If you have read any of the Geekstalker posts or follow us on Twitter, then you will probably be aware of the Geekstalker community. In short we are a collective of geek related or interested podcast, blogs and individuals. Our interaction spans beyond just the monthly Geekstalker articles posted on this blog into regular communications (mainly via Twitter), and has spawned some great cross-overs (@wehaveahulkpod’s Star Wars day quiz, the recent Game of Throne Quiz on our latest podcast, and @Nerdschatting 2 year anniversary question episode, to name but a few). It is fair to say we have become an actual community and, I hope I’m not crossing a bridge too far to say, virtual friends. When Sammi and Luke from the Jack and the Geekstalk team got engaged, they announced it to that group and received heartfelt congratulations. We’ve also shared news of new jobs, holidays, illnesses and general life, in amongst the general geek chat, as much as you would with other long-distance friends. Recently one of the Geekstalkers, @1GeekyNerd, told us about a young lady she knows who is being bullied partly about her own geeky interests and wondered whether some of us might want to write or share something that might help her and others through their situation.
I can’t say that I’ve been bullied due to my geek interests or nerdism in the same way as Ben (@ben_nerdchat) from Nerdschatting (be sure to read his excellent piece about his experiences), I was bullied at school although I wouldn’t suggest it was as severe as many will have experienced, it’s fair to say I’m not that trusting of people I don’t know well and keep my circle small. Instead of sharing my story of bullying, I thought instead I’d share why being a geek is so awesome and hopefully offer a bit of hope.
The Geekstalkers have got your back. I’m fairly confident that I’m speaking for all the Geekstalker community when I say, if you aren’t being offensive or deliberately seeking to upset other people, then you are welcome. To contradict Mean Girls- you can sit with us.
I have two favourite things about being a geek. One- Harry Potter, and Two- the community I’ve found a place in. Sammi often refers to our virtual network as a tribe, and that is how it feels. We ridicule each other (in the nicest of ways), we share opinions, we disagree, we debate, we share news, we celebrate and we geek out. I’m not suggesting that Geekstalkers are the only tribe either, there is a vast array of individuals and groups all interacting based around their shared or related interests, and it’s mostly in good nature. It doesn’t matter if we don’t all like the same things – our interests are cast far and wide, what matters is our passion for the things we love and a space in which we can share and discuss them. There is a commonality and understanding of finding voices that make us stronger together, because through the shared interests has developed a genuine community with care afforded to all members. As an example; after the Manchester bombing in the UK back in May this year, there were very quickly messages to check that those of the group in that area were ok. When @1GeekyNerd asked for help to try and uplift someone she knows who is experiencing a horrible time, there was an immediate response.
Please don’t abandon your interests because someone else tries to downplay them. It says for more about them than you. Being a geek is awesome, partly because it encompasses such a wide range of interests and people, and partly because it offers an outlet to indulge something that matters to me or you. Harry Potter for example, is more than just a series of books to me – they are important stories of love, strength, courage, optimism, determination, loss and friendship. When I’m struggling to find those things, I can find them there. If you love something, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else, then why should bullies be allowed to take that from you? Take strength from those things, and also seek it out in the safe spaces you can.
Last because I am a Mum, I could not finish this post without a couple of very parent like notes;
- If seeking out geek communities online, please take account of online safety measures, particularly if you are a younger person. I’m by no way suggesting that online geek communities are dangerous, far from it, but basic online safety is important.
- If you are being bullied, report it. I know sometimes that doesn’t make the situation magically better, but also make use of support resources available, in particular those online. I haven’t listed them as they are different in different parts of the world, but they are there. This applies to children and parents alike.
- Talk to someone trusted. Talk to a parent, relative or friend, the support of those around you should not be underestimated – it’s almost like a superpower! Please do not suffer alone.
Bullying sucks. But remember this, that means that the bullies suck. I don’t advocate divisiveness, but being a bully is no aspiration and bullies are not welcome in the Geekstalker community. You are though. Always.