Tribes. What are they good for?

by capelesst

“What set you claiming?/ Better be the same set I’m claiming” – Cypress Hill

I know, I know, Cypress Hill, wtf.

The other day we’re talking in the store where I work, and the manager, K, hears that we’re discussing The Big Bang Theory. The show, we’re not that smart. K suddenly comes out and says he doesn’t like the show for the part it played in promoting the “geek” label, specifically the way it made it seem like comic-book fans are all socially awkward in various amusing ways.

I hadn’t ever thought of it like that, because I just think Sheldon’s pretty funny and the female characters are terrific together. But K is a grown man who has spent his life working around the comics industry. He likes live music and a range of films and TV. I would never have classed him as a geek. He’s a great guy, and a guy’s guy.

I don’t identify as a geek, or as a nerd. I identify as Taylor, pretty much. If someone says I’m geeky, I don’t object particularly because I can kind of see what they mean, but if you ask me, I’m just me.

Anyway, K then says words to the effect of, “where I’m coming from is the cool kids read comics, its rock and roll”.

I hadn’t thought of it like that. I’d gotten as far as “anyone who out of hand dismisses comics as a medium is a doosh”, but that leaves a lot of room for sneering and condescending, a lot of room for pigeon-holing and labeling. However inclusive Big Bang Theory may claim to be, and however much a group of people numbering in the millions may identify with it and feel validated by it, its cashing in on the social discomfort of millions of people who through no fault of their own are uncomfortable with how society perceives them.

It reminded me of the craziness of the “cool” cycle, and how much I admire people who resist it, resist the shifting definitions for their own convictions about what rocks. Because really, there are two “cool”s. There’s the “cool” that’s sold to you, and the “cool” you find. Only one matters.

Anyone can say anything is cool, think whatever they want, but life’s too big and too varied to be lived in one niche, or even perceived in one niche. Identifying as any category larger than yourself is pointless, at best a statement of the obvious, and at worst a limiting of yourself to better fit other’s sloppy labeling processes. Its also ultimately a knowing misleading of those people, and if persisted in, of yourself.

Hesse says we are each composed of a multitude of souls. [I love Hesse]

Does “geek” seem a fitting name for that? Does anything?

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