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Journal: Geek Culture

Journal by Schezar

Today, I realized just what an eclectic person I've become. (Which prompted me to dust off the old blog... What a geek...)

I was at Borders book shopping, and I came to this realization when I laid my purchases on the counter. The girl looked at them and glanced up at me with a slightly puzzled expression, and at that moment I noticed just what I had bought. A book on learning Korean, a book about a rather obscure philosopher, and a somewhat girly manga (don't make fun of me! ^_^*). Now, to me my purchases were perfectly logical, but to this other person they were strange. It got me thinking.

I listen to Japanese and European music. I watch Asian cinema. I play "weird" video games (DDR, old DOS games, Atari 2600), German board games, and Dungeons & Dragons. I drink Australian wine. I go to Linux conventions. I watch hockey. I mountain-bike and compose music. I vacation in Sandusky Ohio, Wildwood New Jersey, and Baltimore Maryland. I have countless friends on half the continents and most of the states, but few in my hometown.

And so I began to wonder just how I'd come to be this way. My interests and lifestyle are so vastly separated from the people with whom I interact on a daily basis that I often have very little to say. My culture has become independant of my locale, and as well independant of my peers.

What I don't do is just as telling as what I do. I don't watch television. Ever. I rarely go to the movies. I dislike malls and detest fast food. I rarely drink soda or beer. I don't read magazines or newspapers or listen to the radio. I don't go to bars or clubs. I don't even have a landline telephone. This often leaves me with no common ground with most people. I have no interest in the "latest episode of such and such last night" or the scandalous liason of the secretary in the other department, and similarly they have no interest in the latest Slashdot article or the newest board game to come out of France.

So from where have I derived my culture? After much thought, I've come to two factors that, together, have brought me (and many other geeks) to this state: university, and the Internet.

University

Fresh out of high school, I met the majority of my circle of friends early on at the campus gaming club. 20-odd different cultures with a few common interests (Anime, Role Playing Games, Computers) came together, and each shared its own unique interests (German board games from one, DDR from another, etc...) with the rest. In short order, a sort of amalgamated group culture emerged: Geeks. Our interests converged as we lived, worked, and played together.

Now, this in itself is nothing unusual. In proximity, people will generally adapt to form local culture. This is the basis of civilization. Furthermore, if a person leaves one place and moves to another, he will lose bits of his old culture and gain bits of his new one, if for no other reason than his physical separation and increasingly sparse contact with his past.

This brings us to the second factor, and here is where it gets interesting.

The Internet

Most any information is available on the Internet, and the Internet is accessible from (theoretically) anywhere. Moreover, it is the same Internet when a person is on one place as it is when he is in another.

It thus removes the need for physical proximity in maintaining culture.

I have moved away from my uni. I live 310.88 miles from the former centre of my cultural identity. The Internet, however, has allowed me to first stay in easy and frequent contact with all of my former friends and second to indulge my cultural interests online. As I have maintained contact with my culture, I have not been susceptible to the assimilation pressures of my new place of residence.

I am still a geek, even if there are no other geeks near me.

Enlightenment

Journal: Happiness 4

Journal by Schezar

I'm a happy person. In fact, I'd say that I don't know a single person who's happier than I am. I'm sure there is such a person somewhere, but I just haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting him. My room-mate is close, but I'd say he's about equally happy to me, so he isn't actually "happier." We're both equally happy.

Now, I know a lot of sad people. Many, many people are generally bummed, depressed, suicidal, or otherwise just -sad-. Quite frankly, the concept is foreign to me. Alien.

You see, I never get sad. I'm happy no matter what happens in my life. I've been momentarily miffed, occaisionaly vexxed, and more than once frustrated, but never long enough to spoil the general feeling of utter joy I experience each and every day. I haven't been angry at anyone in many years.

((Skip down to the bottom if you want the short version. That's where I get to the point!))

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One of the things that I believe facilitates this feeling is my firm belief that words alone can never hurt anyone. NEVER. Now, before you say that isn't true, indulge me.

First off, I'm not talking about words that cause action. Telling the police that I'm a murderer will hurt me indirectly, but the words themselves caused no harm: you and the police did. Nor am I talking about words spoken behind one's back. They can indirectly harm a person's reputation, but they cannot actually harm the person directly. I am also not talking about blatant lies along the lines of "Your family was just killed," when such is not true. Such meanness is beyond the scope of my little dissertation/rant.

That being said, words can only come in one of two varieties: they are either true, or they are false. Let's take the case of the latter first. Obviously, if what someone says is not true, it cannot hurt me. "You're fat, and your mother is a whore" does not harm me in any way. I am actually quite lean, and my mother is a saint ^_^. The statement can't offend me: it isn't true. Indeed, there is no way in the world to offend me or make me sad with a lie. If I were somehow affected by that statement, then there must be some truth in it of which I am ashamed.

That brings us to the case of the former: a true statement. Quite simply, I'm ashamed of nothing I've done, and I'll readily admit to anything. Suppose I'd done something horrible. Someone berates me for it. It's a true statement: what I've done is an inescapable truth. The statement cannot actually cause me grief unless I'm ashamed or bothered by my past action. As I've never done anything I'm ashamed of, there is no statement that can preclude my happiness.

