This is republished from Chris Christman’s excellent blog over at Geeks!
I recently began a thread in a forum that I frequent about making a Geek Confession. My confession was that I had never seen Alien or Aliens, and I was curious if anyone else out there had anything they thought might somehow hurt their “geek cred” as it were, but wanted to put it out in the open. I was flooded with responses ranging from never having read Harry Potter, to enjoying Spider-Man 3. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one, but it got me to thinking. It made me think about this sort of unspoken Geek Civil War that is going on, and how it may be tearing us apart
Let me explain.
Now, this isn’t going to be a tirade about forums, but just gimme a second. If you talk in forums, or at least browse forums, you have more than likely been involved in some sort of argument. Even if you don’t comment on it directly, you’ve at least followed one. Mac vs PC, Kirk vs Picard, heck even Star Trek vs Star Wars. Now, while arguments are bound to happen, that’s fine, the level it can be taken to on forums is sometimes astounding. People get genuinely upset and p.o.’ed about someone’s opinion. It doesn’t make any sense. And yes, this kind of situation exists everywhere. You see debates about Ford vs Chevy, Republican vs. Democrat, etc.
Here is the problem. The so called “normal people” can argue about that kind of stuff in public and people won’t take a second glance. It’s because they are an accepted part of society. While geeks are becoming a bigger and bigger part of society, at this point we are still looked upon by some people with disdain or, in some cases, fear and confusion. Just look at politicians. They are waging a war against gamers and geeks, when the truth is they just don’t have the full story. But can you blame them? Wander into an average sized forum, and if you look around, chances are there is a big argument going on. Hop on Xbox Live and play Halo 3 for more than 1 match, and someone on your team will get hit with a wall of ethnic slurs and other offensive insults, and from a teenager no less. Now, while these situations don’t represent all of the geek community, it is harmful to us as a whole. Politicians and parents see these examples and they assume that the whole community consists of these types of people.
Now, the thing is, trolls will always exist. As long as you can say what you want on the Internet, there will be trolls. But we have to do something to keep us geeks together. We shouldn’t look down on other geeks just because they haven’t seen a certain movie, or just because they like Picard more than Kirk. We shouldn’t be waging pointless wars over something as ridiculous as Mac vs. PC. In the end, it comes down to a matter of personal preference. No matter what the subject is, there is someone who disagrees with you. And don’t let anyone stop you from liking whatever you want. And we can talk about it and discuss our differences on the subject. If we could just try and do it in a more civilized manner, then maybe video game hating politicians and racist 13-year olds can start to disappear. Because, let’s face it, getting into flame wars on the Internet isn’t just making you look stupid, it’s bringing down the entire geek community with you.