A stint at demystifying GEEK


The early 90’s saw the birth of internet & computer-related things in general. Though, technically speaking, computers existed even before 90s., they became more sane with the advent of internet. Internet opened the doors to many new applications, lingo, fashion, styles, etc. