Saturday, September 3, 2011

Speak Out With Your Geek Out





AN OPEN LETTER TO ALYSSA BEREZNAK:
I am of the understanding that you recently went out on a date with Jon Finkel, World Champion of the fantasy card game, Magic the Gathering.  You then wrote an article for a web site in which you openly mocked Finkel for the manner in which he currently devotes his time, namely Magic the Gathering tournaments.  While anyone can probably Google that information and find your original text, I won't be providing that link here as the site pays according to the number of clicks and I don't wish to support what you wrote.

I was thinking the other day about how far our society has come in certain respects.  My teen years were miserable, being ridiculed and made fun of for the geeky things that I enjoyed and even beaten for it on a few occasions.  Now, one can openly wear Star Wars t-shirts, buy action figures, and even comic books because they are a) considered chic to a certain degree and b) there's a whole army of people who openly enjoy such things. 

Then I heard about your post.  I am saddened to see that this kind of pointed prejudice and personalized ridicule still exists to the point where someone needs to air it in an open forum.  Really, Ms. Bereznak?  Have you no sense of decency?  I have written inflammatory things before, have had to learn that it was wrong to do so, and chomped and swallowed a hefty amount of crow as a consequence.  You're young, Ms. Bereznak. You may only now be realizing just how dumb your post is.  That's ok.  Like I said, we all make mistakes.  Or perhaps you really are the kind of person you portray yourself as in the post: shallow, snobbish, and less than astute.  In which case I suggest that for future dates, you stick with superficial, hook-up bars.  "Get thee to a frat house."

The world is full of entertainments that I find trite, vapid, and redundant...but I don't have the right to make personal attacks against those who enjoy them.  Call me cynical but I think that the world is a pretty miserable place.  If you are lucky enough to find something that brings you joy, whether that is the NBA, dancing, reality TV, or Magic the Gathering, you should be able to enjoy it openly and without fear of unwarranted attacks.  To support this fundamental right, a wise person named Monica Valentinelli has taken what you said and turned it into a campaign for something positive: Speak Out With Your Geek Out.  Here's more about it:

SPEAK OUT WITH YOUR GEEK OUT

Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek.  Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests.

UPDATE: The Facebook event is public and live! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=190025581068159

Everybody is a geek about something, Ms. Bereznak, it just depends on the subject.  There are car geeks, music geeks, video game geeks...you get the point.  It's time for people to stop feeling ashamed about the things that they enjoy.  The goal of Speak Out With Your Geek Out is to get 1,000 people to participate in openly sharing what makes them an out and proud geek.  I, however, agree with my geek brother Chris over at Dorkland who believes we should be able to get three times that amount.  After all, we are Geek Nation.  And we are legion.

Make no mistake, Ms. Bereznak.  Strange Horizons will respond next week and participate openly and proudly in Speak Out With Your Geek Out but fear not: even though I was once hated by people like you and spent my time being afraid of people like you, there will be no name-calling from me.  
There are far more fun ways of showing how wrong you are.






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