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Journal Journal: Why are "Geeks" So Unhealthy?

When you think of a *nix geek, how do you picture him? For me, it's one of two extremes: gangly and undernourished, or obese and unkempt. My bias is justified, though, when I see pictures of some of the more famous geeks:
  1. Eric "esr" Raymond
  2. Richard "rms" Stallman
  3. ...even our own CowboyNeal

Now, keep in mind that my observations on the health and appearance of these people does not at all reflect the respect I have of their work, where respect is due. Many of these geeks and hundreds more have made stunning contributions to the world: especially to the world of technology.

Are they unhealthy because they are geeks, or are they geeks because they are unhealthy? I venture to say that it is the latter. Let's face it, if you are unhealthy and/or unattractive, you are likely to develop a more introverted personality. That, by it's very nature, will estrange you from the public eye. Technology is a wonderful haven for people who are hiding from the general public, and as all of you know, the more time you spend with technology the more profecient you become, and the more likely you are to make a significant contribution to the public through it.

As an example, let me ask a question: Would Stephen Hawking have made the same advances if he had not been confined to a wheelchair and so severely disabled? He is one of my true heros, but he has since he has chosen not to give up and let his handicap destroy him, the only way he has to fight it is to use his mind--so that's what he does, constantly. I daresay that if he were not disabled, he would have spent more time in social situations, with family, etc., and would have had less time to explore the universe with his mind and report the results.

Unfortunately, under- and over-nourishment is dangerous, and a serious detriment to anyone's health. When this is the staple that geeks swear by, how can we expect to stay healthy?

What we need to realize is that, while we should praise the endeavours of geeks around us, and even those of ourselves, we should come to an awareness that our health needs to be our number one priority, regardless of our social status (ascribed or percieved). Personally, I've begun to work out on a daily basis (I gave up on gyms...get a Bowflex, they're worth the money, and it's yours to keep long after a gym membership has expired!), watch what I eat (lay off fried foods, cut back on caffiene, cut out most beef and pork), and get plenty of rest.

It may seem futile now, but a lifestyle altered for the better will likely extend your life for many years, and make those last years good ones. It's time to spread the word, but most of all, to heed it yourself. The following are some great books and articles with more information:

  1. An interview with a "fitness guru" on
  2. An eating guidebook by two computer geeks with a child and active careers.
  3. A website dedicated to "Yummy teen and geek nutrition...
  4. A discussion on Slashdot about this very subject.

Promote Healthy Geeks!


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Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.