I've been in some blistering arguments, and I've had bone-chilling insults thrown my way on many occaisions. Alas, they mean nothing, for they're either false, and thus not worth even considering, or true, and simply worth fessing up to.

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Another key factor in my unending merriment is the fact that I never get angry. No one has ever done anything to me which has made me angry. Sure, people have done some pretty nasty and/or shortsighted things to me, even in recent memory, but such trivialties are hardly worth being angry over, let alone losing friends for. Grudges are silly, and revenge is pointless.

Furthermore, I can honestly say that nothing bad has ever happened to me. No matter how dire a situation I've found myself mired in, I've always found my way out unscathed. Even the few scathings I've had haven't bothered me. You see, I tell people that "everything happens for a reason," but what I really mean is that "everything happens." The past is the past. Spend more than a moment looking over your shoulder at the rock you just tripped over, and the rock in front of you will get you just as badly.

I take adversity as it comes. As the old saying goes, when you ask the gods for strength, they give you hardship which, in the overcoming, makes you stronger.

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Death is another big thing. A lot of my friends are afraid of it, or else otherwise deeply affected by it.

It doesn't bother me at all. It happens to everyone sooner or later, so there's no avoiding it. Thus, there's no worth in worrying about it. Live, then die. Try to have fun in between. Worry about death after you're dead.

As for other people dying, it happens. You move on. Sure, you might never see them again, but there's nothing you can do about it. Death is natural: it isn't anything sad or devastating, it just happens.

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Here's the point of this whole unedited, non-proofread rant.

One thing I've noticed thoughout my whole life is that people are constantly trying to rain on my parade, to "convince me" that I'm not actually happy. They tell me I'm unfulfilled, or that I'm faking it, or that it's not -really- happiness, or some other such bollocks. I'm not sure just what to make of it, quite frankly. -I- know that I'm happy. What difference does that make to others? Why don't people believe that my life is just one long sunny day (and more importantly, why do what care?) They can't seem to live with the fact that nothing bothers me, that I take everything (and I mean everything) in stride.

(With rare, dire, extreme exception, like Nazis, or maybe Zombies,) nothing's worth being angry over, and nothing's worth fighting over: life is wonderful no matter what happens. People should spend less time trying to make me unhappy, and spend more time asking themselves why they care so much about it in the first place. Happiness starts with you: I'm already finished ^_^.

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As I noted before, this is a rant. Any grammar errors/typos can be carefully shoved you-know-where. ;^) I needed to kill some time at work, and after having had the millionth person try to talk me out of being happy, it seemed like a generally relevant/interesting topic.

Editorial

Journal: Socially Maladjusted People 2

Journal by Schezar

Something interesting happened today.

Under a story about gamers, I posted an anecdote about someone I knew (of) in college. It was somewhat exaggerated, and written more to be funny than to prove a point. The gist of it was that this guy, whom I dubbed "Loser" in the post, was addicted to Asheron's Call. I wanted to get some laughs, and I seemed to have (+5 Funny and all).

But then, an Anonymous Coward replied with this. If you follow that thread, you'll find a rather interesting exchange. It appears that "Loser" read and responded to my post. In sum, he seemed to blame me for not reaching out, as opposed to himself for not doing the same. He was "shy," so it was apparantly my duty to engage him.

One quotation in particular interested me. At least the people playing took the time to say hello once and a while.... unlike somone else who was actually there and couldn't be bothered to even say hello to another human in the same room not 6 feet away.! So indeed, he actually found the social interactions of the game to be better than those of the real world.

What bothers me is the second part of that statement. This man is angry that other people can't be bothered to seek him out. No mention of the possibility that those people likely saw no reason to do so, just a wide swath anger directed toward the world-at-large. It's their fault he doesn't have friends.

This attitute seems very prevalent among the various stripes of social misfits. They seethe in silent anger, yet never consider the fact that they may indeed have a problem, that there might be a reason people don't reach out to them. Perhaps they don't make eye contact, or they smell, or they're rude, or they're genuinly uninteresting to talk to. Or perhaps they just sit there, waiting. Waiting for someone to "save" them, to befriend them and magically whisk them away into the social world they've never known.

That saviour is never coming.

Now, I could write at length about this issue, or even this specific case, but I won't. These are mere symptoms of a larger problem. You see, this man and all the other socially maladjusted people in the world had to have come from somewhere. What could possibly make someone so shy, or so boring, or so socially inept, that they end up this way? Bad parenting? Video games? Drugs? Poor schooling?

Large numbers of people are entering the world, fresh out of high school, with little or no social skill. They aren't integrating into the culture of their species. It's somewhat frightening. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what to do about it.

If you have any doubt, and you happen to live near Rochester NY, stop by RIT's campus some weekend and take a walk through the dorms. Or stop by one of the large clubs for a meeting. You'll see a good number of funny, interesting people interacting and having fun (myself included). But, you'll also see a large number of outcasts either sitting quietly by themselves or attempting (and failing) to interact with the more social groups. In the dorms specifically, you'll come across closed dorm-room doors and sounds of Counterstrike through the wood... and nothing else.

User Journal

Journal: Hello World

Journal by Schezar

It's been a while.. For the first time since my freshman year of college, I'm loggin back into slashdot. I never really posted or moderated, but back then I didn't have hours upon hours of idle time at work with nothing better to be doing. ;^)

Methinks I'll use this journal. Could be interesting...

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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