If you haven’t been paying attention the last decade, there has been a changing of the guard. Art, the internet, and entertainment are being sculpted by a new and powerful group of people. It’s not your fault if you didn’t notice. This new status quo has long prided itself on a shared experience of social marginalization. Yes, I’m talking about geeks. If you didn’t get the memo, we’re cool now.

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The paradox here is that as geek things become more popular, geeks themselves become more insular. We’re creating factions within our own caste. There’s a few reasons for this but one of the big ones is that we’ve long learned to embrace our outcast status. As new people are indoctrinated into liking the things we’ve always known are awesome, we have to assert that we’re more awesome. And were awesome first. This has become especially true of women joining our group and the former status quo – jocks.

Some of this is expected. I mean it’s not just geeks and gamers that have problems with women. Most of the world is gender biased from the bottom up. It’s society. Not us. And persecuting those that persecuted you, well that’s just justice, right?

Wrong.

We have an opportunity to change things. We can be a better “in crowd” and actually improve society. Our reign, however short it may be, can be one defined by acceptance and inclusion. We have felt firsthand the sting of ridicule. And it fucking hurts. It’s time to prove we’re better than previous generations.

I have a real simple guide to help us with our benevolent rule.

Step One: Awesome for Everyone 

Tell yourself everyone can love the things you love. I don’t care what their gender is, who they are, or where they came from. You know the thing you like is awesome. Why would you hate someone else with taste as good as yours? I can’t state it any simpler. Quit being a dick to women. And don’t be a racist.

Step Two: All for One

Stop hating other factions of geek. This one is more complicated because you need to learn how to identify other factions.

This is where the connection to my previous post comes in. I have railed against Call of Duty for a long time – mostly because it deserves it and this is a review site. But it is not fair to hate on people, I’ve dubbed them Dudies, because they like the game. Think back to that 6-year-old meme of the of the Cowa Dooty guy. If he’s holding a Rainbow Dash in one hand and My Little Pony Monopoly in the other, how does your opinion change?

Bronies and Dudies are both fanatics. I’m personally not interested in either of their obsessions. I happen to have an opinion on COD because my obsession after writing is video gaming. But I love to use the brony example to keep myself grounded. I am fascinated by them. There is a love and obsession of a thing. Memorabilia and collectibles are purchased excessively. T-Shirts are worn. I do all those same things and feel the same way about Metal Gear and Alan Wake and The Last of Us. Recognizing that the love I feel for my interest is the same love others feel for their interest stops me from hating them. It’s okay to admit that some interests aren’t for you. It’s not okay to insult other people for their’s. I encourage everyone to find their own analogue – like my curiosity with bronies – and use it to curb hatreds of other factions.

Step Three: Armor Up

Part of embracing our new role as the status quo involves growing a thicker skin.

Author Ernest Cline, of Ready Player One notoriety, co-wrote a screenplay for a film called Fanboys. It was a cult hit back in 2009.  The movie is a heartwarming little comedic piece, par for the course for Cline, about a group of Star Wars Nerds on their quest to steal Episode One from George Lucas’s mansion. There are some fun cameos and an ensemble cast of (then) low-key but talented actors.  One of the best comedic moments features a run in with a bunch of Trekkies. Well rather than describe it, here:

“It’s funny because it’s true” applies to the scene. We’ve all gotten into an argument over whose obsession is better. DC vs. Marvel. Trek vs. Wars. PC vs. Console. The list goes on.  It’s as though geeks are possessed by some ultimate insecurity to prove that the thing they obsess over is fully worth their time and the best possible obsession they are capable of. If someone insults that thing, a knee-jerk defensive response is triggered.

It takes practice to thicken your hide. Self awareness and learning to “laugh it off” are great tools. Eventually you might even recognize that geek interests aren’t mutually exclusive. You can like Deadpool and Batman. If someone makes fun of either thing remember that it’s not a personal attack against you.

If the attacks do turn personal, don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself (or others). Feel free to defer to what your upbringing taught you was the best solution to heated altercations. My mom taught me to never start fights but end them if necessary. I’m also a big brother and father. It’s in my nature to step in. There’s no shame in walking away (that might mean leaving an internet discussion) from someone petty enough to resort to using your interests as weapons of insult.

Step Four: …By Any Other Name

Stop making fun of the old status quo.

One discovery I’ve made as an adult is that “jocks” are just sports geeks. Want proof? Just look at Fantasy Football. Or “Socially Acceptable Dungeons and Dragons for Grown Ass Men” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

I understand part of our resentment stems from the fact that sports geeks were the only faction viewed as socially acceptable. Avengers: Age of Ultron made 188 million dollars opening weekend in North America. Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry that trumps movies in terms of profit. The architects of the internet are people like you and me and our more marginalized nerd predecessors. It’s safe to say that sports aren’t the only acceptable vice anymore. Let’s just call the old guard by their new name, welcome them to the party, and move on together.

No one knows how long geeks will enjoy their reign at the top – for about as long as comic book movies are profitable I suspect. But I say we use our power for good while it lasts. Let’s not make the same mistakes of previous generations. There is opportunity to actually do some good here. Let everyone sit at the DND table of life. Take turns passing the controller of empowerment. And chant with me, “E Pluribus Modem” – one from many geeks.