What is a geek? A geek is defined as “a person who has excessive enthusiasm for and some expertise about a specialized subject or activity.” There is no better way to define the term. The “subject or activity” for which a geek has their enthusiasm can literally be anything. One of the most refreshing parts of being a geek is the freedom it allows someone to be passionate of their interests, whatever those may be, without fear of repercussion. Or so it would be ideally…
Truthfully, there is often intense backlash within the geek community against one another. It ranges from a competiveness of who is “more of a geek” than the other, the unwillingness to accept other’s interests, or the refusal to allow newcomers into the geek “community”. Often geeks are harsh with one another.
I used to own a comic book store in Columbus, Indiana. Often times we would have new comic book readers come into the store with ages ranging from very young to very old. It was always exciting to me to have these excited newcomers to a hobby I love. It was proof to me that comic books can still draw new readers and continue to grow and be relevant. I would attempt to go out of my way to help these new readers find a book they enjoy.
Not all comic retailers share my enthusiasm. I often visit other stores when I travel. One time I was in a store browsing back issues, when a mother came into the store with her young son. The mother approached the counter and told the store employee that her son was interested in reading comics after watching the Green Lantern cartoon on television. The young boy was practically bouncing off the wall with excitement, barely able to contain his joy for this new and wonderful world he has entered. The employee seemed annoyed by this “intrusion” and simply pointed towards the back of the store and grumbled “the kids stuff is back there.” I was disgusted by his unwillingness to help nurture a new reader to the comic book world. This young boy could be a future creator. At the very least, he’s a new fan who deserves respect and support.
There was also the time I was visiting another store in a busy part of a larger city. These two mid-20’s foreign tourists entered the store, and made their way back to a back issue table, where they proceeded to reenact the “got it, got it, need it” scene from an episode of the television show the Big Bang Theory. They cackled with joy at their joke and proceeded to look around the store for a bit in awe. The store owner behind the counter rolled his eyes at the two, and never one approached them to help. When they left the store the owner joked with his buddy at the counter how “those two came in here and wasted my time without buying anything.” Again, it bothered me that this “fan” was mocking others, when it was his job as a businessman to approach his customer.
It makes no difference if it’s a young reader brought to a comic shop by a cartoon, or two new readers inspired by a television show… they CAME to the store. They were there, obviously interested in the wonderful world of comic books. Their first impressions could not have been memorable as both were treated (or ignored!) with disdain.
Why does it matter what brought them to the geek world? Why does it matter what it is they are geeks for? Why does it matter if they are new to the world or lifelong fans? All that should matter is they are THERE. It should be our duty as experienced geeks to help guide these newcomers. We should be excited to help them, teach them, point them in a direction.
Why do we care what their gender, color, or age is? I want the things I love to grow and be successful. I want the whole world to be able to share and experience the things I am passionate about.
The number one motto of the geeks everywhere, no matter what it is they are fans of, should be ACCEPTANCE. With that, the geek world would truly become a “community”.