“Geeks,” I said, “Geeks! That’s what you need in your life.”
I was trying to explain to my friend as we sat in the pub why I think she would benefit from having some people in her life who don’t follow the crowd. Why it might be good to surround herself more with the type of people who, just as a ‘for instance’, would prefer to dig up dirt and find Iron Age brooches than to dig up the dirt on perceived love rivals on Facebook.
This had followed on from a long and animated conversation about all the bad influences in her life, and then led to us drinking a toast to how, actually, we don’t really like 'people'. To quote Charlie Brooker from the back cover of his excellent book, ‘Dawn Of The Dumb’:
“I don’t get people. What’s their appeal, precisely? They waddle around with their haircuts on, cluttering the pavement like gormless, farting skittles. They’re awful.”
Of course I know not everyone’s like that – I know you’re not, for a start. But we all know what Charlie means by ‘farting skittles’ and sadly, in her self-proclaimed bid to ‘fit in’, my friend has allowed herself to be drawn to their world.
I sense that many of the people with whom she wants to fit in are also desperate in their bid to fit in. They are full of insecurities disguised as material aspirations and boob jobs. To fit in to what they see as ‘normal’ – to meet the expectations of others, the irony being that those ‘others’ with their expectations are also doing the same thing and so it goes on and on and the most shallow social stereotypes get reinforced. To be true to oneself, to embrace one’s funny little ways, quirky interests, tastes and obsessions, to accept one’s imperfections and to have a different perspective in a world full of farting skittles (I’m getting to like that term more and more) – well, it makes you a bit of a geek.
I realised I was a bit of a geek from quite an early age; there was that time at primary school when my best friends were the ones who hated sport but loved reading - plus, they were boys. Andrew and the two Ians (one with an extra ‘i’) shared my interests – we all liked drawing and tortoises and the Wombles and playing in the sandpit with our Itty Bitties. It was a happy time in my life, but I realised that Andrew, the two Ians (one with an extra ‘i') and me were not quite like the majority of our classmates. Later, my close girlfriends were the ones who went through punk with me, we revelled in being in a minority in our neighbourhood, and in our school, we liked the music no-one else did and the look that people ridiculed. But then on Tuesday and Saturday nights we’d go down to our local gig venue and fit in effortlessly with all the other misfits. We found our niche.
My friend said that ‘fitting in’ and 'wanting to be normal' had always been her desire, even in childhood. She must be one of the few people I know who didn’t have a teenage rebellion. But through not just going along with the majority, you find your own crowd of like-minded others, don’t you? Work and broader social situations may require compromise, but there’s no point in trying to change yourself into the type of person who’s never going to ‘get’ you anyway.
I'm hoping my friend will embrace the true geek in herself, and then she'll find some others who will embrace it too. It's about time.
Itty Bitties. In case you were wondering...