I am a geek!

By JJ Rosen February 6, 2022
I Am A Geek

“Are you a geek?”

I suppose I could have been offended by the question.

Back in high school days, that was the last thing I ever wanted to hear.   But when a friend recently posed that question to me, I noticed my feelings of teenage shame were no longer there.  I answered with pride:   “I am a geek!”

Granted, it took me a while to embrace my inner-geekdom.

Although my love for computers goes back as far as middle school, I tried to keep my techie interests quiet out of fear of being teased or shunned.  No point in risking any unnecessary teen-life drama.

Upon entering college, still living in fear of the geek label, I would sneak to the computer lab in between fraternity parties and football games. I wanted to take computer science classes, but it never worked out.

Slowly over time I began to realize that living a double-life was not healthy. At some point I had to take off the mask.  When I was offered a job as a software developer after I graduated, I could no longer deny it— I was a full-fledged computer geek!

What is a geek?

Merriam-Webster’s defines a geek as “a person who is very interested in and knows a lot about a particular field or activity.”

Geeks come in many forms.  Band geeks, art geeks, car geeks, Dungeons and Dragons geeks (who probably invented the term) are just some of the familiar varieties.   Sometimes seen as outcasts, we all tend to bond around our specific geek passions and become friends.  Whether sitting around the lunch table or attending a Meetup.com group, we can spend hours discussing the topics we are interested in.

Our geek afflictions are both fun and educational.  Thinking back, why was this ever considered a bad thing?

What separates a geek from a casual hobbyist? The key difference is: passion.  A music hobbyist doesn’t care what type of snare drum Ringo played on the third track of “A Hard Day’s Night,” and a casual computer hobbyist won’t know how to fix a wireless network issue using a DOS prompt on Windows 10.  But us geeks?   We want to know it all.

By the time I became an adult, I was relieved to discover the geek label had evolved into a good thing.   In a large part due to the tech revolution, the term “geek” (at least at work) is no longer pejorative. It’s about finding your passion and living and breathing it for hours and hours to get better, pushing past failures.  It’s a trait that gives us an advantage in the workplace.

Despite all this, I must admit, my geekiness sometimes still interferes with my social life.  Here and there my wife will kick me under the table at a dinner party if I have spent too much time talking about some Java programming or a server issue I was working on the other day.

Oh well.  If a few social miscues are the trade-offs to letting my geek flag fly, I can live with that.

Touting the advantages of being a geek is easy to do in hindsight, but my kids tell me that having the courage to accept and even embrace your inner-geekdom is still hard.

So, for all the geeky kids out there who may be struggling:  Stay passionate and know that being a geek is a good thing that will eventually pay off. Geek out!


JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, a Nashville IT consulting, programming, networking, web design, and web development firm. 

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