How to speak to Geeks #1

Sometimes newcomers – I was one of these – at our Medieval Martial Arts club want to riff off the incongruity of it all: “OMG! I’m surrounded by crazy people with swords! LOL!

"OMG! I'm surrounded by crazy people with swords! LOL!"

“OMG! I’m surrounded by crazy people with swords! LOL!”

Oddly it’s a line of humor we’ve heard before.

Similarly, I’ll wager wargamers  yawn at yet another gag about “playing with toy soldiers“, and Medieval re-enactors barely notice “men in tights” jokes.

It’s no matter.

The outsiders quickly become insiders, the sword roots itself in your hand, the tabletop becomes home, and the Medieval costume turns out to be surprisingly practical and fitting.  Soon the jokes are about “the wrong helmet”, rather than wearing (or modelling) a historical helmet at all.

We geeks extend this lesson when encountering other geek sub cultures. Thus, a Historical European Martial Artist (who fights with steel and modern protective kit) will still affect at least a polite interest in the doings of a Live Action Role Player (who uses rubber swords and pretends to be an elvish vampire at the weekend), and both will refrain from being mean about a third friend’s taste in Heavy Metal.

Partly, it’s because we recognize the inherent worth of absorbing hobbies.

Partly it’s because we have a tacit agreement to not call each other “sad”.

Mostly, however, it’s because yelling “OMG Thirty sad blokes playing at knights LOLZ” is less interesting to us than, “Oh look a Wars of the Roses retinue, circa 1460, with a mixture of Italian and German-style armor, and a variety of weapons, some of which I know how to use (the rest I would love to train with) as portrayed by a medium-sized reenactment group who no doubt drink beer together as well and have a lot of fun… didn’t they do the Siege of Rhodes last year my god I wish I had been there to see that“.

Thus:

If you somehow encounter geeks in their natural environment, it’s worth considering whether your contribution to the conversation is an interesting one. It may well be that “sad” is context dependent.

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Posted in How to speak to geeks, Modern Culture, Other People Are Real
One comment on “How to speak to Geeks #1
  1. Douglas says:

    I was leading some Bushcraft sessions at a primary school the other day.
    At one point I had to cut something, so I got out my knife and cut it. I was surprised by the chorus of shocked voices saying “You’ve got a knife!”
    Talking to colleagues, this is not an unusual experience.

    Having a knife seems to be an Unusual Thing these days.

    Then my colleagues and I got into a real geek discussion about knives, and which compromises you make for a general purpose bushcraft knife (we have yet to find a knife that will be good at both slicing food and working wood, the former tending to be finer than the latter).

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