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Why you should never listen to geeks, and in fact should despise them

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#1 Udolpho

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 02:27 PM

Of all the obnoxious traits of geeks, one of the worst is their extremely high and misplaced self-esteem.  Geeks tend to be very impressed with themselves and with their accomplishments, which are usually pretty ordinary, and as a group have developed a fantastical idea of the qualities they project to others.  To illustrate, read this passage from the beginning of the Jargon Dictionary, which is essentially an encomium to geek values:

Quote

Because hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define themselves partly by rejection of ‘normal' values and working habits, it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional culture less than 50 years old.

Incompetent grooming and wearing the same clothes through one's teens, 20s, and 30s do not constitute traditions.  Neither does snickering at a shared mantra of pop culture references and catchphrases.  Neither does espousing various clueless political philosophies all of which depend heavily on the never going outside.  Neither does answering questions in the least helpful manner possible or assuming the stubbornness of an eight-year-old whenever their preferred method of doing something is rejected.  Neither does watching Star Trek and Japanese cartoons.

Whereas the introduction from which I quoted asserts that geeks are inventive in their use of language, my experience has been that the best you can expect from them is slavish adherence to partially absorbed rules.  In the worst cases they exhibit outright antipathy for expressive language and react with stock phrases (evidently to protect themselves).  Creativity is out of the question, and what you most often get is a retarded patois of computer references which bespeak not cleverness but a very confined lifestyle.  For the geek, language is a finite array of words and phrases lifted from lowbrow entertainment and repeated, parrot-like, with the same primitive design as that of avian chirps and squawks.  Many of the geek's attempts at communication seem merely to serve the purpose of announcing his physical proximity, or are otherwise unanswerable.

So the egoism of the above quote is unbecoming--first, the central claim is untrue, and second, even if it were true it is crass to indulge in self-praise based on an idealized group affiliation that is basically involuntary (no one else wants to hang around him).

Creativity with language is actually the least of the geek's farcical self-delusions.  Tolerance, non-conformity, fairness, even (amazingly) worldliness are very much senses that the geek has about himself but which no one outside his circle would detect.  During his evolution from insecure twerp to advanced know-it-all the geek acquires a self-regard that is incredible.  He will naturally assume that whatever skills he has are indications of genius or heroic mental endurance (or both), but that skills exhibited by members of other professions are easily learned rote tasks.

In this spirit geeks sometimes make a show of embracing a pastime unrelated to computers, such as watching cartoons.  When they try to go beyond passive consumption they either pick something completely ridiculous or dither around the edges of a real hobby--enough to make incorrect but superficially arguable claims on the various message boards that are their preferred mode of communication.  If you observe him closely, you will find that a geek approaches non-computer avocations with the certainty that he can master any subject with a dilettante's effort.  Expressing this attitude seems to be the whole point of the rare excursion into non-computerized activity.  Once his shallow sense of mastery is satisfied he ceases to progress because really hard work bores him.

It is the total lack of humility that stands out in all this.  The geek claims to reject "normal" values as if he has some basis for doing so--as if he has written enduring pieces of music or literature, as if he has solved difficult engineering problems with only a pen and paper, as if he has explicated some philosophical paradox or riddle.  In fact the geek has done none of these things--most often he's merely written a software program that does exactly what some other software program does.  He doesn't even solve new problems, rather he fussily re-solves old ones to no effect (the motivation is usually some childish nerd squabble).

Even the definition of his culture as "intentional" betrays the geek's lack of self-awareness.  His culture is merely an outgrowth of social defects, immaturity, and distraction, with an additional influence provided by the temporary need for intellectual grunt labor (nearly all computer programming is grunt work, with the greatest exertion usually devoted to understanding another geek's obscure reasoning).

The biggest reason why you should avoid and denigrate geeks is that their only solution to any problem is to replicate geek traits throughout it.  The cliche about the hammer and nail applies even moreso to the geek and his truncated mental development.  Because he understands nothing beyond the geek perspective, he is incapable of adapting outside the peculiar circumstances of late Western civilization that support him.  He tends to support ideas which are really applicable nowhere but in the computerverse and which even there fail spectacularly when the computerverse comes into contact with reality.

A few futurists have warned that nanotechnology could eventually lead to all existence being replaced with "grey goo", as nanotech organisms digest everything into lifeless waste product.  What I am describing, and which is actually happening, is a kind of geek goo:  a numbing, cultureless void in which geek code ceaselessly processes all human thought into more lines of geek code.

