Love Your Geekdom and Love Your Differences

I love what I love, and I love what I do. I’m also the only me on this earth, and in the same way, you’re the only you. Being different is truly is a wonderful thing because that’s how there are so many different geeky things to get into—and we, as geeks, in case you didn’t notice, are all different.

A circle of different colored human figures

We geeks are a diverse bunch of people. Pixabay

There’s a rap song that I’m very fond of, “Say I Won’t” by Lecrae featuring Andy Mineo, whose chorus has an interesting set of lyrics:

Say I won’t!
Why y’all scared to be different?
Say I won’t!
Why y’all scared to be different, huh?
Say I won’t!
We dem outsiders, that’s just how we livin’
Say I won’t
And I bet I will, you can say I won’t!
I might do it just to show ya!
I might do it just to show ya!
I might do it just to show ya!
We be like la! la! la! la!

Now, given that Lecrae and Andy Mineo are Christian rappers, I can see how one would view the song as being intended to challenge Christians to stand out and not be afraid to be nonconformist. And yes, the song does talk about that, especially in Lecrae’s verse. However, there’s more to it than just that. The song talks about simply being different from everyone else, both from a hip-hop standpoint and from an everyday-life standpoint. If anyone wants to call you on it, then “Let your freak flag fly!” as the geek adage goes. (I do question bringing back fanny packs and velour sweatpants, but hey, you do you.)

Growing up, I was different—I’ve mentioned this several times in previous articles. I was simply not into the same things as everyone else around me. But I’ve discovered that it wasn’t just the fact that I was geeky and my friends and family weren’t; as a geek in my adult years, I’m different from most of my fellow geeks too. In what way? Well, I don’t like most Western comics and superheroes, I don’t like sci fi, and I especially can’t stand high fantasy as a genre in any form. I’ve never seen many of the iconic movies associated with geekdom, including The Princess Bride, Labyrinth, and most animated Disney films (aside from the Pixar and other computer-animated ones). And even among the “geeky” movies I have seen, there are many I didn’t like, such as The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of NarniaHarry Potter, and most movies in the DC and Marvel universes, barring a select few. I never cared much for most western TV shows associated with geekdom, either, not being able to get into Game of Thrones or anything involving Marvel’s comic-book characters. I never liked Star Trek and at best would only be considered a casual fan of Star Wars. As a gamer, I never liked World of Warcraft despite playing it over the course of a month upon the insistence of a friend. Heck, with one exception, I just never liked MMORPGs in general due to most of them being based in a fantasy setting. And I was never good enough at competitive multiplayer games and so would spend most of my time playing Japanese role-playing games, simulation games, and more recently indie games that few people have heard of. I didn’t have a Nintendo handheld gaming system growing up, so I never really got into Pokémon. But perhaps the most painful is that I missed out on great video games growing up because I thought they were dumb.” Games like Wild Arms, Suikoden, Kingdom Hearts, Jak and Daxter, The Legend of Zelda, The Prince of Persia, and many, many more. I’m still kicking myself over those.

What I do like, however, are firearms, anime, single-player and indie video games, hip-hop and rap music, j-pop, j-rock, Vocaloid songs, anime and video-game soundtracks, music equipment (especially guitars and DJ gear), Japanese cars, YouTube gaming, and people who aren’t afraid to do something crazy or revolutionary in music.

Despite my likes and dislikes, it’s all okay, because I’m not afraid to be different while still being a geek.

Does it suck sometimes? Of course! I’ll find myself at a convention and not be able to talk with my fellow geeks because we don’t share a fandom in common. This especially true at comic conventions and even at CONvergence. I just don’t share the same love of comics and superheroes, sci fi, and fantasy that many other geeks seem to have. But at the same time, being different comes with some very, very important upsides. First off, since I don’t like and sometimes don’t care about what other people like, it allows me to view things objectively. Without an attachment to a specific character, plot point, setting, or fictional universe, I’m able to look at it as an outside observer.

Secondly, being different can be an asset to my strong creative streak. As a DJ, especially as a turntablist and scratch DJ, I’m not afraid to try new scratch patterns and techniques because I just don’t care what other DJs are going to think. As an instrumentalist and composer, I’m not afraid of doing what anyone with a formal musical education would consider “wrong” or “weird,” like using a banjo and sitar in a hip-hop instrumental, rapping over bagpipes, or composing hip-hop songs in unusual time signatures such as 5/4 and 9/8. When I’m onstage, I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself because honestly, being the same old emcee or toned-down performer is kinda boring.

Thirdly, being different also means that I hold myself to a different standard. Instead of caring about what others want me to be or letting myself be crammed into a box, I pour my energy into being the best me that I can be. After all, instead of trying to be like everyone else, I can only be me, and I’m the only one who can be me.

Saying that my experiences and upbringing in an “antigeek” Cambodian American community were 100 percent negative would be kind of missing the point of being a geek. After all, one of the common ideas shared by geeks and nerds is this hunger to never stop learning and always look at situations from several different perspectives. I do hope as well that you, as a reader, can look back and reflect upon your own experiences, positive and negative, and connect them to how you’ve come into your own as a geek. How they have shaped you and influenced how you interact with the community and how you’re able to turn them into positives or use them as a means to benefit the community as a whole. And, of course, knowing that your own experiences are also what makes you unique and different from everyone else and that you can use that to your advantage in a good way.

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