So today in my inbox I find an email from a lovely company named Speak With a Geek. Geek, Geeks, ugh… I looked at it with disgust, immediately sent it to the trash can, and began to reflect on what is happening in this industry.
According to Wikipedia…
The word geek is a slang term originally used to describe eccentric or non-mainstream people; in current use, the word typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with a hobby or intellectual pursuit, with a general pejorative meaning of a “peculiar person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, or socially awkward”.
Although often considered as a pejorative, the term is also used self-referentially without malice or as a source of pride. Its meaning has evolved to refer to “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”. (Link)
Geeks For Sale
The Geek association with technology has been prevalent for many years in business. We have GeekSquad and ThinkGeek among others. We also have this huge STEM deficiency. For years we have had science geeks, math geeks, computer geeks… Makes me really wonder how this deficiency happened. The skills that are driving this economy were the ones tagged with such a term and now people are stumbling over each other to make up for it.
Today, we’re seeing people use Rockstars and Ninjas in lieu of the word Geek. It’s a great start but it’s not enough. Especially with industry brand ambassadors, there needs to be a correction. In such an overly PC world, it’s funny this hasn’t been addressed yet in a vicious twitter battle. As much as we talk about breaking glass ceilings and leaning in, the general population still is fed this Geek perception.
We see it in movies and on TV. It’s in all the advertising. Business leaders in other industries, sports stars, and other celebrities generally don’t have this issue. Only in tech, can we find a kid trying to read an article about their idol to only see their screen plastered with ads with the word Geek on it. It takes away from the power of the message. It reinforces negative stereotypes. It degrades the industry.