#2 BB: AN VILE TWEET

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 11:35 AM

Quote

If you observe him closely, you will find that a geek approaches non-computer avocations with the certainty that he can master any subject with a dilettante's effort.  Expressing this attitude seems to be the whole point of the rare excursion into non-computerized activity.  Once his shallow sense of mastery is satisfied he ceases to progress because really hard work bores him.

This is a worryingly common attitude among millennials in general. And, like most narcissistic attitudes, it is a reaction to deep feelings of inadequacy and lack of control. There have always been people who were all hat, no cattle, but these days, they seem to be the majority in many circles.

Personally, I blame education. Industrialized nations are trying to "get more people into college", which is practice means warehousing more people in bird and grievance majors until they graduate with a useless credential, and this is just what we'd expect following Turchin (who calls it "elite overproduction"). This problem is not specific to America -- I remember reading an account of it in Tunisia and it seems to be widespread throughout semi-developed countries. We even see it on this site, where members are sometimes on the horns of a dilemma: "can't advance socially without a degree" vs. "degrees are largely useless and expensive".

It's highly likely that a typical millennial will have much better credentials than his dad and much less ability to function. Leaving aside personal flaws, I'm talking about generally effectiveness in real-world tasks -- stuff like assembling furniture, operating equipment, or just literally cooking and cleaning. This is demonstrated by the emergence of products like Soylent or services like Washio that literally do your laundry for you. Obviously it's not possible for laundry to be literally too hard to do, but people who aren't habituated to the tedium and time investment required to maintain themselves will find it painful. Unfortunately for most of the people who have it, this aristocratic temperament is a poor match for being stone broke and drowning in non-dischargeable debt.

Despite -- in fact, because of -- their educations, millennials live in an appified world in which the mess of details of which useful real-world skills are made are treated with a haughty disdain. Democratizing access to high-powered consumer electronics like iPhones has not broadened our technically educated class. Instead, it's enabled people who use tech all the time to engage in fundamentally lazy, unchallenging activities like slacktivism, Angry Birds and tumblr. As technology progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to understand it at a fine level of detail -- how many electrical engineers could fix a broken stove without a manual? -- but millennials seem to have completely given up and relate to technologies simply as consumers, not as power users or technical experts.

The idealized nerd self-image from the above quote is of a sort of self-reliant expert. The contrast with nerd reality is telling. Outside of some narrow and trivial specialty, most nerds know less than the average Chad about motors, wiring, finance, business, construction and so forth, and they tell themselves that these fields are trivial because the alternative is admitting that there's something they have not learned and may not even be capable of learning. In extreme cases, nerds roll their own sociological, legal and economic theories without bothering to seriously survey precedent, and while they hew closely to the SCIENCE! party line, they often misunderstand the very things they are trying to champion. (E.g., the strange nerd fixation on Tesla among people who couldn't explain the relative merits of AC and DC).

Millennials are thus a kind of supernerd. In strikingly many cases, they don't know anything about anything, but their absurdly inflated sense of self leads them to build vast castles in the sky on the basis on very little.

#3 BB: AN VILE TWEET

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    it's pronounced "WOMP-year", bigots

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 01:46 PM

Here's an example of useful non-nerd computer work:

Can't you just see a modern nerd handling this? "OK DO WE HAVE ENOUGH QUEER BODIES ON THIS PROJECT? WOW JUST WOW. ANYWAY LET'S BUILD A TWITTERBOT THAT RUNS IN THE CLOUD TO DO THIS, ALL I'LL NEED IS $500/MO FOR BANDWIDTH AND HOSTING". Or he'd make a gigantic website explaining in excruciating detail why his embedded solution used 12-pin instead of 14-pin sockets.

#4 PLEASUREMAN

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 02:00 PM

View PostBB: The High Cost of Not Living, on 22 June 2015 - 01:46 PM, said:

Here's an example of useful non-nerd computer work:

Can't you just see a modern nerd handling this? "OK DO WE HAVE ENOUGH QUEER BODIES ON THIS PROJECT? WOW JUST WOW. ANYWAY LET'S BUILD A TWITTERBOT THAT RUNS IN THE CLOUD TO DO THIS, ALL I'LL NEED IS $500/MO FOR BANDWIDTH AND HOSTING". Or he'd make a gigantic website explaining in excruciating detail why his embedded solution used 12-pin instead of 14-pin sockets.

