As the world around us is slowly becoming more geek friendly, I can’t help but wonder how and why this has come about. With entire tv-shows revolving around geeks to high fashion runway models wearing horn-rimmed glasses, being a geek has become more and more acceptable and, even stranger, fashionable. But how and when did this exactly happen? And, more importantly, is this just a phase society is going through, with over a couple of years geekiness being “out” again? Or are geeks here to stay?

It never fails to amaze me how many people call themselves geeks nowadays; from the hard-core computer programmer to the beauty pageant contestant (who owns a mobile and a iPod, and thus of course in her eyes is a geek) to kids addicted to Harry Potter/LOTR/Star Wars, the present-day labeling of “geek” is something to be embraced, not run away from.

While many people may have accepted this new positive embodiment of the geek, there are some that fail to notice the transformation of the definition of geekiness, still clinging on to the outdated demeaning meaning. In fact, if we take a look at a couple of dictionaries, we see the following definitions:

    1. A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.
    2. A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
  1. A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.


  1. an unfashionable or socially inept person.
    • [with adj. ] a person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest: a computer geek.
  2. a carnival performer who does wild or disgusting acts.
For starters, let’s write off the carnival performer definition; if the world was embracing that type of geek, it would be a very sad, sad world to live in. Looking at the rest of the definitions, you can’t fail to notice the negativity imbued in them: foolish, clumsy, socially inept, unfashionable, eccentric. While this might have been true in the past, current geeks aren’t typically defined by these qualities. Many geeks may have one or more of those qualities, but nowadays it isn’t that what labels them a geek.

Another preconception that people have concerning geeks is the “single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits” aspect. While you do have geeks in these areas, I believe it is not limited to only these areas. Besides the computer geeks and math geeks, there are also movie and book geeks to even something as inane as roof tiling or daisy-chain making geeks.

The definition that comes the closest to what in my eyes the present-day geek is:

a person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest

The problem I have with this definition though lies in the word “eccentric”, which somehow conjures up the idea that it is strange and not completely normal. Further this definition disregards the amount of knowledge a geek holds over the subject. The real definition of a geek should be:

a person with a passionate devotion to and an extensive knowledge of a particular interest

This fully captures the concept that geeks have a deep, extensive passion of a subject without them being completely socially awkward.

What I see occurring though, is that since geekiness is now “in”, there are a lot of people that call themselves geeks, because it is fashionable to do so, but still believing in the old interpretation of the word. At the same time, there are many people that actually are geeks, yet also still hold on to the outdated meaning, and thus, don’t label themselves as geeks. With the advent of the internet, it has become much more easier to immerse yourself into one particular topic and to connect to other like-minded individuals. It is in part, because of this connection that these people don’t see themselves as geeks, since they are socially active.

So what is the future of geekiness? Will it somewhere in the future be “out” again and will the term be once more demeaning? Or will the more modern definition of geek be embraced and will a whole new wave of geeks emerge in the process?

Tags: Geeky