Contraxioms and the Life of an IT Worker

As we finally got our semester moving, we dove into the details of what makes geeks different from the rest of the world. The way geeks think, work, and philosophy builds the content of the character. Unfortunately, these different ways of life tend to conflict with the “non-geek” world. If we take the time to learn about these differences and figure out why they exist, then we will be able to understand our fellow coworkers on a deeper level. Sometimes, we may even realize we have a little geek within ourselves as well (I’m definitely starting to realize that).


In order to identify these differences, we created a new word: Contraxiom. This word comes from the combination of the two words, “contra” and “axiom”.  The word “axiom” is known as a mathematical term for something that is universally regarded as being true, such as a theorem or property. If we combine that word with “contra”, the Latin word meaning “against”, then we come up with a word that means “something that is universally regarded as conflicting”. In the world of Geeks vs. Non-Geeks, we encounter seven common contraxioms: work, future, know, language,  good and evil, and desire.

The Language of the Geeks

As an avid student worker in the Greenville College IT Department, I have started my career in the technical world earlier than most people. Before my induction into the IT Clan, I was a mild-mannered student-athlete whose mind was ignorant of a deeper knowledge in regards to technology. Now that I have spent a half of a year in the cave of the IT Help Desk, I feel as if the things I have learned are starting to take a toll on me.

The Geek Language is not a series of numbers and symbols. It’s actually a lot more simple than that. Not everyone may understand the Geek Speak. However, it pertains to more than just the IT world. Whether it’s technology, comics, TV shows, or even sports; all fandoms have their own “language” that they speak. If you have ever experienced your friends talking about something and felt as if you were out of the loop, that’s essentially the same thing. People fear what they do not understand. Unfortunately, this is often the source of conflict between Geeks and their opposites.

I’ve Become One of Them

Working with people is one of the biggest tasks that we have at the IT Help Desk. It’s a little ironic that IT is mostly about customer service, considering most of us are socially awkward. However, this situation poses as one of the best examples for the language contraxiom. For instance, there are two types of people that come to us for help: people who know what they’re doing, and people who don’t know what they’re doing. These two type of people can also be classified as people who understand the Geek Speak and people who do not. In order to effectively solve the task that is presented to us, we treat each of these people differently.

Say an inexperienced requester approaches the IT Desk with an issue with their computer. As soon as they open their device, there is a good chance that we see the solution to the issue off the bat. However, we cannot just fix it for them. We also must inform them on the issue so that it can be prevented in the future. The problem with this is that the inexperienced requester may not be able to understand the issue as we do. In order to break this barrier, we have to “dumb down” the explanation so that someone without the knowledge of all the technical terms may understand it. This process represents the contraxiom of Language at work. Since there is a gap in the equality of knowledge between the two parties, a bridge must be made in order to connect and communicate effectively.

The real danger comes when someone with technological experience comes to the desk. Now, just because someone knows a few things about computers does not mean they are a technical person. In fact, if they were a technical person, there is a good chance they would not be at the desk in the first place. Because of the difference in thought process, conflict often arises between the two parties. This occurrence is what brings fear to the heart of the IT student worker.

Think About How You Think

In regards to helping people, technical people such as myself tend to put themselves through a process. As an example, here is the thought process I go through every time a requester comes down to the desk:

Peter's Thought Process - Page 1

Understanding the way someone thinks reveals many things about who that person is. As for me, you can see that most of my thinking revolves around three things: my conscience, my intuition, and my emotional state. Though all these things have an effect, not all have equal influence. For instance, in a situation where I am trying to fix someone’s computer, I am drawing mostly from my intuition. However, if that person ends up being a jerk, I could end up letting my emotional state get the best of me. In the event of this occurrence, my conscience often comes into play to prevent me from saying anything I will regret.

When breaking down the parts that make up a human being’s personality, it is easy to say that we are not all that different. Contraxioms, such as the language contraxiom, help us get to know a certain kind of person and break down those barriers that come between them and the rest of the world. Through the knowledge of others, we can all become better leaders and connect with new people every day.

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