This applies:


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#5 Saucer Lord

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 10:44 PM

The nerd-bashing posts on Udolpho were among the first I read there - and it was like, OK, someone has thought about the nerd issue along the same lines I do and maybe articulated it far better than I could.

The geek/nerd/goon ghetto is filled with people who spend a lot of time congratulating themselves for being so open-minded and creative, unlike the grotty mundanes and normals who are all consumerist sheeple who'll accept anything put in front of them. (Besides living dull gray lives for not playing with Transformers or reading YA supernatural romance or teen-dystopia novels)

A lot of nerds flatter themselves to be the intellectually curious sorts, or so I hear from them, yet they have a problem with ever venturing out of the nerd zone. Resulting in so many superhero comics, genre movies, and vidyagames that have stories and characters that are only interesting if you've never encountered anything other than superhero comics, genre movies, and vidya. Nerds don't like being challenged too much, or have people suggest that maybe it's time for the man- and woman-children to put away childish things, because they might have to face that they're not as brainy as they like to think they are and maybe a lot of them are the sort brainless pap-consumers as they posit non-nerds to be. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY because OMG AWESOME.

Being a "geek" is no longer even being a pedantic superfan of something, and it's about being a fan of being a geek, being a nerd itself and reinforced by people like Will Wheaton telling them they're Superior People Because You Watch Movies With Iron Men and Thors In Them.
The Tree of Knowledge has been plucked bare, and the War Pigs are gorging on a feast of its fruits. In their ravenous gluttony, they swallow it all and shit out the seeds, sowing a garden of horrors that we -- all of us -- shall reap. No sacred secret is spared; not the forces of nature, not the human mind, not the fundamental stuff of life, nor the building blocks of the universe itself. There is no territory the sinister technologists refuse to explore in their quest for Maximum Pain. Their lust for death is so strong, they've even begun creating a robotic army to extend their grim work through the twilight of our species, and beyond.

Imagine it. Metallic security guards, propelled by deathless power cells, crunching and gliding over a rotting graveyard planet. I can think of no more fitting legacy.

#6 Melanin: The Life-Force

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 06:26 PM

What were nerds before computers and anime?

#7 Vegan Gastronomy

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 03:49 AM

View PostMelanin: The Life-Force, on 23 June 2015 - 06:26 PM, said:

What were nerds before computers and anime?

They played with model trains and ham radio, I am told.

BTW, I've known all sorts of tech, IT, even Silicon Valley people. The people in the OP seem to be these amorphous beings who only exist online. Maybe because they don't go out much?

Edited by Vegan Gastronomy, 24 June 2015 - 03:50 AM.


#8 GhostfaceCracka

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Posted 24 June 2015 - 09:55 AM

View PostVegan Gastronomy, on 24 June 2015 - 03:49 AM, said:

View PostMelanin: The Life-Force, on 23 June 2015 - 06:26 PM, said:

What were nerds before computers and anime?

They played with model trains and ham radio, I am told.

BTW, I've known all sorts of tech, IT, even Silicon Valley people. The people in the OP seem to be these amorphous beings who only exist online. Maybe because they don't go out much?

You won't find many of this type where real skill is required and money riding in the outcome. They're the folks who make up the ranks of the computer janitors in your company's IT department. At least the white ones. Not sure how it is in corporate America but in government we now have a lot of POC AA computer janitors.
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#9 Vincent Dawn

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Posted 08 July 2015 - 04:46 PM

View PostSaucer-Lord of the Illuminati, on 22 June 2015 - 10:44 PM, said:

The geek/nerd/goon ghetto is filled with people who spend a lot of time congratulating themselves for being so open-minded and creative, unlike the grotty mundanes and normals who are all consumerist sheeple who'll accept anything put in front of them. (Besides living dull gray lives for not playing with Transformers or reading YA supernatural romance or teen-dystopia novels)

Reddit's /r/books and /r/writing subs are full of geeks who constantly shit on "literary fiction" and talk about how dull and stupid it is compared to the science fiction/fantasy/horror/pony erotica they read and/or write. They perceive their own philistinism and inability to handle serious themes in literature as a sign of superiority.

This guy's blog post typifies this attitude. He describes his own muddle-headed attempt to right a novel "according to the rules of literary fiction" (no such rules exist) and how his failure to do so means literary fiction is worthless. He also seems to have confused literary fiction (a vague category that just includes all works that strive for actual merit as writing, rather than hack writing) with Realism or Naturalism in fiction. It's 888 all the way, but it's work a chuckle to delve into the mind of a nerd struggling out-of-his-element.
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