There’s No Solidarity Anywhere

When I lived in Blacksburg, VA for 6th and 7th grade, I was harassed for:

  1. Enthusiastically liking video games…even though every boy owned a NES. You couldn’t talk about it in school. The only acceptable non-school topic was sports.
  2. Enthusiastically liking movies and characters from movies such as Freddy Krueger.
  3. Enthusiastically liking rock bands such as Guns N’ Roses…because the kids of low income families that were bussed in from the neigboring towns liked them.

I did find a small group of friends that were freaks and geeks. It was great. They introduced me to D&D and other RPGs. We sketched TMNT comics in woodshop class instead of doing the assignments. Then I moved back to Raleigh for 8th grade and beyond. Raleigh was different. The kids were nicer. I didn’t get harassed but didn’t get noticed either. I was fine with being invisible. In no time, I found a new small group of friends with geeky interests.

I’m getting to the point…

Being young and naive, I thought there was solidarity among those that were physically or verbally bullied or harassed. That you wouldn’t grow up to be a bully yourself, but it’s not called “revenge of the nerds” for nothing. So not every adult nerd and geek is empathetic and compassionate. Some are straight up dicks. The only American subculture I knew off before geek/nerd was hip-hop, and social justice is a strong component of it. Using hip-hop as my only framework, I assumed a philosophy or political ideology was attached to all subcultures. I was wrong. Geek, nerd, goth, burner, and others exist as escapism. That’s it; that’s their primary directive. That’s an awful big and problematic tent they’ve got there, as I and everyone else have seen over the years.

Now specifically to the recent up tick in sexual harassment and assault discussion…why is the “nice guy” label the default for a nerd/geek? Is it because we are shy and look meek? I don’t think women should assume that and let their guard down, even a little bit. In part because of the bullying, there is arrested development among geeks and nerds. There’s less opportunity for us to socially interact with girls during the teenage years. Little to no interactions erroneously defaults an awkward guy in the “nice guy” camp, when he should be in the “hasn’t solidified what kind of guy he is yet” camp.

This is my fear: That when I step in to help after I see harassment happening, I would be told by the parties involved and other witnesses to mind my business. So I remain invisible. Just observing.

Updated: 2nd draft. Now with more words.