If You Want a Vision Of The Future, Imagine a Steampunk Boot Photoshopping a Fez on Batman — Forever

Let’s get one thing out of the way, first thing: I am a nerd.

I’ve never said I wasn’t. How could I? One time at work a guy I played ‘Magic’ with asked me if I was into Doctor Who. “Ron,” I said, “what about me would suggest that I wasn’t?” So let’s not assume that I’m trying to deny any nerdishness on my part.

That said, I don’t seem to be a certain type of nerd. Yesterday on MetaFilter someone made a post linking to a bunch of anti-nerd websites. Now, you would think that five anti-nerd websites on the same Internet that gave us BoingBoing would be like adding a drop of red food coloring into the Pacific Ocean and then wondering why it didn’t even turn pink. Nevertheless, there was a strong reaction in the comments, with people horrified and outraged that someone out there might not think everything Neil Gaiman does is EPIC WIN and had dared, dared to say so.

I got pulled into the fray and managed to keep my face clean even though this has been a long-standing problem of mine. That problem being, I am sick to death of “nerd culture”.

I am tired of zombies. I am tired of Joss Whedon. I am tired of steampunk. I am tired of Monty Python. I am tired of zombies. I am tired of ninjas. I am tired of Batman. I am tired of bacon. I am tired of Star Wars. I am tired of Nintendo. I am tired of zombies. I am tired of Halo. I am tired of elves. I am tired of Cthulhu. I am tired of Boba Fett. I am tired of zombies. I am tired of pirates. I am tired of Battlestar Galactica. I am tired of mecha. I am tired of superheroes. I am tired of Star Trek. I am tired of “funny” bands. Have I mentioned that I am tired of zombies?

Most of those things I liked at some point. Most of them I still like in some way. But all of them I’m tired of. I’m tired of hearing about them constantly, having them shoved at me all the time. Even — no, especially — when they’re “creatively” mashed up with each other.

I’m sick to death of the whole thing. I no longer want to hear about how something is EPIC, or AWESOME, or BEST ____ EVAR, or MADE OF WIN because you have no way of discussing anything except opening your mouth and letting your 13-year-old Id sputter out nonsense. Likewise, I don’t want to hear about how anything is MEH or FAIL because it didn’t immediately pump endorphins into your brain.

But most of all, I’m sick of nerdism as the geek form of jingoism, planting your stupid flag somewhere and shouting your patriotic lines and demanding the fealty of others and being unable to actually talk about the thing because you’re too busy being into the thing.

And it’s not like I’m spending my days at the comic shop and my evenings at a sci-fi convention, with time out for massive D&D sessions. Sure, I’m in front of a computer for most of the day, but I don’t go to BoingBoing anymore. I don’t do much of anything over at BoardGameGeek anymore. I don’t go to a comic or game store very often, and when I do it’s just long enough to do a little browsing and make my purchase and leave. I don’t read i09 or Slashdot or ComicsAlliance or any of the other major nerd sites. I don’t follow Warren Ellis or Neil Gaiman or William Gibson on Twitter. I don’t even visit much of any Lego sites. Yet I still, still, get more than my fill of this sort of thing on a daily basis. I don’t know what, short of simply abandoning all my interests and taking up stamp collecting, I could do.

In what I said on MetaFilter, the one line I really want to present as the takeaway is this:

you can be into a thing without having to be into being into a thing

I am a Doctor Who fan. I enjoy watching the show and talking about it. This doesn’t mean that I need to see a few seconds of a single episode (“I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.”) repeated and recycled and remixed and recontexted and rewhatevered until everyone is begging you to just stop, stop, shut up, enough, and even then someone will still stand up and go WHY DO YOU HATE FUN?

I’ve often compared nerds to evangelical Christians in their similar habits of (a) making sure everyone knows exactly what they are into at all times and (b) trying to get other folks into that thing as well. And most people find these things annoying in religious folk and appreciate it when they ease up a bit on it. Yet being a nerd and saying to fellow nerds, “You know, it’s okay if you don’t quote something every time there’s an opportunity to quote something.” is somehow being a huge hater who hates spreading hate and hate-like objects. It’s not seen as it’s intended, as a voice of moderation from a fellow member of the tribe, designed to tone down some of our more enthusiastic brothers.

