How to get along with geeks: A seven-point guide
A few years ago, I worked in a co-working space called Silicon Beach House - it was our play on Silicon Valley - and everyone there was either a developer, a web designer, or running a web start-up. It was a little harem of geeks. And then there was me.
My original MySpace page (yes!) is evidence that I really had no idea what I was doing back then. I still use it in presentations to show people what NOT to do on the web. I am also yet to live down the day I replaced the batteries on my mouse with rechargeable ones and had everyone in the office spend a good 20 minutes giving me tech support, before I sheepishly made the discovery.
It may have happened two years ago, but when I asked my Twitter followers the other day if they had any idea why my second screen wasn’t working, someone still suggested I check the batteries.
Three years on, I think I’ve earned my geek stripes. And just in time, because thanks to our Google forefathers Sergey Brin and Larry Page, it seems EVERYONE wants to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. While JayJays churns out mass-produced nerd-shirts, school mums accesorise with iPhones and Oprah extols the virtue of Twitter; Geekdom remains one of the hardest areas to access. Calling yourself a geek just doesn’t cut it.
Revenge is sweet.
That’s not to say that it can’t be done and everyone need not feel the humiliation I did. So here are my tips for n00bs (or beginners) that will hopefully lessen the road to ridicule that I had to endure and see you earning top geek credentials in no time. May I present you with the (beta-tested) Geek Chic Cheat Sheet.
#1 You can ask stupid questions
Despite the slightly over-stereo-typed image of geeks as idiot-savantes, most do not hold a deeper general knowledge than your average citizen. They appear to know a lot courtesy of Google. Most questions can be answered by a simple Google search - and if it is, be prepared to at least be offered this sort of help. Twitter is a great place to get answers quickly, but don’t stretch the patience of your followers and be sure to disclaim it with #lazyweb. And as XKCD pointed out to the delight of most geeks the other day, there is usually no magic trick to fixing computer problems. Print this and stick it in your cubicle before you ask dumb questions (and lose geek cred):
#2 You’re in the Windows or Mac camp
There’s no room for indifference when it comes to being a Mac fan or a Windows defendant. To be less biased about it, you need to be in one camp or the other. And this isn’t a battle waged only by die-hard Mac fanbois and girls - both Apple and Microsoft have run million-dollar campaigns based around the meme. (See the YouTube clip above.) It is still possible to be a Windows fan and own an iPhone, just make sure you bitch about its poor battery life. And often.
#3 You are the least dressed-up person at any function or event
It doesn’t matter how low-key the event is you always want to look like you put in the least effort. This doesn’t mean thongs and shorts, that’s just bogan. Geek attire has a certain savyness about it that should not be overlooked. I attended a corporate event a few years back where all the “geeks” were emailed reminding them that there were dress standards for these events. Those that listened to the memo, and there were a few that didn’t, made sure they wore their sneakers with their suits. If you are unsure what to wear, safe bets are wearing a black T-shirt (American Apparel is a good choice), black jeans and sneakers - this applies to both sexes and black tie functions too. WARNING: Be sure not to look like a hipster. We don’t like them or their shallow fashion imitations.
#4 You get South Park and Star Wars quotes
Make reference to popular cult movies and TV shows. South Park, Simpsons, Family Guy and Futurama are full of geek quotable material. And, not wanting to overwhelm you with too much homework, Star Wars, Star Trek and Fight Club are essential geek viewing. You also win geek cred for spotting references that others make. Be the first, and you win a special place in that geek’s heart.
#5 You don’t call yourself a Social Media Expert (SME)
So you’ve just discovered Twitter and it’s blown your mind. You feel its power and you want to tell the world. You may know a few buzzwords like “social graph” “hyper-connectivity” and you even know how to use a Wiki, but calling yourself a social media expert is the quickest way to lose geek credibility. Don’t put it on your Twitter profile and definitely don’t use one of those glossy corporate shots to make you look all professional-like. We’ll spot you from a mile away. In Geekdom there are no social media experts, only social media douchebags. You have been warned.
#6 You don’t “open” your new iPhone - you “unbox” it
You’ve just got home with a new iPhone/computer/any-gadget-of-the-moment, you don’t simply open it, you “unbox” it. This requires you to photograph or video the meticulous opening of the box from lid removal to placing the gadget in your hand. If you are videoing it, make sure to provide excitable commentary; for photographs, detailed captions are necessary. Do not feel you need to hide the passion you have for said gadget. Next step is to upload it to all your social networks - or else it never happened.
#7 You understand LOLcats
Essentially, LOLcats are pictures of cats with funny captions, often in LOLspeak. There’s simply no way to truly describe them, but if you visit Icanhazcheeseburger.com often enough you’ll get the idea.
If you find this funny, you’re on to a good start.
If you understand this, welcome to Geekdom.
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