When Nerds Collide
Meredith L. Patterson

to me, it’s scary that people only need to be “judged by their work.”

while i wholeheartedly support working hard, i support it for its intrinsic values. working gives you something to do, something to take pride in. and i mean ‘work’ in the widest sense of the definition– hobbyists do work, and they do damned great work, too.

in the sense that ‘weird geeks’ seem to use it, one’s life’s works are used to judge a person’s worth. i have MANY objections to this sort of thought process.

  1. people are worth every last ounce of love and care. no exceptions. no excuses. there’s a balance to be had between one’s self and others, and there are times when it is kinder to be mean, but on the whole: people are worth it. judging a person by their work is often an excuse to not care about those who don’t or can’t do good work. and that is pure anathema to me, in and of itself.
  2. judging someone by their works ignores structural difficulties. it is the pan-discriminatory variant of what “color-blindness” is to racism. to judge people by their ‘work’ alone completely ignores the work they need to do to be able to do that work in the first place: for women, emotional labor men don’t have to do. for POC, caretaking of white folks’ feelings. for LGBTQA/MOGAI folks, it can involve anything from hiding in fear to standing up to bigots. for differently-abled or -bodied folks, it can mean pretending to be ‘normal’ or dealing with people who are pissants because they aren’t. “judging someone by their work” ignores all of this because it doesn’t think of any of that as work. work is the product, here: it doesn’t matter how much work you put into it, it matters how much other people can use it (and by extension, you).

while i can understand where it comes from (it’s not as if society teaches much else for those who don’t fit in), it is completely frustrating to me that my field is grounded in the systematic devaluation of people in favor of results.

as a biromantic demisexual diagnosed-depression woman who wasn’t ever exactly in the popular crowd, but who wasn’t shunned, either, i know i have a different viewpoint from the kids who made social faux pas and no one bothered to tell them what they were doing wrong.

moreover, it’s not like the geek communities have been especially welcoming to me, even though i do some pretty fan-fucking-tastic work. it doesn’t matter if i do amazing shit, i’m a friendly girl in computer science with geeky interests and guys for miles (literally, okcupid lets me know where people are) place me on some weird pedestal of “the girl who gets it”. and then they proceed to want me to do all of the emotional work of a relationship? carry every conversation? that’s not fair to me, and it just makes me more unable to want to meet ‘weird geeks’ on their own level. to proclaim you only care about work (and many do, explicitly or implicitly), when in my experience that is furthest from the truth (it often only counts when the work is that of a straight white male), is offensive in and of itself. it’s unacceptable to me that i have to hide integral parts of my identity to even join in on the conversation. i appreciate that you include your caveat; but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the often stalker-esque, jealous behaviour i’ve gotten from ‘weird geeks’ who i didn’t even know. i shouldn’t have to feel unsafe working late in my own university’s computer lab that’s only ten minutes from my house.

all that aside. no one should have to prove they’re worth it, ‘weird geek’ or not. i’m so tired of convincing myself that i am. i’m so, so very sad that other people believe in shit that makes them have to convince themselves, too.