Again:

you can be into a thing without having to be into being into a thing

I’m not saying you shouldn’t nerd out loud, that nothing should be appreciated or repeated or anything. As a wise man once said, “It’s not that you wear Batman t-shirts. It’s that you only wear Batman t-shirts.” You know that guy who is only into football and talks about football constantly and wears the football shirts and is completely lost if he’s in a situation in which football is irrelevant? Being the same guy, only about anime, doesn’t make it better.

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47 Responses to If You Want a Vision Of The Future, Imagine a Steampunk Boot Photoshopping a Fez on Batman — Forever

  1. Halle-fucking-lujah. Man, I wish I’d written this.

    One of the things that’s so dismaying about the whole latter-day geek culture is how intrinsically childish it is. When you’re shopping for a birthday present for a five-year-old, you get them any old bullshit — a backpack, a skateboard, a toy race car — with Dora the Explorer on it, because the five-year-old likes Dora the Explorer, and because she’s five, she can’t make the distinction between an actual artistic product and a cheap cash-in. No doubt the geek community, who forever bristle when anyone wonders why they spend so much time on cultural product that is directed at 13-year-olds, would object to being compared to toddlers, but they practice the same extreme lack of distinction in their choice of entertainment: a Cthulhu plush toy or a Star Wars trucker hat or a steampunk dildo doesn’t make any more artistic sense than a skateboard with Dora the Explorer on it, but they’re reacting to it the same way that the five-year-old does. “Yay! I like Batman and I like zombies and this is Batman and zombies! Yay!”

    Earlier this week, everyone in Geeksylvania shit themselves because there’s an animated version of “Batman: Year One” in the works. I love the comic, but the producer of the film claims it will be a totally faithful, exact remake, which led me to wonder: why bother making it? All the geeks on my Twitter feed boo-hooed at me and called me a fun-hater, but no one could articulate any reason they were looking forward to it beyond “AWESOMESAUCE”. The whole rationale seemed to be “Hey, here is something I’m already familiar with, and now it’s in a different version while still being utterly familiar!” But, I dunno, how about instead of watching a two-hour shot-for-shot duplicate of something you already have memorized, you go read a novel? One that doesn’t have elves in it? Or watch a movie that isn’t set in the future? Or listen to a record? There are other options. Liking something doesn’t mean ONLY liking that thing. Your life doesn’t have to be an endless series of reiterations of something you already know.

  2. Nate P. says:

    My thoughts exactly (both this post and Leonard’s comment). This is a good distillation what Patton Oswalt said in that Wired post that he got called a hipster for. If all the supposedly enthusiastic new geek overculture does is revert to long-established brands and doesn’t actively seek out experiences beyond the stuff they liked when they were kids — even if that stuff’s (ostensibly) grown up alongside them and has some merit on its own — where are the new ideas and evolutions of genres and archetypes going to come from? If popular culture is increasingly driven by geek culture, and geek culture is largely based off an escape from reality, where are we going to get new works that people can relate to on a level that engages with the world more directly? Where are the geeks who are as enthusiastic about cultivating the legacy of Robert Altman and Kurt Vonnegut as they are about Star Wars and Marvel comics? (I mean, I know a couple, but I’d like to be reassured that there’s more of them.) I like blow-shit-up stuff and spaceman hijinx plenty, but if that’s all there is to someone’s entertainment options — not to mention their cultural identity — it’s an unsettling precedent.

  3. Gus Sheridan says:

    The football fan comparison is one I’ve been making for years and good to see somebody else make it. Nice post in general.

    There’s a lot of stuff from when we were kids that I didn’t like even back then. When I was FIVE. And I don’t need to see them updated and thrown back in my face at FORTY. They still stink.

    And I agree with everything Leonard and Nate said.

  4. Lugh says:

    I hate the defensiveness often present in nerd culture, where everything must be positive and everyone must be cartoonishly ecstatic about everything at all times. I think it comes from a misunderstanding – people don’t want to spend time with you because you’re annoying, not because you like Superman and the world operates like an 80s movie.

