I have a group of 4 geek girls that have been my best friends for years. We’ve always embraced our weirdness together, never feeling the urge to hold back when it came to just how geeky we could get as a group. We’ve embraced geek-centric groups together, such as becoming Nerdfighters or becoming Iggles (members of the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club). All of our tastes vary, and it makes us a varied group, and I would never trade them for anything.
However, recently I experienced something with one of my friends that caused me to think about those geeks out there that don’t have the same support system that I have, and it’s caused me to look at a few things differently.
As the excitement around the release of The Fault in Our Stars loomed, I couldn’t wait to firm up plans to go and see the film with my 3 best friends (one is currently living in London ON). My TFiOS survival kit had just come in the mail, so I had my pack of “Okay? Okay” tissues, a rockin’ pair of shades, and even some candy cigarettes; I was prepared.
That is, until one of my friends surprised me in saying that she wanted to see it with just two of our friends first, and then as a full group later, because the three of them would get more out of the experience than the two of us leftover.
This confused me; I read the book last year, and like so many others, I loved it. So I asked her if it wasjust because I never cry at sad movies (I’m talking never – I am made of stone.)
And her response was that she and two of our friends would enjoy it more because I’m not as much of a Nerdfighter as they were.
Here the confusion continued to pile on. Was I missing something? Were there certain leveled memberships of Nerdfighter-dom that I hadn’t heard about? For whatever reason, even though this is a reasonably small thing, hearing my friend say this hurt me a bit.
I told her that what she’d said had been a bit insulting, and while she believed she was elaborating as she explained herself, to me she only continued to pile on. The thesis of her argument was that she, Jessica* and Grace* had been Nerdfighters for a lot longer, that they had been there “from the beginning” with regards to TFiOS. The way she made it sound made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of attendance to an advance screening with my closest friends and had to wait for general admission, when the reviews were already out and the excitement had almost completely died down.
I’m know she didn’t mean to sound that way; I’ve known her since kindergarten, and her heart is always in the right place. However, it got me thinking: Was she right? Could I be considered less of a geek because I was out of the loop during the early years that my friends were flashing Nerdfighter gang signs to each other?
Eventually I figured out the answer was no. But I’m glad for this experience, because it brought this issue to my attention.
Has this feeling of superiority, this sense of elitism, always existed in the geek world? I may have already known that these sorts of feelings exist when it comes to the online world, if Mia’s article about “How To Be A ‘Real’ Geek” is any indicator, but I hardly expected to experience this in real life. It goes to show you that this sort of exclusion exists everywhere, not just online and not just among fandoms.
I feel like we as geeks need a strong sense of inclusion within our groups, perhaps even more so than the
average Joe. We need to be in a safe place where our voices can be heard and where we won’t be judged in any way whatsoever. Whether we like to say “Allons-y!” or “Alohomora!” shouldn’t make any difference.
Nerdfighteria got it right. Just like it says in this video, Nerdfighters are just people made up of awesome instead of typical organic matter. If you want to be a Nerdfighter, you are a Nerdfighter! Nowhere can you find any rules about getting there first.
I believe that we should pledge to ourselves, and to the fellow geeks around us, that we are all equals! No matter what fandoms you like, no matter what kind of person you are. Even if we arrived late to the buffet like I did with Nerdfighteria, they should be welcomed with open arms and considered equals.
I’ve always found that the geek girl community I have at my fingertips with Twitter always has a way of understanding with regards to these situations, so I sent out a couple tweets explaining my dilemma. I got quite the response back, which I appreciated immensely.
My friend shouldn’t be blamed or villainized; I should actually thank her for making me more aware of the
problems of exclusion, alienation and elitism among geeks and the rest of the world, and she also made me aware of exactly how it feels.Don’t wait to find out how all of these things feel yourself before you make the change to equality. If somebody on Twitter doesn’t know what DFTBA stands for, help them out while reminding them that they Don’t Forget To Be Awesome! If somebody who is new to the world of the Doctor spells it “Dr. Who”, don’t be cross with them, because at least they’re trying. If you see somebody post online that the first shot was not made by Han Solo, then . . . okay, then you’re allowed to tear them apart 😉