Why it’s (finally) cool to be a geek

By Guest Author: Wallace Q., software consultant & digital nomad

why it's finally cool to be a geek - neteffectsGrowing up, I was always picked on. I liked math, enjoyed spending time on my Macintosh Classic, loved Star Wars, and was in the camp that thought Atari’s E.T. game wasn’t the absolute worst game for the 2600 console (in my humble opinion it was Fire Fly). Kids being kids in those days (long before there was a zero tolerance policy for bullying) had labeled me a geek, dork, and yes, even nerd. Geek however, seemed to be the one that stuck throughout my childhood and into my adult years.

Fast-forward a few years and some change and not much has changed – except that being a geek is a good thing. The same people who first used that word to inflict pain upon others are now the ones who find themselves eating their words; we geeks are cool.

To tell someone that you work in the technology industry comes with a certain level of prestige; why there are programmers who have become household names, while others enjoy basking in the glow of admiration they’ve come to know amongst the coding crowd (I’m looking at you, John Carmack).

So how did it finally become cool to be a geek? When did the shift happen?

You see, we geeks were always cool in the eyes of other geeks – these are our people. I have a theory that the shift which impacted the rest of the population happened right around the time when people began hearing names like Gates, Jobs, Zukerberg, etc, with more frequency and fancy smartphones complete with their oh-so-convenient and entertaining apps ended up in the pockets and purses by the billions. Next thing you know, startups and hackathons become all the rage and STEM education is being preached as the key for keeping a competitive edge in the world market. So in short, probably within the last seven or eight years. Give or take.

I am thankful this shift has finally happened, and even though there is still some work to do we’ve come a long way from the days when writing code instantly meant that you were some socially inept, slobenly neck-beard who still lives in their Mother’s basement. Granted those fellows are still out there, but I’ve always viewed them as my fellow geek programming brethren, too. You pick on one of us, you’re picking on all of us.

For the first time ever, when a kid likes math, enjoys computers, loves Star Wars, and thinks that Assassin’s Creed: Unity was nothing short of a disappointment, they can be called a geek and beam with pride. Being a geek isn’t something to be ashamed of at all – it’s cool. And it’s about dang time.