recent years, GPD has served as the gun-powder for a counter-offensive on a world that looks on geeks as social misfits.
“It's okay to be a geek” is the overriding message of the day. Robert A. Hayden, the progenitor of the Geek Code v3.12 (geekcode.com) — a symbol-filled document that can be personalised by any geek to help other geeks get to know him better — writes in the preamble: “So you think you are a geek? The first step is to admit to yourself your geekiness. No matter what anyone says, geeks are people too; geeks have rights. So take a deep breath and announce to the world that you are a geek. Your courage will give you strength that will last you forever.”
‘Geekiness' is difficult to describe, let alone spot. Advertising and marketing professional Ryan Easdon says, “People given to a hobby of an intellectual nature are often labelled geeks.” When he began to read up on cars and trucks with the intention of starting a scale-model collection of these vehicles, Ryan was seen as geeky. “A geek can be partly compared to anyone marching to a different drummer. He is misunderstood until his self-absorbing work reaches the point of culmination: when my collection grew and my friends saw the diverse array of machines on display, they were wonder-struck.”
Engineering student B. Prassanna, who was part of a five-member Chennai team that won NIOT's national-level autonomous underwater vehicle design contest for 2012, believes the word geek is frequently heard on campuses. “Whenever a student is taken up with a project and has little time for his friends, geekiness is conferred on him. I have called my friends geeks and I have been called one. If the popular definition of a geek as social awkward person whose identity derives solely from his solitary pursuits holds good, then I am yet to see a geek.”
Grappling with the question — “Who is a geek, after all?” — Hayden writes in the Geek Code that geeks have a social life, only that their social interactions are restricted to other geeks. He concludes: “The fact is that society is not kool enough to be included in our activities.” That is real Geek Pride!
P.S. May 25 is also observed as ‘Towel Day' in a tribute to “The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy” a sci-fi comedy radio and television series, and later book, by Douglas Adams. Readers besotted with Discworld by Terry Pratchet celebrate it as ‘Glorious 25 May'.