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.
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.
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.