I was all revved up to write a rant about this, but why?
Do we need any more fucking rants? I doubt it. It's all been ranted before. The next time I see some jackass solemnly and piously node some trite truism he memorized off the radio -- as if it were a serious goddamn revelation that nobody'd ever heard before and he's bringing the fucking tablets down from Mount Sinai -- I'm gonna scream and hit something. It's okay, they gave me a padded cube at work. And a padded monitor, desk, etc. They take good care of me there. They said I can start having visitors soon, if I'm good.
Yep, they take good care of me. After all, I'm a fucking "high-paid geek", am I not? I know C++ and when I say "stack trace" I sound like I know what it means! (And in fact I do.) The pivot on which the world rotates is stuck right up my goddamn asshole! I'm the lord of all I survey! After all, I don't work at McDonald's, now do I? Heh, right you are, chum. I'm it baby, I'm the cat's pyjamas and a whole lot more.
Okay, I'm ranting. Let's stop ranting now; they called the attendant.
Maybe pivot was the wrong word up there, but it sure sounds good, doesn't it? I'll keep it.
I sat through the whole sick mess on Slashdot last year with Jon Katz and the Columbine High School shootings. Mostly I gleefully instigated idiotic flamewars about gun control (if you saw the "thousands of drive-by knifings happen in school cafeterias every year" post, that was mine), but I also gave it some real thought. Like a lot of us, I thought about (a) the freaks I used to hang out with in high school, who suddenly looked mighty familiar, and (b) the horrifying fact that I tended, instinctively, to sympathize more with Harris and Klebold than with the random entirely innocent kids they shot, most of whom had never said "boo" to them. It was a big school and they shot whoever was within range. It was pure chance if they got anybody with whom they actually had a legitimate gripe. (What's with these idiots who claim that Harris and Klebold were somehow "driven to it"? Hey, kids, we all went through some shit in high school and very few of us killed anywhere near as many people as they did. Let's not be too simpleminded here, okay?)
I also gave a whole hell of a lot of thought to the strident geek identity politics that seemed to coalesce there. The ideas were all old news, but to me it looked like it was gaining not only publicity but momentum and more of a popular canonical ideology than it'd had in the past. It was turning into the kind of thing you could name and point to, and have that mean something consistent and predictable with regard to a hell of a lot of people in a hell of a lot of places. A lot of isolated "me"'s were becoming one big "us", in a sense.
It's hard to pin these things down, but it looked like a trend from where I sat. Even if the chatter wasn't qualitatively changing, there was just so damn much of it . . . There was a creepy feeling of being "part of something", which I didn't enjoy then and which I enjoy even less now in retrospect. I'm a grown man for God's sake. I'll choose my own thoughts for myself, thank you very much.
"Geek Pride" pisses me off. Geek machismo pisses me off, geek identity politics infuriates me, geek ubermensch syndrome drives me right up a goddamn tree. There's something about arrogant, smarmy, self-righteous, self-congratulatory "my group is better than you" bullshit that really makes my skin crawl. And that dismal "geek code" thing. WTF is that? Ninety percent of it is height, weight, eye-color, and other attributes which (correct me if I'm wrong) are attributes of just about everybody.
I'm a "geek" myself, mind you; or at least I used to think I was, until I read all the geek pride writeups here explaining how being a "geek" means eating sushi, buying certain comic books, renting certain movies, wearing certain t-shirts, programming in goddamn horrendous ill-conceived useless languages like perl and tcl (or more likely just talking about it), blah blah blah ad nauseam. It's apparently a purely arbitrary list of "approved activities", and none of it has anything to do with me. I'm a C++ programmer, not a TV critic. So I guess I'm not a "geek", regardless of how many programming languages I know (quite a few more than most self-described "geeks", it seems to me). Anyway, the thing is I'm not coming to this as a complete outsider.
"Geek ubermensch syndrome"? Whazzat? That's this crap about how " 'geeks' are smarter than everybody else", and " 'geeks' will rule the world because they can configure sendmail", and all that jazz. Umm, right. Yeah, everybody does need computers. BFD. Everybody needs air conditioning, too. Are HVAC maintenance people going to rule the world? "Necessary" is one thing, and "well paid" is gratifying (though you'll never catch up to what they pay sales or management, buddy -- not unless you change careers), but "ruling the world" is another thing entirely.
Still, my impulse to kick these kids in the head, however laudable it may be, is misguided. Let them have their fun, such as it is. Let them dream their dreams while they need to. A lot of them really are getting tormented by meatheads; if geek ubermensch syndrome idiocy gets them through high school alive and more or less intact, with no firearms discharged in the hallway without a pass, that's a fine thing.
Everybody needs to believe in something. The nature of the world and the human organism is such that it's usually (if not invariably) something idiotic. Come to think of it, I don't know anybody who doesn't believe deeply and sincerely in something breathtakingly dumb, myself included. It's usually harmless. After all, noise on Slashdot has never amounted, and will never amount, to anything at all beyond page hits for andover.net.
Oh, dammit. I wrote a rant after all.