The librarians at Platte County High School recently invited me to come talk to some of their students about KC Geeks and how to get involved in geek activities in Kansas City. I was more than happy to oblige.
I was expecting a group of “general population” high school kids, some nerds, many not, so I had prepared a short bit on what it means to be a geek, sort of setting the stage for my definition of the term.
Upon arriving at the school, however, I found out all the kids had signed up to attend the presentation during a free period – all “opt-in” geeks.
I thought about just skipping my original opening, since they likely all knew what it means to live the geek life, but decided to keep it as a way to get us all on the same page, and recognize all “flavors” of geek.
What it means to be a geek
As I explained to the kids, and in a post here, being a geek isn’t only about reading comics, or watching every single Star Trek episode, or knowing how to code a killer app. For me, Simon Pegg summed up what it means to be a geek.
“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”– Simon Pegg
That’s part of the cool thing about being a geek – you don’t have to be any ONE kind of geek – AND you can’t be the WRONG kind of geek, or worry about being “enough” of a geek. You can like Star Trek, but not really be into gaming. You may love horror movies, but not superhero flicks. Or any version thereof. And you don’t have to apologize or feel “less than” if your “flavor” doesn’t match someone else’s.
If you know trivia about something, like that Captain Kirk’s middle name is Tiberious, or that Instagram was founded in 2010, you are likely a geek about that fandom or interest. There are many flavors of geek, and all of them are totally cool in the world of nerds.
If you are passionate about something – a hobby, a job, a charity, a website, a book series – whatever thing that makes you want to share it with others, you can be a geek about.
How to get involved in the KC geek community
Once I had given my little “everyone’s a geek in some way” pep talk, I moved on to list of some ways they could geek out in Kansas City, such as:
- KC geek groups
- Kansas City cons
- Cosplay for Hope
- Kansas City comic and gaming stores
- Mid-Continent Library teen programming (e.g. anime/otaku clubs)
- Makerspaces, e.g. Hammerspace and Johnson County Library
- KC Horror Club
Then I pointed out the various student organizations available at their school, such as Scholar Bowl, an origami club, speech & debate, and robotics. I did have to express my disappointment that their “Pirate Mentors” group was actually a group of school ambassadors, and not people mentoring others in how to be better pirates. (Oh, the “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” festivities I imagined they had!)
Once I finished my prepared talking points, I asked if anyone had any questions. Silence. Crickets. Then one student raised his hand and asked about my fandoms, to which I responded Star Trek, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Dresden, Supernatural, Sherlock, and Firefly (to start).
Another student raised his hand, and gazed at me, obviously taking my measure. “Kirk… or Picard?”
The rest of the session consisted of the students firing questions at me that seemed really more like mini-tests of my geek cred. I wish I had known I needed to study and bone up on my debate skills!
- Kirk or Picard? (both, but I lean toward Kirk)
- Spock or Data? (Data)
- DC or Marvel? (Marvel movies, DC TV, though I love Netflix’s Marvel series)
- Favorite villain (either DC or Marvel)? (Heath Ledger’s Joker)
- Favorite House in Game of Thrones? (Stark)
- Which Harry Potter house am I? (Ravenclaw)
- What’s my favorite sci-fi video game? (uhhh, I don’t have one, but my daughter’s boyfriend loves the Star Wars games)
The hour passed in a blur and then it was over, leaving me a bit breathless from the interrogation, but as always, happy to talk geek with like-minded folk – especially kids who might need a little affirmation that it’s ok to be different.
I’ll talk to you, too!
If you know any local schools or groups looking for a geek speaker, send ’em my way!