A funny thing happened on our way from school, from being the awkward ones, the picked-on ones, back in the day when it wasn’t yet a good thing to be the smartest person in the room.
“All of a sudden, geeks become cool,” writes blogger Michael Poh. “They are now admired by their peers for their superior intellectuality despite their perceived lack of sociability. Now we see the rise of ‘geek chic’ as celebrities like Justin Timberlake donned geeky fashion clothing and the inseparable geeky specs. Geeks like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Steve Jobs are now immensely rich, famous, and most importantly, worshiped by everyone else for their innovations.”
Wait, did he say “lack of sociability”? Well, that’s the stereotype, anyway, along with liking science fiction and fantasy and being fascinated by technology –perhaps to the exclusion of people.
But being an introvert is cool now, too. Geeky introverts are clamoring — quietly, of course — to have their own strengths recognized in a world of extroverts. “You can ‘lean back’ and use your natural strengths of keen observation and listening to assess the environment and people and make powerful meaningful one on one connections and conversations,” Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, tells Forbes. “It’s not always about being the loudest or the first to speak up.”
Geeks are seizing their power.
Look at how many of the year’s top films are on science fiction and fantasy themes. Despicable Me, Man of Steel, Monsters U, Gravity, Oz the Great and Powerful, Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, the Croods, Thor, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Only one non-geek movie (Fast and Furious 6) is even in the top 10. And the top movie of the year? The biggest geek of them all, Tony Stark, the guy with an engineering lab in his basement, in Iron Man 3.
The weekend before Thanksgiving was the uber geek fest, the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, featuring worldwide simulcasts of the “Day of the Doctor” episode on television and in movie theatres (including some in 3D), some of which were unadvertised and still sold out in half an hour. “Add a live simulcast pre-and post-show event that unfolded online and on TV, as well as a massive social media campaign, and you got record-breaking television ratings around the world, including 2.4 million viewers on BBC America (which increased to 3.6 million following an encore screening later in the day),” writes Liz Shannon Miller for GigaOm. Showings of “Day of the Doctor” earned more money per screen than Catching Fire, because so many of them were sold out.
All this for a TV show that was originally so cheap that its evil villains were spray-painted cardboard because that’s all the BBC could afford.
And the shift to embracing geekdom isn’t just happening in the movies and on TV. As country artist Brad Paisley describes in his song “Welcome to the Future,” we’re all doing things that would have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, like being able to play Pac-Man on our phones. Those same phones, incidentally, have more computing power than NASA had to send astronauts to the moon, and everyone takes it as a matter of course.
Being a geek is becoming mainstream. Even — dare we say it — cool.
But only if we geeks allow it to happen.
“Ever since IT departments emerged from the back room of mainframes and card feeders and into the boardrooms of executive leadership and strategic imperatives, IT leaders have struggled to shake the image of taped glasses and social awkwardness,” writes Stephen Fishman in CMSwire, describing the fruitlessness of “making” IT “cool” in the enterprise. “Coolness is not a destination at all. Coolness, like happiness and fulfillment, comes from within. Coolness is a state of mind.”
In other words, you don’t have to do anything to become cool. You are cool. Accept your inner coolness. Carpe geekdom, y’all.
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