A Pledge for…

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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.

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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 😉

About the author

Kacie is a Canadian geek girl who splits her time between being an English & Writing major, working at am bookstore, vlogging, reading, playing video games, online role playing and keep up her own blog. She hopes to one day be an editor at a publishing house and eventually a novelist. Kacie also hopes that her claim to fame will be more than owning 300+ volumes of manga.  

— Find Kacie? Twitter ★ Facebook ★ Blog

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  • Amber Henry

    I absolutely love this post. I am a geek girl without a support group. Sure, I have friends….but none that share my interests when it comes to geekery. The thought of having 3 friends to nerd out with just sounds awesome. I'm a big fan on the geek girl community that I've found online.

  • http://knowitnotsomuch.blogspot.com knowitnot

    When went to my first SD Comic Con I was amazed at the level of inclusion with the people on the floor. Everyone was so nice and polite and there was this huge sense of community. I attributed it to the fact that all of these people had been excluded for being nerds or geeks their whole lives and this was the one place where they could be themselves without fear of being teased or told they were not cool, etc. It's changed in the past few years and while there is a general sense of community there is the whole 'I'm a bigger fan than you' sort of attitude all over the place. I don't think this is something new, I think people are always looking for a way to feel better than someone else, but it sure took some of the fun out of cons. I'm sorry this happened to you :(

  • Shawna Miller

    I have geek girl friends but we are all kinda into different stuff, but I feel like they would want me to go to whatever for the experience. I am one of those people who spelled Doctor Who, Dr. Who and got a licking on twitter for it….Great post and definitely something to think about!

  • http://cuddlyasacactus.wordpress.com/ Elyse Anderson

    I feel like I'm going to open a can of worms on this one, but I'll come out and say that I don't care for John Green's novels. And so, for me, I'm on the outside looking in. And a lot of what I see is often exclusionary and completely combative towards anyone who doesn't like John Green's works. This has totally turned me off of the whole nerdfighter movement :( I know for a fact that not all (or even most) nerdfighters are like that (because admittedly, I see most of the negative on tumblr which is often a combative environment to begin with), but goodness gracious. It does scare one a bit.

    To be more on-topic, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that many of the "gatekeepers" were excluded in their younger years. So now that they've found this community to be a part of, they want it to be special. Only for them and only for people just like them. Of course, that's a huge problem because it's just doing to others what has been done to them– which is never good!

  • Morgan

    For as long as I have been in 'fandoms' there has always been a certain level of exclusion and elitism. New members to a fandom are usually always looked down upon. People tend to forget that at one point they were the new members, and the 'senior members' looked down upon them. I've learned to take it all with a grain of salt. In any situation there will always be conflict, and this particular conflict isn't worth it. It doesn't matter who's been a fan of what longer, and eventually you'll have been around long enough to be considered one of the group.

    I'm not going to get too much into your particular situation, because reasons, but I will commend you on your ability to look at it the way you have. I mean, I was kind of offended for you, but I'm glad you're able to look at it the way you have. I've seen relationships weakened for less, and the fact that you're able to turn this situation into a learning experience is impressive.

  • Mia Moore

    I totally appreciate your insight – I'm totally outside the Nerdfighter arena, so I don't really get it.

    I agree that some people move from being bullied to being the bully. I've seen it happen and it's something I don't understand – why would I be exclusive when it hurt me when I was younger? But I sort of get wanting to keep it safe from anyone who could taint the safe space. It's a really fine line, though.

  • http://www.karaw.com/blogg/ Kara

    A very important message
    for all of us to remember. For those of
    us who grew up without a support group we often learned to become protective of
    our fandoms. Some would mock us for
    them, and some would try to understand them and fail horribly, which could
    sometimes be even worse. Also, when
    there are only “true” nerds in a group we all feel safe and part of the
    community, but when something becomes mainstream and “outsiders” come in, we
    start to feel protective again, and suspicious of anyone new. We remember our school days, and the fare of
    being mocked creeps back inn. We get our
    spikes out and won’t let anyone get too close.
    But as you say, it is important to remember that many of these newbies
    are truly interested in the fandom and want to learn more and are genuinely really
    nice people! Without recruitment any
    group will die.

    I had a similar experience
    once, when my best friend wanted to join my nerd-ism. I of course thought this was great, but felt
    that she should respect that these were my friends and my hobby. She could come with me to events, as long as
    she wasn’t as “good” as me. The first
    time she went to an event without me I was racked with jealousy and felt she
    was stealing my friends. I luckily realized
    that I was being stupid, and we had a good long talk about it and everything worked
    out fine, but sometimes your feelings make you say and do stupid things. The important thing then is to be able to be
    honest, both with yourself and with those around you.