We’re a unique generation, us Generation Y-ers. We’ve always been told we could accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. We could become anything. Most importantly, that we were special. Now, it’s a nice thought, but… well, since has “special” been a good thing? Whatever happened to wanting to be perfectly ordinary? Have people finally discovered that “ordinary” is not only overrated, but it’s impossible to achieve?
But returning to this problematization of being “special.” Never mind the fact that the last term I heard special, it was being used in lieu of the equally politically incorrect “retarded” but does nobody else see the problem in telling everyone they’re special? Well, if you don’t get it yet, lemme break it down for you. If everyone is special, then by definition “special” becomes the standard aka ordinary, which is the opposite of special. But it’s not even about the theoretical implications of the language we use.
The fact of the matter is, our country or perhaps our generation, is in the midst of a bizarre cultural shift. Remember that kinda abstract prediction I made a few sentences earlier about special becoming ordinary? That’s exactly what we’re experiencing. One could argue that we’ve been experiencing it for years, as evidenced by the rise in anti-social novelty shirts from Hot Topic in the late 90s and early 2000s, but what is unquestionable is that this is a uniquely Generation Y invention. Certainly there are some older generations that have experienced the popularization of geek culture, but never to such a degree as what we’re seeing now.
But what happened to the movement?
This is a cultural shift that, I don’t want to call effortless, but had no real identifiable struggle. At one point there was a stigmatization of being a “geek.” Now, when I go for a run with my Boba Fett headphones on, I get a few compliments daily and even more bizarre, I’ve actually been hit on while wearing them. If somebody can find a way to sexualize Boba Fett, you know that things have changed. But I still can’t figure out how.
Was the geek pride movement a silent revolution? That’s what it would seem, but there’s another possibility that few people account for in their studies of geek culture. As I said before, Generation Y isn’t unique to the geek phenomenon. There have always been geeks that came before us. That’s right folks, we’re standing on the shoulders of geek giants. So what do I think is different?
Well, take a look at the way our corporate society works. We reward the innovators, those who think outside the box. How do we reward them? Well, with money obviously, but with money comes influence. It seems like a basic equation and it really is, but that shouldn’t diminish its importance. The innovators and entrepreneurs of today were the geeks of yesteryear. Through their influence, they now have the power they so sorely lacked in their own youth. More importantly, they have the ability to shape today’s youth. I don’t mean that in an indoctrinating “drink the kool aid” kind of way. I just mean that they have the power to define the new norm and by the pervasiveness of geek culture in mainstream media (evidenced in shows like The Big Bang Theory) it becomes a part of our pop culture consciousness and therefore, acceptable.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the process because, it is indeed, a very involved one. It is literally something that has been years in the making. However, it’s interesting to me that something that used to be so marginalized has managed to assert itself into the mainstream with little to no recognizable resistance.