For all the great things we can say about geekdom, our tolerance for change, or should I say, our total lack thereof, is one of the darkest spots on our collective souls. As much as we beg for something new and different, we almost always freak when somebody throws out a a genuine curve ball. There is a reason the term “nerd rage” has become so widely used and understood. A majority of the time, all the venom and bile the community spews is in relation to a change we don’t like, which, as we established, is any and all change. Were we always like this, or has this age of interactivity made us worse?
To get to one of the roots of the problem, we need to dive into the past a couple of decades or so ago. All those years ago, being a nerd or geek wasn’t just not cool, it was solid ground to be ostracized, bullied, and even straight up beat-up. It was a bigger time investment too. With no internet or mass media infrastructure, geeks had to go to great lengths to find access the stuff you can know find in two seconds on Google. Point is, being geeky, as we understand it today, was on the very fringe of what was culturally accepted, and we latched on to our outsider status as part of the core of the geek identity. Geek status amongst the the group was awarded to who had the coolest stuff and who knew the most about a given topic. To put it plainly, these things solidified that you belonged.
Fast forward to the most recent decade or so, and we had the greatest and worst thing that ever happened in the “war” of geek culture vs. the rest of the world…
The geeks inherited the Earth, and all of a sudden, with all the new tech and exploding interest in the culture, it was so easy and acceptable for anyone to check this stuff out. This turned out to be a major part of the problem. Remember how I said being an outsider was a big part of being a geek? Well, how is that supposed to work when anyone can join in without repercussions from the outside world? We were always a territorial lot, but with the fact that anybody could get into the game we had to put all these newbies, with their new ideas and ways of looking at things, in their place. What better way than to set up an ever shifting set of arbitrary rules that allows the core group to be the “real geeks,” while everybody else is just a casual or a faker. A big part of geek culture has become judging what is worthy and correct, and ridiculing anything and anyone that screws up our little comfort zone. With the anonymity of the internet, our worst nature often comes to the forefront.
Need a prime example?
Oh, yeah. We’re diving right into this sucker. Spoilers for the ever so few of you who don’t know at this point, but it was revealed that Steve Rogers has been a double agent for Hydra all these years. The geek world went so crazy that it caught major news media attention. We heard cries of just how unpatriotic, anti-American, destructive, and evil this all was from all over, including death threats against writer, Nick Spencer. I’m going to repeat that: DEATH THREATS against Nick Spencer! Look, I love super heroes as much as anybody. I see them as our modern myths, and I believe that what happens to them on and off of the page matters to many people around the world, but there is never a need to call for a person’s head over them.
I’m all for calling out crappy work and denouncing meaningless shock-garbage by those who either don’t care or don’t get the characters they are called to create for, but this is a SINGLE issue of a larger uncompleted story written by Spencer, a writer who is far from an uncaring lazy hack. I’m not saying I’m a fan of the twist he has concocted, but the guy deserves the chance to tell his tale. It’s a story that has already been approved by Marvel, and it may turn out to be very interesting and good. It could also be a flaming-bag of dogshit, and possibly the worst thing ever done with the character, but we’re not going to know that from a single set-up issue. Still, even if it ends up being a complete mess, we most certainly don’t need to go and threaten a man’s life.
You don’t have to like the story, you don’t have to buy the book, and you most definitely don’t need to hop onto the internet to spew vile and hateful bile. We can be passionate in our dislike of something without becoming the trollish clowns the media expects us to become. We can be critical and intelligent in our dissent. All it takes is a moment to put our emotions in check, thinking before we act (remember when that was a thing), and then responding in an intelligent manner.
To use myself as an example I want to take a moment to talk about the new Preacher TV show. Preacher means a great deal to me as I found it at a very important and formative time in my life, and it was part of my introduction to mature and thought provoking comics. I straight up did not like the pilot, and I’m not overly enthused about several of the casting choices. So, I took a moment to gather my thoughts and posted the following on Facebook:
“So I just saw the “Preacher” pilot. Feels like they took their own story and just lightly sprinkled bits of the original comic. Doesn’t mean the show will be bad (although the best I can give the episode is a “meh”), but it won’t be the “Preacher” I know and love.”
I said my bit clearly and constructively. I’ve even decided to keep watching the show (the second episode was a major improvement) knowing it will never be what I want or think it should be, but I’m willing to give it a chance and to enjoy the show on its own terms for what it is.
We are never going to evolve this thing we call “geek” until we shake of this victim mentality. There is plenty of things across geekdom to be openly. and even verbally. mad at, but if we are as clever as we like to think we are, then we need to reign in the rage and self police better. We might not be able to control what others do, but we can hold ourselves to a higher standard because all of us (myself included) have fallen for this trap. Let’s evolve already. Isn’t it time?