    In regards to Batman Year One: I think “OMG IT WILL BE THE MOST FAITHFUL THING EVER” is a generic movie adaption statement, especially in regards to films derived from comics. I understand the sentiment, after all one of the reasons I hated Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was because it was mindlessly faithful. However, I’m looking forward to the Year One movie because I’m interested in seeing what the animated interpretation of Mazzucchelli’s art will look like and because I think the talent involved is great, especially Bryan Cranston. I don’t care if sequences or piece of dialogue are omitted or whatever. Yeah, I disagree with you about it, but you have the right to think otherwise, and I don’t think you’re wrong, exactly. And I agree that people jumping down your throat about it because you have the AUDACITY to not be completely enthused is pretty dumb, and definitely part of what I hate about nerd culture.

  5. Nicole says:

    I’ve spent the majority of my adult life not being nerdy enough. This is how the conversation usually goes:
    Me: “I like your shirt”
    Other: “You like this show too?”
    Me: “Oh yea, big fan. Watch it every time it reruns and have it all on DVD. Can quote some scenes by heart.”
    Other: “Haha…I have three episodes memorized entirely. Do you watch Show X that Actor Y is now on, what about Movie A that Producer C is done one episode for? Oh, Actor E is going to be at the convention this weekend are you going? I’ve front row tickets with guaranteed access to autographs.”
    Me: “Um….”
    Now, I realize that it’s a good thing I left that maniacal narrow focused obsessing behind when I was a teen, and matured into a more well-rounded nerd.

  6. Oesophegus says:

    My honest issue with the concept of anti-nerdery is that it’s a form of nerdery in and of itself that’s built off the same damn foundations as nerd boosterism.

    The only thing nerds love more than anything else is bitching about other nerds. There is nothing nerds adore more than the sense of smug moral superiority that comes on shitting on other nerds. Randing from the Nerd who’s into hard sci-fi sneering at the fantasy nerds to Gay nerds (And holy shit about the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in the ranks of nerd cultural stupidity is nerds turning being gay into the equivalent of liking Star Wars more than Star Trek.) using their sexuality to seperate themselves from those other terrible nerds to anything relating to Joss Whedon ever.

    Nerds in general need to get the fuck over themselves.

  7. MaxBenign says:

    I’m reminded of the piece you wrote about message boards and other online communities, observing the way that over time they become less and less about whatever the community is ostensibly celebrating and more about the community itself. That’s another way of being into being into a thing.

  8. Stewart says:

    Good job, Dave. I enjoyed reading this.

  9. erik says:

    I’ve never given a blog post a standing slow-clapping ovation, but if I were to do such a thing it would be to this one. I’d say that I’d like to see the “I’m tired of zombies… have I mentioned I’m tired of zombies?” rant on a T-shirt but I think that would somehow demonstrate that I’d missed the point entirely. ;)

  10. Roger GS says:

    Also, you can not be into a thing without having to be into not being into a thing.

  11. Andrew Weiss says:

    That is the stupidest fucking statement I’ve ever read, Roger.

    And I read the Congressional Record and the Boston Herald on a regular basis.

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  13. Luc says:

    Well put. It seems as though nerd culture is overtly afraid of noticing the context of their obsessions, to the extent that a franchise–let’s aim for the low-hanging fruit and say Firefly–which is, in fact, given a disproportionate amount of attention is nonetheless treated as if it were something that desperately needed to be advertised. Of course, there was a point when the show was relatively unrepresented, but that point was nearly a decade ago. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t enjoy Firefly, but when that enjoyment takes the form of continually bemoaning its cancellation as though the world (and pop culture) hasn’t grown since that time, it feels like fans don’t enjoy Firefly intrinsically inasmuch as they like it because it allows them to feel in opposition to some ill-defined “mainstream.”

    Of course, as the notion of “browncoats” would suggest, it seems like that very message of “OMG rebellion!” is the primary message that many people see in said show.

  14. T. Derscheid says:

    Dave, you know what I like? Gunnarkreig Court. I feel like I could show that to someone and they wouldn’t think less of me.

    Also, re: Python, I was running game demos at OwlCon two years ago and an adorable little 11-year-old girl did a Python quote, and grinned at me. Yeah, cute when you’re 11, not cute when you’re 31.

