We live in the right decade for those who know Tolkin’s Elvish, can build a computer, and love Star Trek a little too much. In a different time these people would have been teased mercilessly, but now we actually fetishize the geek. Just look at the rise of TV shows like Silicon Valley, The IT Crowd, or The Big Bang Theory. Now I grew up and live in the SF Bay Area, which I realize is the heart of nerdom, so maybe I have a skewed perspective. But I think it’s pretty cool that I was able to let my freak flag fly in high school by wearing fairy wings to my classes and never heard a mean comment.
Honestly, I think there’s a lot of geeky stuff that’s actually pretty darn awesome. Here’s some of the “uncool” things I think have an unfairly bad rap:
1. Fantasy Novels
I love photography and cooking and dogs. But when I’m lying on my death bed at 80 years old, I’ll look back at my life and see clearly that fantasy novels will always be my #1 true love. Since the age of 8 when I fell in love with Mathilda, the Witches, and Roald Dahl’s other incredible novels, I have been a fantasy book addict. I consume this genre like it’s candy, from the well-established geek novels of Harry Potter and Outlander to the more obscure cyberpunk and urban supernatural. These books are what keep me sane in an otherwise tumultuous world and are truly my happy place.
2. Settlers of Catan
Some people like to go to the bars on a Friday night – as often as not, we seem to end up huddled around our living room table playing Catan. Naturally there’s the required beer and whiskey, which only ends up fueling the backstabbing, bribery, and cussing that seems to make up the foundation of our game nights. Built on a fundamentally simple concept where players collect resources to build roads, settlements, and cities, Settlers of Catan still leaves itself open for endless variations thus complex strategies. This game never gets old.
I have such a complex relationship with this social platform. On the one hand, it’s an amazing way to find interesting content, hear unique stories, oogle at cute pictures of animals, and be blown away by the most clever commenters on the web. On the other hand, people can be mean. Like, really mean. Suffice it to say, I stopped commenting at all after a while – I don’t have a thick enough skin for that world. However, being a Reddit lurker = endless hours of entertainment. Just remind yourself that 50% of the people are 18 year old boys who know nothing about the real world.
At 12 years old, all my friends were Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and of course they were already well acquainted with the awesomeness that is Japanese animation. They started loaning me their manga, and soon after I began renting every anime I could find from my local library. This was before there was hardly anything in dubbed in English, so I watched a whole lot of subtitled Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tenchi, Bubblegum Crisis, Slayers, and Ranma 1/2. Now, we’ve come to fully appreciate anime as an art form, and even those who haven’t even seen Cowboy Beebop (criminal!) enjoy Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away.
5. History and Science
Yes, I am talking about the school subjects. We all knew the kids in grade school that were just a little too into their telescope or learning how to fence. Although those traits seem uncool at 15, by the time you’re in college, your excessive knowledge actually begins to become a badge of honor. One of my degrees was in Classical Studies, which basically means ancient history. It was a small department with only about 15 kids in my graduating class, and they knew an absurd amount of Ancient Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Socratic philosophy, etc. And you know what – they seemed so COOL! As far as science goes, I have three words for you – Neil deGrasse Tyson. Look at what a stud this guy was back in the day.
6. Comic Books
Sure, at times this goes hand-in-hand with the anime category above, but not always. After all, what true geek doesn’t speak in hushed tones of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman? In middle school I would sit in the comic book section at Borders for six hour stretches and read volume after volume, since I couldn’t afford to actually purchase anything. These visual books pretty much have it all – pretty pictures, compelling characters, emotionally addictive story lines, and a penchant for weirdness found in few other art forms.
7. Magic the Gathering
This one is more a nod to my boyfriend and his complete obsession with this game than my own experiences. I felt like it was worth mentioning though because despite the fact that we tend to write it off as that weird card collecting thing people did in the late ’90s, Magic is actually a mind-blowingly complex and strategic game. Reg will spend hours online “creating decks” and fiddling around with the perfect combo of cards, then go up against his friends in single games or mini tournaments to see who created the best ones. Plus, come on, the artwork is really pretty!
What’s an “uncool” thing that you think is actually pretty awesome?