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Journal Journal: What Are The Qualifications To Be Considered A Geek?

This question has popped in my head a few times, but the answer always seems to escape me. Musicians for example, should play some kind of instrament in order to carry the label "Musician". A "Chef" should know how to cook. A "Student" is someone who goes to school and learns.

Stereotypes, weither we like them or not, are often used as indicators of what type a person you are or what group you fall in to.

Musicians usually have a "Type A" personality. Their outgoing, like preforming for people, and can be found in bars, on street corners, malls, concerts, etc. I've noticed that fashion is often taken into consideration. If your a rap artist, your probably sporting some type of oversized chain, wearing name branded clothing like fubu or adidas. Punk rockers often have dyed hair, peircings, and their clothing is usually raggy by design. Hair bands usually have long hair and tend to look somewhat like masculine women.

Stereotypes by defintion are used often to label a certian class of people. But most of the time, their used as derogatory classifications.

An experienced *nix user for example, is often put in a bad light. The trolls usually refer to them as freeloaders who are overweight. They have poor hygene, and they have the worst luck at getting a date. They're often considered elitists who tend to be condecending to the "unenlightened" as well.

Now I know that isn't the case, I have met and talked with quite a few *nix users who don't even come anything close to those remarks. As with most stereotypes however, they tend to be gross approximations of a certian group. There's always an an abundance of exceptions too.

Here's the definition of "Geek" according to

1. a: A person regarded as foolish, inept, or clumsy.
    b: A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.

2. A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.

I have trouble considering myself a part of the geek crowd. Way back in sophmore year of high school/VOTECH (grad of '99), I hung out with a bunch of people I considered geeks. I always felt like an outcast compared to them. While Dave would talk about his cool DEC Alpha, Dan would chime in about his latest project in his C programming class. Vince ran linux and had his own dedicated ftp/webserver at home. I on the other hand, was heavily into BBS's, and had an IBM XT at the time.
Sure it was old, it was very dated even then, but maybe I was just a newcomer into the bigger world we call geeks.

That's not the only thing i felt like an outcast with. Alot of people asked me why the hell was I hanging out with such a nerdy group. I suck out like a sore thumb amongst them. the other guys were a bit husky to begin with. Vince always seemed to wear the same Rancid concert shirt, Dan wore thick glasses, blue jeans and always wore something that had the simpsons or southpark on it. Dave was a preppy looking guy who sported khakis and a polo shirt bearing the name of Micosoft, Sun Systems, or some other tech corperation logo.

Here I was, 130lbs, clean-cut, and had a decent array of various clothing. Nothing super fancy, but i dressed pretty well for a HS sophomore kid in the 90's. I also had some popularity amongst the other students.

On a technical and social note, I was a fish out of my waters next to the other guys. And people who knew me took notice too. I felt like I was cought between two social groups most of the time. Mainly becuase, i wasn't *as* popular as the popular kids, yet, i wasn't as geeky as the nerds.

It's a hard thing to deal with when your a kid. Most kids want to be idenified as being a part of a group, to fit in and feel like they belong to something. The semi-popular kids hounded me with critcism from time to time for hanging out with the geeks. and the geeks were always a bit timid of me because i was the sore-thumb-sticking-out in their group.

Now a days i'm 22 and my tech knowledge has grown exponetially since then. I built quite a few systems, including this system, an Athlon 700mhz. I have 4 PC's and a pentium IBM laptop on a home LAN. I do upgrades and system building for friends and family and I have my own linux box. I lust after the latest gadgets, and my #1 news is tech news. I'm into hacking tivos and xboxes and when i'm bored, I play with lego mindstorm sets.

Although to this day, I still feel like i'm cought between two social worlds. I still don't consider myself as a geek becuase the label is so vague. There are so many people here on slashdot and elsewhere who have far greater knowledge and experience of technology then I do. I consider them geeks becuase of this.

In any case, this entry is becoming long-winded, but I wanted to give you some background, and to make my question clear enough so I can get some interesting feedback.

What are the qulifications to be considered a geek? Should you be a programmer? Hold a tech job? Should a geek be running something other than Microsoft Windows on his personal computer? What should every geek know? What should every geek be interested in?

And most of all, what do you consider a geek to be?

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