  15. Jen Trenchant says:

    If you feel put upon by single topic enthusiasts of any sort, be it sports or zombies maybe the problem is you need to hang with different people. Or perhaps they aren’t single topic, but you are too busy being annoyed to steer the discussion elsewhere.

    It is a typical nerd to engage in bogus, politically tone deaf, melodramatic pronouncements: “I’ve often compared nerds to evangelical Christians in their similar habits of (a) making sure everyone knows exactly what they are into at all times and (b) trying to get other folks into that thing as well.”

    Evangelicals really truly seek force their values upon others in various ways which disregard social and legal boundaries and ranged from intrusive preaching to discrimination to violence. They truly see unbelievers as moral inferiors and possibly evil to be fought against. They exert real social pressure on everyday life. It’s twice insulting to indulge this sort of hyperbole, both to the real victims of evangelical culture and to nerds, most of whom respond to someone who doesn’t share their interest by going away and finding someone who does.

    Nerd culture is completely optional. Don’t like it, don’t read the blog posts, macros and discussion groups, don’t get into conversations at comic book stores, avoid conventions. If you have a friend who spouts too much nerd stuff you can filter their posts on Facebook or *actually talk to them about it like a human being*. For all their immature and/or annoying enthusiasm, nerds just people with an interest in pop culture and largely self-aware. At worst you may have to exert the minimal energy of avoiding them at a party or changing the topic of discussion, just like with the football guy.

    What you are really saying Dave is “Other people like things I like in a way I don’t approve and I want them all to shut up.” And also: “Only I know who to appreciate this thing in the proper way, everyone else is pathetic.” Which is perhaps the most sad version of nerdism.

    It’s another version of the eternal annoying superior cool person cliche: “Yeah, that was great until everyone else liked it.” It’s also, to indulge your own metaphor, akin to the behavior of evangelical Christians, who are quite willing to condemn fellow Christians who don’t share their exact means of worship or political agenda.

  16. Dan Coyle says:

    Dave, I get what you’re saying, I do, but…

    Are these people REALLY standing on your neck? Or Dorian’s? Or Joss Whedon’s?

  17. Jen Trenchant says:

    Those metafilter links you claim aren’t the anti-nerd sites you claim they are. They’re insider nerd critiques which mostly reflect a respect for nerd culture.

    1. Nerds Ruin Everything is a love/hate catalog of nerd excess, using “ruin” for some distance of something they still enjoy, much like “Hello Kitty Hell” and other such sites.

    2. XKCD Sucks is nerd behavior, obsessively deconstructing a particular strip the author once liked but now dislikes, in part because it got too popular. They do nail Randall’s sexism issues.

    3. Gamers Are Embarrassing isn’t anti-nerd but calling out racism, sexism and other creepy behavior in the gamer community.

    4. Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits criticizes bad journalism and has the slogan “Gamers Deserve Better” not anti-nerd .

    5. Stuff Geeks Like is insider satire which again targets nerd sexism, racism, homophobia as well as the more stereotypical flaws. Frankly, Stuff [fill in the blank] Like is pretty much a standard self-critical humor and by now has addressed the contradictions and hypocrisy of every subculture.

    6. The Five Geek Social Fallacies could be rewritten as The Five Bro Social Fallacies with very few changes. Any group which involves bonding and social anxieties of some sort exhibit these fallacies to some degree though I would argue male groups tend to be the worst.

    I’ve read about viscous infighting in the Scrapbooking community which involved a nerdy immaturity and resistance to change. It’s not just nerds.

  18. Jen Trenchant says:

    The discussion on the metafilter post is far from all “WHY DO YOU HATE FUN?” or “how dare you statements” in fact it’s a thoughtful discussion about productive criticism and hatred.

    Samples: “I think that challenges to the lazy misogyny, homophobia and racism in both games and gamer culture are valuable and necessary. On the other hand, I wish it could be done without calling people lame, retarded, fat or nerdy.”

    and

    “I’m a nerd. I just don’t seem to be the type of nerd who thinks that “mashing up” Star Wars and Pokemon is EPIC AWESOME. I’m not the type of nerd who thinks that a joke only gets funnier the more times you tell it…I assume there are moderate Christians out there who try and tell their more zealous brothers to tone it down a bit. That’s kind of where I am.” (from an alleged Nerds Ruin Everything author. Again with the Christian metaphor. Nerds need to realize that fandom isn’t religion.)

    and

    “The other thing is all the nerd ‘hate’ on this thread is coming from the same place as the hipster ‘hate’ in other threads (and is sometimes aimed at the same object). It’s recognizing the bad tendencies in your own subculture and pointing it out.”

    and

    The problem is that alot of geeks haven’t grown out of that period when you’re 15 and doodle the Imperial logo on everything.

