Tag Archives: fantasy

To my fellow nerds, I say, be better!

I am reaching out to a specific group with this post. I want to talk to the men and women of geekdom. If that is you, I ask that you please pay close attention to the following plea.

Ahem…

Geeks, dorks, countrynerds. Lend me your ears!

We have lost our way. We were supposed to be the nice people. The ones who accepted the bullied and the underdogs. We were supposed to be the ones who encouraged learning and tried to build confidence in each other. And if someone wanted to be part of our community, we didn’t chase them away.

What happened?

I’m seeing far too much nastiness in the geek community. Admittedly, this is a problem that is present all over society. I don’t know what the big answer is, but I can at least try to talk to those with whom I should have some common ground. So I am addressing you, my people. I speak to those of us who have at some point been punished for loving the things that we do. That is the common thread of those who have earned the geek and nerd tag. We got shunned or called names or physically attacked. In many cases, it was a combination of these things. But things have changed and it’s a little more mainstream. You can love sci-fi and fantasy, comic books and games, cosplay and computers and science and mythology and all kinds of stuff. It’s not 100 percent ridicule free, but it isn’t seen as that unusual either.

The problem is we’re attacking each other now. We’re being our own bullies. It needs to stop. We can all do better.

What happened to the whole idea of treating people like you want to be treated? It’s bad enough that so much of the larger world tends toward nastiness. We don’t need to get sucked up into that shit when it comes to geek culture. We don’t need nasty cliques in the cosplay community. We don’t need online trolls attacking women and kids from behind a gamertag. If someone posts some fantasy-themed artwork or a picture of themselves in a new costume we need to be supportive. Don’t rip apart their work. Don’t mock the artist’s technique or choice of subject. Don’t body shame the cosplayer or question their “nerd cred” on the character. If being kind is too difficult then try silence. You don’t like what you see? Fine. Move along. If you can’t be supportive, don’t be destructive. There is no need to harm anyone.

Is it because the old stereotypes blended? Are people angry because you have athletes that like comic books and nerds who watch sports now? Hey, I’m the classic sports-hating nerd and I’ve got no problem having friends who are football fans. We aren’t the authority on which person gets to like what fandom!

I think we can be better. I know we can! We are a small portion of humanity. If we can’t fix our own shit, how can we expect anything else to get better? So please. Try harder. Be kinder, smarter, more accepting. Be the nerdy, geeky champions I know we can be. Humanity needs us to be better. The multiverse needs us to be better. We need us to be better!

The quest for cool

I am a few months shy of my 36th birthday. For better or for worse, I am considered an adult. A grown up. A somewhat productive member of society. I like to think that I’ve had some success in my life to go along with some of the failure. For instance, I have never left the house without remembering to put on pants. Hey, I didn’t say I always set the bar high! You try walking around town with no pants and see how far you get. I dare you.

Anyway, one thing I don’t think I ever quite reached was that point where a person becomes cool. That’s right. One of the holy artifacts of high school. The mantle of cool. That point when you look in the mirror and not only think it yourself, but you KNOW that everyone else thinks the same thing. You are deemed to be cool. It’s a quest everyone starts in their youth, whether we realize it or not, and it never seems to go away.

So why am I not cool? For starters, this is not a word I’ve heard others use to describe me. That’s not to say I don’t ever get compliments, all of which I appreciate. Of course I’ve heard some less flattering things. Self-described beta male, remember? We kind of invite a certain level of mockery. But even that isn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes just teasing from friends (or a loving yet snarky wife) that is meant in fun. But the point is, I can’t say I get told that I am cool.

I’m pretty sure I don’t dress cool. When I’m not dressed for work, I wear jeans and a T-shirt I likely purchased from ThinkGeek . Maybe a flannel shirt or sweatshirt over that. My style hasn’t changed much since the 90’s. I just like to be comfortable.

The things I like tend to lean towards nerdy. I enjoy fantasy novels and I play Dungeons and Dragons. If you haven’t yet read it, my last post was dedicated to superheroes. I have an undying love of all things Muppet. Seriously, you don’t know how excited I am that I get to watch Sesame Street with my kids. I own an R2-D2 bottle opener. I make up songs about our cat. Now, I realize some of these things are more acceptable to love now than they once were. Saying you like comics or the Lord of the Rings won’t make you quite the bully target that they used to. Neither will playing board games. But are they considered cool. I doubt it. I’m pretty sure making up a song about the cat to the tune of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” will always be very far from cool.

The funny thing is, I’m not quite sure what would make me cool. What is the current standard? I’m pretty sure that by the time I caught up to it, the definition will have changed again. Is it about confidence? If that’s the case, I think there are fewer cool people in the world than we realize. I don’t know many people who are void of insecurities. The ones who are may very well think they are cool. Those few people also happen to be totally oblivious to their flaws or the consequences of their actions. If that is what it takes to be cool, I don’t know that it’s worth the trade. I like that I am capable of introspection. Sure, I sometimes do this to a fault, but I think it proves that I’m still able to learn.

One last thing. I am the father of two little girls. One day, they will be two teenage girls. There is no way in Hell that they will think I am cool. What teenager really thinks that their parents are cool? So I like to think that I have one up on any parents who, unlike myself, are of the opinion that they are cool. I have the benefit of saying to my kids, “You don’t think I’m cool? That’s fine. I’m used to it. Now help Daddy find his dragon coffee mug.”