Why you should never listen to geeks, and in fact should despise them… I have worked in IT for about twelve years in various roles from support to development.  This fact should explain why I am pissed off all the time at everyone and hate life:  the people who work in IT drive me up the fucking wall.  Someone around me does something aggravating nearly every day, whether expressing an idiotic opinion, exaggerating personal anecdotes, repeating stupid, obvious jokes and phrases over and over and over again, or just parading their anti-personalities around as if there is anything attractive or interesting about them.  The cause of this hate is geeks, not innate misanthropy; when I meet anyone outside the IT discipline I find myself automatically relaxing, safe in the knowledge that even the most committed jackass cannot annoy me the way I have been relentlessly annoyed for most of my adult life.


If I had to enumerate all the things that make geeks intolerable -- demoralizing to think about -- the first and most intolerable would be their extremely high (and misplaced) self-esteem.  That is to say, geeks tend to be very impressed with themselves and with their accomplishments (which are usually rather ordinary) and as a group have developed a fantastical notion of the qualities they project to others.  To illustrate, read this passage from the beginning of the Jargon Dictionary, which is essentially an encomium to geek values:


Because hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define themselves partly by rejection of ‘normal' values and working habits, it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional culture less than 50 years old.


No, it doesn't.  Incompetent grooming and wearing the same clothes for 15 years straight do not constitute traditions.  Neither does snickering at a shared mantra of pop culture references and expressions.  Neither does espousing various clueless political philosophies all of which depend heavily on the espouser never going outside, much less interacting with people different from himself.  Neither does answering questions in the least helpful manner possible or assuming the stubbornness of an eight-year-old whenever their preferred method of doing something is rejected.  Neither does constantly watching Star Trek and Japanese cartoons and internalizing the warped value systems of both.


A geek

Whereas the introduction from which I quoted asserts that geeks are inventive in their use of language -- a very strange assertion -- my experience has been that the best you can expect from one of their ilk is slavish adherence to partially absorbed rules.  In the worst cases they exhibit outright antipathy for expressive language.  Creativity is out of the question, and what you most often get is a retarded patois of computer references which bespeak not cleverness but a very confined lifestyle.  For the geek, language is a finite array of words and phrases lifted from lowbrow entertainment and repeated, parrot-like, with the same primitive design as that of avian chirps and squawks.  Many of the geek's attempts at communication seem merely to serve the purpose of announcing his physical proximity, or are otherwise unanswerable.


So to put it mildly the egoism of the above quote is unbecoming -- first, the central claim is untrue, and second, even if it were true it is crass to indulge in self-praise based on an idealized group affiliation and an ignorance of all other affiliations.


However, creativity with language is actually the least of the geek's farcical self-delusions.  Tolerance, non-conformity, fairness, even (amazingly) worldliness are very much senses that the geek has about himself but which no one outside his circle would detect.  The list goes on and on.  During his evolution from insecure twerp to advanced energumen the geek acquires a self-regard that is truly incredible.  He will naturally assume that whatever skills he has are indications of genius or heroic mental endurance (or both), but that skills exhibited by members of other professions are easily learned rote tasks which one might entrust to a child or mutant ape, or else that have no value whatsoever.


In this spirit geeks sometimes make a show of embracing an unusual pastime unrelated to computers, such as watching cartoons, but most of them are faking it and seldom acquire more than a sciolist's understanding (enough, that is, to make groundless but superficially arguable claims on the various message boards that are their preferred mode of communication).  If you observe him closely, you will find that a geek approaches non-computer avocations in a fanatical way and always with the certainty (in keeping with an outsized opinion of himself) that he can master any subject with a dilettante's effort.  In fact that seems to be the whole point of the rare excursion into non-computerized activity.  Once his shallow sense of mastery is satisfied he ceases to progress in the avocation because really hard work bores him.


This is the geek as you might find him on Slashdot and in other forums arguing about Firefox or Linux or whatever his latest petty obsession is, and as I find him walking past my office day-in and day-out acting like a child.  I tell you these people make feminists seem charming. Monday, March 28, 2005 - 12:27 PM  


For a previous look at the personality deficiencies of geeks, go here.

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