    From where I’m sitting, the problem is more that a lot of geeks haven’t grown out of that period when you’re desperate to find someone you can feel like you’re above in the social pecking order.”

  19. Jen Trenchant says:

    Though personally I think obsessive fandom of any pop culture is a dilution of the nerd/geek/etc. concept, which used to apply to something involving skill and/or academics at the expense of social norms.

  20. Zhu Wuneng says:

    I wrote something very similar to this on an old blog several years ago, except about punk rock. I was about 27 and talking about what a bunch of adolescent man-children the punk rock crowd was, and how embarrassed I was that guys my age were still lacing up giant boots, encouraging teenage belligerence,proudly hanging out with kids, and claiming membership in crews. I talked about how skinheads and Oi! Punks were ridiculous suburbanites playing British working-class dress up and running in packs because they had no sense of self-identity, crusties were glorifying poverty and substance abuse because both were just things they dabbled in, tattoos of guns and brass knuckles were either the sign of sociopaths or dilettantes, and straight edge was meaningless after around 25, you just either drink or you don’t and neither should be the basis for writing letters on your hands. And if you’re not straight edge you still don’t need to sew a PBR patch to your vest.

    And I still think everything I said was more or less correct, but later it occurred to me just how mired I was in the same stuff I was criticizing. Who’s more the fool, the fool still playing hooligan at 33 or the fool in the same basic life stage taking the time to pick him apart? Who was more ridiculous, Profane Existence and Leftover Crack for still telling kids facial tattoos and 40s were the coolest things ever, or guys like me who have basically stopped going to shows and hanging with their old friends and have normal haircuts now, yet who still took the time to notice what was going on with those same meatheads?

    I like your blog Dave, and of course it’s your call what you put on here. I even sympathize, to a large extent, because I’m sick of the context-free mush of everything geek related. I never thought as a kid I’d be sick of zombies, Lovecraft,and bacon, but I actively avoid them now (well, except bacon, but I avoid discussing it). I got sick of Pharyngula largely because PZ is just so into all those irritating nerd tropes (and his fans are assholes). But the thing is, shit like this is just not so hard to avoid. If you don’t have to be into being into something, you also don’t really have to get into the social formulae surrounding it. I get by just fine rarely discussing anything I’m not into; I don’t read super hero comics, so I don’t really end up talking about them that much. I don’t tabletop rpg and haven’t for years, but it’s not like people are constantly asking me to pull a Brett Favre and get back into it. I do like boardgames and black metal, but I can indulge in both with absolutely no need to engage with the crazier aspects of either, or in the latter case anybody else at all. I never liked video games but my best friend is a gamer, and it’s never really been an issue, nor his his girlfriend’s ATHF tattoo, ill-advised as I might find it.Do I find it mildly silly that steampunk types walk around with gears glued to everything and some people are actually dressing like Don Draper now? Sure, but at base it’s no sillier than the way Sikhs, Salafi Muslims, and Orthodox Jews look in their medieval getups, which are based on something just as fictional, and which actually gets people killed to boot.

    I’ve also liked most of your critiques of geek culture, especially the weird sort of crypto-fascism geeks seem to be into (vis a vis your infamous stormtrooper post), but this kind of feels petty to me. I think Jen makes some excellent points. Just like I found Stuff Geeks Love funny at first, it over time just seemed increasingly bitter and wide of the mark, so this post feels like you crossing from perfectly valid criticism to a grumpy “Geeks, THIS is how its done.” You run a lot of right-on sociopolitical posts and links, and nerds just seem so small fry in comparison that I’d say I don’t really get the way it irks you, except I think maybe I do, for the reasons mentioned above.

