There are times when it is troubling to be a geek, especially one without much money to begin with. When I was but a child, I used to be so jealous of the toys that other people have, mostly because I could never afford them myself. I always made do with the toys I had, taking them apart and building something more that I could always amuse myself with. Even when I didn’t have the parts for it, I would make them out from whatever I could find. In fact, there was a point in my childhood where I was good in arts and crafts, not because I had any talent, but because I would simply make kitchen clay or papier-mâché to make do for the toys I wanted.
Decades later, I don’t think much has changed. I still get jealous at the fact people seem to get brand new toys to play around with, more so when I can’t afford them. It especially pushes all the wrong buttons to know that a lot of people don’t seem to understand how to work the toys they have even though they wanted them all along. It always pisses me off to know that I can probably put the high-tech phones that a lot of youths take for granted to better use than filming their vigorous crotch movements or Tweeting about whether they are stuck in traffic jams.
The sad truth is that technology and the domain of geekery, has been spoiled by the pursuit of a better self-image. No longer do people consider geeks to be people hunched over their monitors and tables trying to create something the normal masses can’t openly grasp. Now, all you have to do is own several Apple products and even if you have no idea how to use it properly, as long as you’re seen using it at all, you can proudly call yourself a geek without fear of being laughed at. The very thought of such an act sickens me to the stomach.
Laptops, phones, cameras and all the gadgets that follow are no longer items that you only buy if you need them. They have become fashion accessories and status symbols of wealth. Before this, being on the bleeding edge meant that you understood what was going on and in some way are involved in the process that helps shape them. Now, being on the bleeding edge means going on an ego-trip by yelling out “I’m here first” without a clue what it really is all about, let alone help dictate and shape the direction in which the technology or idea should evolve into. The overuse of “beta” in web-applications and the overabundance of “me-too” tech blogs only serve as a shameful reminder of this change of direction.
While it is easy to accuse me of writing this out of spite for what I don’t have, it’s also hard to ignore the fact that what I’m saying has its merits too. The landscape and definition of what it takes to be a geek has changed to suit the mainstream society. As long as you look the part and have enough to show for it, you are a geek, which is a far cry from actually being able to intuitively understand new concepts of technology for your own benefit.
I guess at the end, I’m only angry at superficial distinctions of a word. It shouldn’t really matter how many toys we all have if it all boils down to how much you’re able to make use of what you have for the things you really need. In those aspects, I’m pretty much well covered despite pushing the limits of my creativity. It’s more that can be said for people who own things because they can.