Self-Labeling

Geeks spend a lot of time playing fantasy games, being online, or playing online fantasy games. As a result, they often have a lot of experience in creating alternate personas for themselves. Like rappers, wrestlers, and drag queens, geeks enjoy creating their own nicknames. If a geek tells you “My name is Jim but everyone calls me Darknyte” then you can be sure it was Jim’s idea to call himself “Darknyte” first, and a lot of work went into getting others to do it.

It’s not just nicknames that geeks enjoy inventing for themselves, it’s entire personas. The most common labels they enjoy putting on themselves are “evil” and “insane”. Geeks absolutely adore believing that other people (especially non-geeks) perceive them as weird and possibly dangerous. Go to any gathering of geeks and you won’t be able to swing a womp rat without hitting three or four black t-shirts declaring their wearers to be mentally disturbed dark forces. You’ll also rack up a few shirts that announce the sexual perversity of their owner. Anyone writing fiction is advised to “show, don’t tell”; that advice is null and void if you’re talking about a geek.

"Psycho42" models his "Evil Mastermind" shirt.

"Psycho42" models his "Evil Mastermind" shirt.

These two elements can be combined, as well. There is no small number of geeks who feel that they share enough badass qualities with Wolverine to also be called Logan after him. Or who swear that they got the nickname “Vash the Stampede” because they are “just like” the lead character from the anime Trigun. On internet forums that allow “handles” you’ll see plenty of users named for Gandalf, James T. Kirk, Doctor Who, and Neo who all share the same characteristic of having none of the qualities those characters are known for, but believing that they do. It’s always amusing when two of these characters meet on the same forum, each insisting that they should be the One True Lord Vader since it’s what “everyone” knows them as.

But names and identities aren’t the only thing that geeks enjoy deciding for themselves. As we’ve seen, they love taking online personality tests and religion tests and so forth and finding new labels for themselves. If they have any kind of claims to a religion you can certainly bet that a good ninety percent of it is just calling themselves that religion.

Where they really shine, though is in psychological and medical diagnoses. Geeks who’ve never read a word of Freud will eagerly tell you how orally fixated they are (largely because they think this also makes them sound sexually promiscuous). ADD, OCD, and Asperger’s are cheerfully self-diagnosed daily by geeks. The vaguer the disease or syndrome is, the more likely that geeks will be more than happy to tell you they have it.

All of this self-imposed labeling is supported by the geek’s geek friends who will call them “Darknyte”, who will marvel at how utterly psychotic the geek is, and who will offer sympathy towards the ailment du jour. Part of this is in exchange for similar considerations for their own labels, but also because it’s simply part of the constant role-playing/virtual reality that geeks inhabit.

Having a personality is much harder than inventing one, so geeks LOVE self-labeling!

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6 Responses

  1. I found your blog through Mike Sterling’s blog. As a recovering geek (still living in Dad’s basement) I love it!

    Thanks

    Jim

  2. [...] love this world because it allows them to create their dream personality from scratch. For them, on the Internet nobody knows you’re NOT a black-belt hard-drinking [...]

  3. Even worse than geeks who self-diagnose as having one or more syndromes or disorders are those who invoke such self-diagnoses as justification for acting like a self-absorbed, humourless asshole (because they allegedly have Aspberger’s) or for being a grammar/spelling Nazi or pedantic, point-by-point argument dissector (because they allegedly have OCD).

  4. ^ I also like to add that now nobody will ever take those disorders seriously thanks to these people.

  5. I must agree with The Dude, and in fact expand upon his point. Geeks seem to think that the possession of these unfortunate mental conditions somehow excuses their poor behaviour and attitude. Not every geek is a high-functioning austic, not every denizen of tvtropes has Aspergers, but you’d never know it based on what they tell you. Now, alas, I automatically discount any such self-diagnosis. Psychiatric assessment or it didn’t happen!

  6. I regularly introduce myself as Duckie, and point out that whilst I am talking to “voices”, it is actually faked MPD. Mostly for the curious/weird looks I get in public when I’m trying to decide what I want to do, and all these “personalities” want to do other things…

    And I got sent here by my brother when we were chatting about how we’ve been labeling ourselves as “weird and insane” since… schoolyard bullying, I’d wager.

    Buuut, we really are just 100% sane, normal and well-adjusted. ^_^

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