  21. Jesse says:

    I see some of the points you’re trying to make, and I agree along the lines that geeks should not be a pack of raging conformists and partisans. Of course, I think no one should be those things, so that’s not saying much. For me, being geeky as a kid simply meant being myself, and I gravitated to the geeks who were simply themselves, and not attempting to brand themselves as anything. To simplify, having geeky interests is great as far as I’m concerned. People should like what they like, how they like, and not be ashamed. But assuming the identity of a geek, i.e. just going along with various trends and catch phrases because others do, that is bad. Maybe along those lines we agree. So what’s my rambling point here, you ask? I guess it’s that in all groups and cliques and genres, there is the potential for bad. Geeks are no exception. Maybe you meet a lot of bad ones, but in my life, many of the geeks in my life have been some of the smartest, kindest, and most interesting people I know. Am I right? Are you? People are simply people, and it’s better to look at them as individuals. Some geeks are bad, some Christians are bad, some sports guys are bad. Doesn’t mean they all are.

    It seems to me that you feel you’ve outgrown a lot of nerdy things, and that’s fine. You are free to like and dislike what you want. I just think drawing a line about what is and isn’t acceptable as fun and reasonable in any realm beyond the personal is a pretty slippery slope towards the very judgmentalness and team mentality you criticize. Frankly, the world is big, diverse, and diffused enough that you can enjoy Dr. Who and Legos, and ignore whatever bothers you, the way I ignore, say, MMOs. Beats getting angry at people who are wrong on the internet, or saying “nerd” like it’s a dirty word.

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  23. Mikester says:

    Hey Dave, I thought I’d jump in and post several hyper-defensive comments in a row that totally missed the point of your article, but I see that’s already been pretty well covered.

  24. Zhu Wuneng says:

    Or maybe people got the point and, you know, disagreed with him at least partially. Crazy idea, I know.

  25. Dan Coyle says:

    Oh come on, Zhu, it’s absolutes or nothing with this crowd.

  26. Oesophegus says:

    Zhu brings up a very important point. We’re starting to see the ‘OMG Nerd Culture is terrible’ posts from guys who started blogging or coming in at the early rise of the current nerd culture which is…what? Let’s put it in a time frame here.

    GI Joe was 20 years ago.

    Super Friends was 24 years ago.

    Star Wars 30 years ago, give or take.

    A woman I was working on a film with was making pikachu jokes and I thought hey aren’t you a little old for that….then I realised the kids watched Pokemon are in their 20’s now.

    We’re starting to see more of this sort of thing because holy shit you’re in your 30’s and you’re participating in the goddamn social mileu of kids in their late teens and early 20’s and you’re wondering why this shit is irritating you?

    Because you’re too old for it and at this point in your life maybe you should consider growing up and leaving the kids to their fun because it’s embrassing.

    That’s the problem with nerd culture at the moment. The perpetual tantrum of the aging nerd wanting to still be culturally relevant. It’s like an aging scenester, but worse.

    We’ve al gotten old and we should move the hell on.

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  29. JimTenyke says:

    Well, Dave, what a fine positive contribution you make with your post (and others I viewed after reading this one). You certainly have a right to such opinions, but I am not clear on why you let this insignificant stuff get to you so much. If you’re not making more effort to glean much positive energy anything from much, you may end up surrounded only by ‘friends’ who are also bitter and generally hate people. If you want to die a lonely bitter man surrounded by others just as angry at the world with poor coping skills, I can’t stop you. Too bad, as you might be someone who contributes to a decent conversation, even with differing viewpoints, but you seem rather insistent on the forever angry theme. Good luck, buddy.

  30. Zhu Wuneng says:

    Dan
    Eh, I don’t know if I’d say that. I do think there’s a certain amount of “it’s cool if my friends do it”, which crops up in any group, especially online. For example, I’ve seen Mike Sterling and his friends employ the same basic “why do you hate fun” line on dissenting commenters at his site. And recently Andrew Weiss ran a bit about journos praising Chris Sims and then condemning other journos for doing some of the same stuff Sims does regularly, which at least one commenter noticed. In general, though, I think Dave (and Leonard’s) blogs are in the elite top percentages of the internet in terms on content. I’ll stop now because if Dave and Leonard’s asses look like the rest of them, I doubt I’d want to kiss them, but my main issue isn’t with critiques of geek culture per se, it’s that this particular critique seems a little silly to me.

