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Published on September 29th, 2011 | by Jack


The Importance of Being Nice in Geek Culture

I don’t necessarily identify myself as a geek, but there are many moments in life when I realize that I
am. For instance, I will quote movies such as This is Spinal Tap or Clerks while I am at work, and the
references just fly over the top of the heads of co-workers. Whether or not I am a true geek, I note
that I do hold many interests close to me – almost obsessively – and this is probably true for many
readers. The interests I, and other geeks, hold dearly are important to use because we can identify with
the creators of our interests, so if we like something, we really like something. This is also true in the
opposite form. If we hate something, we truly hate something. However, it is important to recognize
that when we dislike a movie, a band, a book, a videogame, etc. that we don’t hate the people who do
like that movie, band, book, videogame, etc. And lately I have found several geeks hating the people
who hold a personal interest close, and this needs to stop.

I was having a bad day several weeks ago. Work sucked and several of my friends cancelled the potential
plans that I had, so I decided to play some L.A. Noire. I’m not a hardcore gamer by any means. I just
find a videogame that I enjoy every once in a while. L.A. Noire was providing some relief for a bad day,
so I posted the fact that I was enjoying the game on Facebook. And my friend attacked both the game
and me for playing it. He mentioned that he knew more about the development of the game than I did
and he would never play such a dumb sandbox game that parades around as a free-environment game
based on something as horrible as CSI, yet masking itself in the 1940’s. I responded that he shouldn’t
judge a game before playing it, and I enjoy several film-noir movies, so it seemed pretty cool. This kind
of ruined my already bad day. I want to blame my friend for the attack, but I realize that he attacks
the videogame because he has such an attachment to videogames in general. He is passionate about
videogames, which is why he researched the development of L.A. Noire and many more releases.

The interesting about geeks and nerds is that our pursuits tend to be more intellectual than others. We
want to research the history of a music genre instead of stopping the radio dial at the station that plays
the current billboard hits. We track the filming of movies at the moment we hear a writer or director is
attached to the film. Therefore, we have the ability to hold intellectual conversations about our passions
whether negative or positive, thus when we hate something, we should give constructive criticism
rather than simply going in for an attack.

I have several friends who grew up watching the Transformers cartoons as kids, so when the movies
came out, those friends were genuinely excited. Because of their passion about the cartoons, they let
the fact that Michael Bay directed/raped the franchise. As a person who holds an interest in films, I can
recognize that the Transformers franchise is pretty atrocious. I mean, I want to see giant robots fighting
for two hours with giant explosions surrounding the fighting. Unfortunately, the films did not deliver
what is a fairly simple premise. Instead, we received two hours of boring, convoluted plot with minimal
robot kickassery. However, my friends had a chance to see the minimal fighting and were fine with
what they saw. I shouldn’t judge my friends for liking Transformers, but I can give some general criticism

Without insulting my friends. After all, I am sure I like some embarrassing things.

A good example of niceness is geek culture is when another friend posted a status about Doctor Who.
My friend just started watching the series and was sad to see Christopher Eccleston leave the role.
Several of her friends mentioned that Ecclesston wasn’t a great Doctor and Tennant was the best.
Another posted that her friends were wrong and that Smith was the better Doctor. I saw the feud
developing, so I decided to fan the flames by mentioning that every actor who plays the Doctor can
bring something interesting and unique the role. Eccleston was the Doctor who (no pun intended) got
me into the series, Tennant definitely plays a great character very well and has a longer run than many
who share is role, so it is easy to become attached, and Smith has a different head writer helping his
character, and Smith is more youthful because of his age. All of these aspects are important to Doctor
Who. Thankfully, many of her friends agreed with me and a status war (because Facebook is the high
school of the internet) didn’t break out.

I’m not saying that I’m the prime example of how geek s should be nice, but I realize that it is important
to lead by example if that is what I want to see in the future. I don’t think I would have gotten the idea
if I hadn’t starting listening to the Nerdist podcast, which I assume many readers here are familiar with.
Chris Hardwick, the host of the Nerdist mentioned in one episode that the show gets a lot of criticism
because they are nice to the guests, but he says they are nice to the guests because the show hosts
guests that Hardwick, Ray, and Mira enjoy as people and as professionals, so it makes sense to be nice
because the conversation will be genuine and honest. This doesn’t mean that the podcast is always
upbeat and positive – the hosts do criticism many things such as movies, music, etc., yet they do so
without attacking the creators and fans. There are likely many other examples of large scale niceness in
geek culture, but this a good starting point.

I love the geek community I am in, and I want to see it grow. The reason I like this community is because
I can talk to people who acknowledge that there are rock bands other than Led Zeppelin, there are
movies outside of popular romantic comedies, television exists outside of American Idol, there are
authors other than Dan Brown, and there are videogames outside of Call of Duty. These are the people
I want to associate with. I don’t want to be attacked by these people, but I do want helpful constructive
criticism, and I enjoy mutual interests. I believe we can do this, so go out and be nice to someone no
matter how difficult it might be.

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