The Measure of a Geek

Saw this Buzzfeed “What’s your Geek Number” quiz* making the rounds today, and I got a bit ranty about it on the twitterz. I’m porting those tweets over here, and expounding on them, because I figured it was time to stop spamming my followers. >.>

(*I’m loath to link to it, but eh. Go ahead and have a gander at the questions.)

From Twitter:

There’s a BuzzFeed quiz making the rounds about your “Geek Number.” And I get it, it’s a quiz on the internet, created for clicks. However.

It biases heavily toward comic book geekery, or “Have you seen ALL of X,” implying that if you haven’t, you’re not fan ENOUGH. If your favorite Doctor’s isn’t 1-8, it implies you’re not a REAL Doctor Who fan. And yet, most of the other fandoms it asks about are new. Sherlock! Supernatural! Harry Potter! So, becoming a fan of DW after the reboot is bad, but we’re ignoring other classic SF/F?

Also, questions asking geeks to wear some not-nice things as a badge of pride. Losing friends over canon arguments, skipping work for games. Oh, and several variations on “Do you judge people if they <do something that’s not geeky ENOUGH.>”

THIS IS PART OF WHERE THE FAKE GEEK GIRL THING STARTS. Measuring other people by how geeky they are/aren’t. Which is bullshit.

If you love a book, a movie, a fandom – from any decade – are passionate about it & want to share that with others, congrats, you’re a geek.

Even if you score a 1 on that ridiculous gorram quiz. We should be welcoming other fans, not telling them “You’re not fan ENOUGH.”

Right. So.

Part of what chapped my cheese is the idea that if you don’t consume a thing in its entirety, you’re not really a fan. Which, no. Look, I can binge-watch or binge-read with the best of them. But life happens. Other responsibilities take priority. Some times not only is there not enough time to devour a particular work from beginning to end, there’s also not always enough money.

The majority of the list is about more modern media. Which does not discount it, at all (you should see my DVR). But why doesn’t the older stuff count? The only things I’m seeing on here that’s pre-1980, at a second skimming, is the sneery jab at any Whovians unfamiliar with the show before Russell T. Davies picked it up and references to Dune, Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek: The Original Series. Geekery did not begin with GenX, dudes.

Where are some of the other new shows and books? Sleepy Hollow has an incredibly active fandom.  True Dective. Vikings. Teen Wolf. Where’s The Hunger Games and Divergent?

What about makery? Steampunk’s an obvious hole in the list. Knitting? I can’t tell you how many panels I’ve been to at cons where a sizable chunk of the audience gets out their needles. Couple references in there to fanart, but it’s more “Have you ever drawn your characters?” and ignores the artists on DeviantArt and tumblr who make a living off of their commissions.

And music. Oh my gooses, I just realized the quizmaker totally neglected filk.

Point is, there are so damned many ways to be a geek. We ought not make other people feel like they have to check off a certain number of boxes to “count.” If you love something and want to share it with others, you are a geek. Said my friend @fyriat:

YES. More geeks are a good thing.

If I can change directions slightly, there was something else about this quiz that left me feeling bitey: I sort of figured, when I saw the first 35 questions (39 if you count the 4 manga ones) were about comic books, this wasn’t going to go anywhere good. I checked a few of those boxes! But not, apparently, enough.

I’m annoyed at the sudden desire I had, when I read the text summing up my score that suggested I had a ways to go, to defend myself as a geek. Because y’know, as a woman, I don’t have to do that all the damned time anyway. I have written and deleted and rewritten and redeleted a line following this one laying out the ways I’m a geek, but you know what? No. Not this timebecause I can’t help but feel like doing so would undermine what I’ve said above:

If you are a fan of something you consider geeky then congrats, and welcome. You are a geek.

How about you share some of those things in comments? Introduce me to new stuff, or nerd out with me about stuff we both like. What’s your geeky passion?


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8 Responses to The Measure of a Geek

  1. April says:

    *Standing ovation*
    The idea that “you’re not geek enough” is appalling.

    I took the quiz to see what the hullabaloo was all about, and found it to be quite offensive and playing to the elitist, asshole geek–the one who is bullheaded, snobbish, and oftentimes, unhealthy (meaning more towards the emotional side of things, though occasionally the physically as well).

    I got 60/300. I apparently had a little geek in me at one time, but I’ve left it to atrophy away into adulthood or some crap like that.

    Frack that!

    I know I am a geek, nerd, gamer, etc. I like Doctor Who (And the new ones, as well!), movies and books with magic and Hobbits. I like graphic novels, though I I don’t necessarily buy individual comics. Have I read ALL of Sandman? Nope, but I love the ones that I have read–but according to the quiz, that’s not geeky enough.