    Oesophagus
    Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I don’t care in any kind of moral way if people want to be into the same stuff when they’re 40 as when they were 14. I even think society’s general definition of age-appropriate entertainment is kind of screwy; but yeah, time moves on and if you try to stick with the same stuff you used to be into and find that it’s increasingly leaving you behind, maybe the problem is that you and it aren’t just a good fit anymore. I didn’t stop reading super hero comics because I felt I was too good for them or because their fans are annoying, I stopped because I simply was no longer really enjoying them. I still read Andrew Weiss writing ABOUT super hero comics for the same reason I enjoy reading Matt Taibbi’s commentary on the NBA, simply because I find the writing itself entertaining. I find his Comic Punks blog boring so I just DON’T READ IT or discuss it on Facebook. Not that hard, really. I also don’t think geek culture is such an overwhelming tsunami that Dave is incapable of escaping it. To use Dave’s own football analogy, if I invest myself in football fandom but then complain I’m sick of football and about what a bunch of morons football fans are, suddenly the guy who never stops talking to me about football doesn’t seem like the guilty party.

    Dave
    The new post that’s an outgrowth of this one, again, seems to start on kind of a petty note. It really seems like the old geek culture fallacy that “if I’m pissing people off, I’m doing something right”. I didn’t see a single comment that boiled down to “shut up hater, Battlestar Galactica is TEH AWESOME”, or anyone who really just is such an uber-geek they couldn’t take a little criticism. You’re not just “irritating the geeks”, you fundamentally misrepresented the character of the metafilter post that set you off and the comments that followed it (as Jen pointed out) and then used that as a springboard to complain about how tedious you find something that is fairly easily avoidable. Previous posts where you attacked geek culture were usually good and occasionally great because you had cogent points and you seemed like an insider who refused the kool aid, rather than a guy fixated on things you’re ostensibly no longer into. If you’re really over the whole thing, cool, but if you publicly make a big deal of just how over it you are and criticize other people for not being as mature and enlightened as you, well, shit, that may just lead to some disagreement. It’s kind of shitty to just write that off as “irritating” a bunch of “hyper-defensive” geeks. I agree with your basic point in the new one; the word “awesome” is a meaningless bundle of letters that signifies nothing and it’s boring to have all conversation reduced to inanities. And this has absolutely zero to do with sites like xkcdsucks seeming like the work of crazy stalkers or whether you’re force-fed a diet of zombies and Jedis.

  31. Dave says:

    Zhu et al.

    Here’s the gist of the two posts, diluted and combined:

    Geekdom has become Taco Bell. The same few things in different combinations disguised as creativity and then declared “Awesome!” to avoid any genuine critique or discussion.

  32. It seems that people in this comment thread are now unable to tell the difference between “I am bored with (e.g.) comics” and “I am bored with the kind of people who like (e.g.) comics and have neither critical faculties nor the ability to tell when they are being incredibly irritating”. Why am I not surprised at this?

  33. Dan Coyle says:

    Hey Zhu, I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  34. Dan Coyle says:

    Andrew: No, I can tell the difference. I just think Dave’s being an asshole. And unlike Sterling or Wright, he used to know better.

  35. Zhu Wuneng says:

    Dave
    Agreed, witty even. Which is why I don’t go into Taco Bell everyday and then run a blog about how much I hate Taco bell and wish I had other options, but I live in a town where the only buildings are my house, a taco bell, and a Del Taco, and short of giving up an interest in food I can’t stop being bombarded by Taco Bell propaganda or regaled about mashups of the macho 99 cent burrito and the chalupa. If I did have such a blog, though, I’d hope it would at least have some entertaining writing about how awful each item was, like yours; I hope it wouldn’t just be a list of stupid things Taco Bell commercials have said (if I’m being too subtle, that’s the analog to Nerds Ruin Everything, Shit Otaku Say, etc.)or obsessively listing everything I hate about the manager (xkcdsucks). Man, I missed the good old day at the Taco Cart, before Taco Bell fucked it all up! I guess I could just make Mexican food at home with a couple fo my friends and avoid this whole situation, but where’s the fun in THAT?

