Why Geek Culture Gives Me Hope (OP-ED)
I know you’ve felt it. We all feel it. The world is heavy.
This year we’ve lost so many heroes (Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, etc.). We have a presidential election with two primary candidates that feel like villains in an 80s action movie. We’ve seen a global racial divide that has caused riots, an unacceptable amount of police shootings, finger-pointing by calling multiple races “terrorists,” active revolt and even an entire nation voting to “Brexit” from the European Union due to xenophobia. We’ve seen an ugly backlash towards feminism. We continue to see whitewashing in our pop culture. We have Fintech prepared to take thousands of jobs away from people by using automation tools to accomplish their tasks. And with all of this chaos happening, I’ve came to the conclusion: geek culture gives me hope that we can make it through this.
It sounds lame and naive, but since spending my time as a Staff Writer for FanBros.com, that’s always been my message in every single article. Even if you haven’t noticed, I’m very excited for the future. It could be said that I’ve always have been this way because I’ve always found a sense of belonging in geek culture; that it provides a sense of escapism as a coping mechanism in hard times. For me, this dates back to when I was just 15-years-old and helping run an anime convention (Cleveland Colossalcon). If you’ve ever been a part of a massive convention, you know that all of the tiny problems that turn into huge ones and accomplishing things can feel impossible some days. But you’re also providing something special, new or even forbidden for some people in their average home life. And you’re helping them realize they’re not alone; that there’s a whole world out there which they belong to. Being a part of this helped me gain the confidence I need to go back to school, be proud of my geeky style and enjoy the journey when I get to explore my freedoms outside of my hometown in adulthood.
You see, there are three main factors that are crucial with the core Geek genres (science fiction/fantasy) that should honestly apply to all of life:
- Inclusion is usually nonchalant: Growing up, we saw a black female lead The X-Men while that book was at the top of the charts. We’ve seen friendships between different races and species find better solutions to large-scale issues.
- Curiosity and Optimism: These two go together so well to create the recipe necessary for intellect and the ability to learn. Sometimes that knowledge is rewarded and sometimes it’s not, but the courage to discover and better ourselves in the process is so important for anyone to move forward.
- The Constant Stride To Create Progress: This is my favorite. This is everything to me. To have a hero trapped in the center of a desert without water or friends and he/she stands up and continues to walk forward? That says everything about us and our culture. We continue to create new ways to enjoy our hobbies and each other using technology, social interactions and even improvements in our lifestyle. We are the “canaries:” we’re the first ones dropped into the mine to see if it’s safe. We are the taste makers, the trend setters and we have to be fearless in the process. Because, as long as we have each other, we don’t need anyone else’s opinion.
So, as I look at 2016 with these Geek Core Values (GCV), many of these issues become moot. These values have even led me to a career as a software engineer and big data analyst. To constantly build, architect, create and structure new things requires a large amount of patience, but also a mixture of GCV 2 and 3.
Let’s look at some of the examples of this year:
Racism isn’t new. This new level of aggression for our generation? Yes. But, we are all stronger than that. We will all be called horrible things and people will try to have rights taken away from us. But, take this word of advice from a data analyst who takes the time to weigh out all of this: There are more of us than there are of them. And by “them,” I’m referring to those who oppose open-mindedness. Those who haven’t gathered that broken systems and bigoted beliefs aren’t sustainable. How we react matters, but how we continue our day-to-day life is the true definition of positive progress in rough times. Just like in Geek Culture, you’re not going to be able to explain our situation to anyone who doesn’t want to have the open mind to hear it. But, we don’t need them to understand. We not only have each other, we are capable of creating systems within our own communities to continue to make progress beyond their mistakes.
But, another way to view how to approach this through the eyes of geek culture is by using GCV 1 and 3. I once attended a convention and saw a young, caucasian girl dressed as a Pirotess of Record of Lodoss War. A dark elf. Ever seen one of those?