    Last night, my book group met. We focus on reading speculative fictions of all sorts. Last night’s selection was an epic fantasy (Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind), and so we started talking about which epic fantasies we like and which ones we don’t. I made fun of one of my friends for like the Sword of Truth Series, she returned by saying that the Wheel of Time was unreadable. We joked and had fun with the discussion. I didn’t find her any less “geeky” because she isn’t a fan of Jordan. People are allowed to have personal tastes within a sub-culture, be it geek or otherwise.

    Whoops, I’m ranting.

    Anyhoo! Hi, my name’s April and I am a full-fledged Geek, no matter if a buzzfeed quiz tells me otherwise. And whether or not you think The Sword of Truth is a good series, I’ll never call your geek status into question. This I pledge!

  2. Steve Hall says:

    I refuse to accept the premise that there are degrees of geekness: You either self-identify as a geek, or you don’t.

    I’ve watched maybe half a season of Doctor Who, and I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoy all the references, memes, etc. devoted to DW. But, to put it very simply, I don’t have the time to watch all the episodes from all the seasons. Does that make me less of a geek? (I know, a lot of people will be screaming, “OH HELL YES IT DOES!”)

    Oh, and? I’m a nerd, too.

  3. Babylon 5. I’ll bet they left that out entirely. I’ve noticed that if it ever does turn up on a quiz, it counts against you, because if you watched that, you were the wrong kind of geek. And Xena, and Hercules, and Logan’s Run, and Quiet Earth, and …

    Yeah. I could type for hours. :)

    Oh, and Scooby Doo, and Land of the Lost. Animaniacs! Tiny Toons! Ren & Stimpy! ad nauseam…

  4. Martin Scheckland says:

    It’s a geek quiz that uses the Big Bang Theory for its baseline definition of geekdom. Which makes it limited, narrow, and ultimately useless as anything but a time-waster. To assign any value beyond that is to take it way too seriously, and I’m too much of a comedy geek to sweat it.

    I’m a film geek, horror geek, fantasy sports geek (sarcastic bonus geek points that I combined sports and geekdom correctly), recovering comics geek, and comedy geek. I play WoW, tabletop games, and rpgs. I took home the Stanley Cup in NHL 96. Music…SF…cooking shows…travel shows…so on and so forth.

    I’m a geek, and I didn’t need to take a quiz to know that. And if I want a number, I’ll take 13. Lucky number, y’know.

  5. What chapped my ass about the quiz was that it was entirely focused on pop culture. There are other types of geeks!

    I’ve been an amateur astronomer since I was ten years old. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years on telescopes and equipment in order to see further into the universe. I even spent $500 on a telescope that can only be used to look at one thing (the sun). I’ve spent countless volunteer hours doing outreach, using my scopes to show people of all ages the night sky. I even volunteered my time to design a space science exhibit for a natural history museum in Arizona. I write articles for websites and science magazines. I am overflowing with trivia on astronomy, space exploration and NASA history. I have driven a thousand miles to see a solar eclipse.

    But I don’t play “Magic: The Gathering,” so I’m clearly not a “true” geek. Yeah, eff you too, Buzzfeed.

    PS: Look for my article “The Case For Structured Observing” in the July issue of Sky & Telescope, hitting newsstands in early June. /shamelessplug

  6. falconesse says:

    I will absolutely be on the lookout for that article, thank you!

    Related, how did they not have shout-outs to COSMOS on that list? The Neil deGrasse Tyson OR the original, OR any of Carl Sagan’s books? No mention of Curiosity or Spirit and Opportunity? Bobak Ferdowsi was on an episode of TableTop ffs.

    Gary, B5 was on there, though I note that it’s in a list of “Have you watched” series but not “have you watched ALL of…” As was Farscape, which I understand could probably have a set of questions all its own.

  7. MC Alcock says:

    And as a comic nerd, I must say that list was particularly uninspired. Totally fine if you like those books, but the DC titles at least look like they’re just cribbed off of DC’s marketing materials. “So you just saw Dark Knight? Now read these.” Personally, I actively dislike most of the titles they chose to list, though I’ve read many of them. Does that disqualify me as a geek, nerd police? I’ll let my Question and Batwoman tattoos do the talking.

    Also, everything that’s wrong here–the presumption of purity testing, the spotty selection in all categories, the oversights, the elitism…*sigh*

  8. Linedan says:

    38 out of 300. Guess I’m just a muggle. Or just not a Buzzfeed Seal of Approval geek, which suits me just fine.

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