I want to start off by talking about one of my favorite scenes from The Office. For those of you who are not familiar with The Office, the two main people in the scene are Jim, played by John Krasinski, and Dwight, played by Rainn Wilson. Jim is seen as the “cool guy” in the office and Dwight is seen as the “geek.” The scene starts out with Jim walking into the office dressed like Dwight. Once Jim sits down, he starts to mimic Dwight through his words and actions. Dwight eventually catches on to Jim’s prank and chastises Jim for the prank. This causes Jim, who is still in character as Dwight, to go tell their boss, Michael. This prank stands as one of Jim’s best pranks and one of the most well-known scenes of the show.
You may be wondering what that scene has to do with the archetypes of geeks. Well, do not fear, I will tell you. Dwight is a geek. Not a geek in the sense of someone who works with computers, rather someone who is very analytical and factual. In the clip embedded above, you can hear Dwight tell Jim that millions of families suffer from identity theft. Throughout The Office, Dwight remains factual and relies heavily on logic. When Jim is acting as Dwight, part of his act is spewing out facts. Granted, “bears eat beets” is not actually factual, but it works as part of Jim’s ruse. In most shows, and in real life, there always seems to be someone who teases a character, or person, that is seen as a geek.
The term geek has changed a lot over the years. It used to be a term with a negative connotation but over the years it has changed to a positive one. I think that part of this change is due to the shift in how people see geeks. Since geeks tend to think more rationally and logically, they tend to come off as rude or uninterested. This tendency can turn away a lot of people, but others grow to appreciate it. Once given a chance, geeks prove that they have more to offer than just their technical skills. Geeks used to be seen as men who work with computers, but now women can be considered geeks as well. It used to be uncommon for women to study computer science, work in IT departments, or really do anything with a computer. While female geeks are becoming more popular, Greenville still has a lot of catching up to do. There are currently no female CIS majors, to my knowledge, and only one female IT worker, which is me (Woo! Go IT!). For a while it was only men who worked in the computer science field. Even now, there are very few women that work in tech jobs. I looked at some stats while doing some research for this blog and I found that the numbers for women in tech have gone down. The most recent one I found was from 2013, so it could have changed since then, but I believe the numbers will go back up.
While geeks may remain the butt of TV jokes for some time, the perception of how viewers perceive geeks will continue to change. What was once taken as an offensive term has become quite the compliment. The term “geek” has broadened and become more inclusive as well. A lot of things about geeks have changed over the years but their love for technology has remained constant. That is something that will never change.