They look like this:
So, yeah. You can see how with the right makeup applied, it can get very offensive. I was lucky enough to see the results of this and I was both horrified and in awe: A group of other girls (four in total, all of different cultures) approached her about her costume and the uncomfortable levels of inappropriateness. The girl stopped, tears streamed down her face and she was mortified. And it became clear rather quickly what had just happened: She didn’t know. She wasn’t aware it was offensive. The girls even walked with her to the bathroom while she was crying and consoled her. What happened from there is unknown to me, but the fact that this situation was handled with the care and tenderness that sensitive subjects like this deserve is amazing. And that was this year at MagFest 2016. Geek culture achieved something amazing, once again.
While I mentioned the article earlier in regards to creating our own system to stabilize us in these hard times, this is also a strong solution to help us move forward in something that is hovering over us every day: The 2016 Presidential Election. All of our choices are bad. Some of us feel like our vote doesn’t matter as we fight to make it home, see our family, have our rights and even just exist until the next day….
But we need to fight differently. Being a geek means you are a forward thinker. We don’t try to break through walls: we go over them, around them or even under them. We don’t need to entertain the wall with our attention or concern. I know I’m known as the “Bitcoin Guy” in the FanBros initiative but that’s only because it gets results. It can help us gain independence. It gives us our own resources combined with the rest of the world. It gives us anonymity. It gives us the finances to control our communities in masses. And it scares whoever is in power, because it makes them obsolete (once again, please read Our Revolution). One of the advantages within geek culture is that we have a hobby and culture that allows us to be advanced. Not only in our ideals, but within our currency, technology and lifestyle.
DEATH OF OUR ICONS
And we haven’t just lost celebrities, this year: we’ve lost icons. We lost pioneers and taste-makers. We’ve lost the ones who molded our views in film and music and more. Risk-takers. Self-motivated achievers of impossible odds. Once again: “canaries.”
But with GCV 2 and 3, looking towards our futures is the best way to honor these icons. While we may never have that same experience of seeing Prince live again, we do have the opportunity for any individual reading this to create content, change people and move us forward. We have inexpensive cameras and YouTube. We have self-publishing deals for music that require no label and you can fully create a fortune/enterprise like Tyler The Creator. And it doesn’t have to be about money but the opportunity to bring a message to people. One of the latest ways to make your voice known is by creating your own content in VR/360-video to immerse random audiences across the globe in your experiences, from your perspective. We even have companies like Jaunt VR who will LOAN you these cameras to give you these experiences.
We live in a time where kids of the 80s get to make full sequels or remakes of things they enjoyed when they were children (J.J. Abrams, Duffer Brothers, Colin Trevorrow, Ryan Coogler, etc).
I don’t want to see the next Prince or Bowie. I want the next icon to be their own thing because that’s what an icon is. And all of us are now capable of providing that and filling this void.
You know what else we can learn from geek culture? The ability to learn and teach others (GCV 2). The patience it requires to get someone into a tabletop RPG can be ridiculous if you’re doing it from scratch but the one thing each player will tell you is that “it’s worth it.” That it provides these amazing experiences that can be relieving and everything you’ve asked for. That it can show you the true colors and mentality of your friends in every scenario and that it can create a bond that often betters you as a person.
I will always do my best to apply this to teaching those who want to excel. To pick each other up when we feel lost. We can give others the opportunity to succeed without trying to carry them. There’s so many fish out there we can teach each other to catch and all you have to ever do is ask. We can lend a hand and not pull ourselves down. We can bring each other to where we need to be. And I’m proud that’s this is possible, because in the age of technology every resource is available to you on the same device that you’re reading this message on.
And while I’m still new to the team, I feel lucky to work with FanBros and to see Benhameen, a friend I’ve known for seven years, constantly make progress on his dreams. I have Jamie as a mentor and amazing friend who’s always encouraging, just like you would hope a sister would be. Tatiana is always focused and is an excellent compass for this ship. And Chico remains to be a wealth of knowledge that you always want to learn from. There are many more members of this FanBros family that I’m actually looking forward to having a drink with because I enjoy being part of a group of individuals who are always looking towards progress. And of course there is YOU: our community of friends that inspire us to move forward and bring you all the news and experiences to get you through your week.
Obviously, the world is not one large convention floor but, that doesn’t stop me from treating it like it is. And so I can continue to be inclusive, hopeful, curious and constantly moving forward in 2016. I hope you will too.
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