    Shorter version; I think the anti-nerd thing can become it’s own form of thoughtless, reflexive jingoism. The same way the word “hipster” lost all meaning and just became a general term of abuse that every moron just lobs at, well, any white guy who’s not a nerd, frat boy, or blue collar worker basically.

    Andrew
    Uh, did you actually read the comments? Because it seems like you’re referring to a completely different conversation.

  36. Zhu Wuneng says:

    Sorry, I’m begging off here. I quit blogging specifically so I wouldn’t sink huge amounts of time into arguing about things I have no real investment in. I’m not very good at it, apparently! Late.

  37. Wolkin says:

    Do you guys ever wonder if you’re spending too much time investing your intellectual energy in the wrong things?

  38. Lovecraft In Brooklyn says:

    Hey, dude who posted that stuff to Metafilter originally here. The vague point I was trying to make (beyond gathering a bunch of links under a Descendants lyric) was pretty much what Dave talks about here.
    Like… I love Nu Who. It’s pretty much all I’ve been thinking about the past week. My dreams last night were a weird mix of Doctor Who and Portal. But I’m not coming into work dressed like The Doctor. I’m not photoshopping him on everything and working on Doctor Who zombies. That sort of thing is irritating, and gets in the way of the story Doctor Who is telling.
    ‘The cake is a lie’, when I finally encountered it in Portal, was a creepy moment of madness hidden behind the sterile walls of a prison. It would have been a lot more effective if it hadn’t been yelled and screenprinted and tattooed and knitted onto everything in the past 3 years.

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  40. Chris T says:

    If I read this post two years ago I would have just shrugged and moved on. But two years ago I became for a while long term unemployed and broke. I decided it would be a good idea to dust off my D&D books and join a group as advertised online: it was free and I needed some kind of social contact, any kind. Soon enough I left the group in disgust. Not only did they display the personal quirks accurately described above, which taken alone would have made them merely annoying, but at least half of them were also smug assholes.

  41. Chris T says:

    Sorry, that was a bit harsh. I don’t mind the cosplay thing: some people just like to do dress up parties whether they identify as ‘nerd’ or not and good luck to them. It’s a thing people do. But the zombies and quotes, the endless quotes.. I’m cool with narky comic reviews too. They’re what brought me back. It’s fun. At school we were big Dr Who fans but we also loved ripping on the cheap effects. Not so much these days. But for a while it was RTD : )

  42. Dan Coyle says:

    Well, you’ll be happy to know this post was banging in the back of my head all while I was watching “Day of the Moon”, as I slowly got irritated with the sloppiness of the pacing. So thanks for that!

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  44. James S says:

    Hi Dave, I recently wrote a similar piece on my blog, inspired partly by yours, so I thought I’d come and say somthing. I’m also pretty disenchanted with geek/nerd culture. I have a response to the contributers above who suggest that the problem here is that you have outgrown the culture, and essentially you are like a 16 year old who has outgrown a kid’s fad getting angry at the kids for their obsession.

    I don’t think that’s the problem here at all, or at least not the problem I identify. The toxic element of nerd culture is that people choose to never outgrow it. It’s bad for society for adults to splinter into sub-cultures, especially ones based on consumption or fashion. That’s what kids do. For an adult to choose to remain obsessed in an adolescent manner with some trivial piece of entertainment just seems unhealthy, and potentially harmful to the social order. How will the kids know when to stop being obsessed with trivialities? They won’t. It’s all part of the Peter Pan complex of western culture. I can’t believe I’m putting forward a variant of “please, think of the children!” But there it is.

    So to put it as simply as I can (hey, I read your Einstein quote up the top!): It’s not obsession that’s bad, and it’s not immaturity that’s bad. It’s the combination of obsession and maturity. It’s OK to be uncritically obsessed with anime when you’re a teenager. Not when you’re 40.

  45. John M. says:

    Great post. To the people who say we can just ignore this and go on our merry way – well no, we really can’t if we want to use any mainstream sources for news on video games and movies. Hell, even if we just want to relax with the politics community, we’re STILL going to have to deal with nerds commenting on anti-Fox News articles about how Fox canceling Firefly was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

  46. ASH says:

    GREAT post- I have the same feelings but have not been able to articulate it this well! Thanks!

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