What is it that makes geeks different? Why is it that we love the things we love?
Most of us have seen Wil Wheaton’s response to a little girl at the Denver ComicCon who wanted to know how she should deal with being called a nerd, and if you haven’t, you should watch it here. It’s an excellent soliloquy on what it means to be a nerd, the people who don’t understand us, and what we can do to bridge the divide.
But what is it about us that chooses the oddball sci-fi, the epic fantasy, the stuff that’s just a little bit too smart, and why do we love it so much?
For me, it’s all about choices. Some people lose themselves in football, basketball or soccer. Others go for ice dancing, needlepoint or duck hunting. And we all know people who disappear into the black blinking boxes of technology, the engineering behind what makes the hardware work. All of those are completely viable options, but what makes geeks so different?
I think the answer is that geeks want something more than goals, points, trophies or functioning software to make us happy.
For geeks, I think it’s all about stories.
Let me tell you a story…it’s an old one…old as time…
There’s a hole in us. There’s a hole that wonders if the world works as it should, a hole that questions whether justice will be served, a hole that wonders if the good guys (us) are actually going to win out in the end. There’s a part of us that desperately wants to know that children are going to be protected, intelligence & wisdom will overcome ignorance & ruthlessness, and that human beings are capable of being more than selfish opportunistic animals.
We need Batman to stand up for the victims. We need Doctor Who to outsmart the powers beyond our control. We need the Starks to deal justice upon the Lannisters. We need the Enterprise on a path of discovery led by a compass of moral beliefs. We need Hellboy to overcome his own demonic nature. We need Malcom Reynolds to fight for the freedom to live as we see fit. We need Rick Grimes to keep hope alive when all seems lost.
We need stories.
Yes we do.
Stories are fuel. Fuel for our own choices, our own behavior; fuel to remind ourselves of what we can be; fuel to keep the fires within us burning bright. Because the thing that makes geeks different is that we see the world as it should be. There’s a hole in us, and that hole is filled by knowing that truth, justice and freedom are more powerful than deceit, dishonor and despair. The hole in us is filled by knowing that we can make the difference, and the stories remind us that we are right, and that we can be the change we want to see in the world.
You can’t get that from a hockey game or a foxhunt or a piece of code. Those accomplishments are too small for us. Geeks need stories…because stories give us the power we need to be the people we want to become.
Get out there and feed the fire.
A.R. Witham is a multiple Emmy® and PromaxBDA award-winning writer. His most recent project is a book app for iPad called Black Jack: A Moving Novel. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/black-jack-a-moving-novel/id734453929?mt=8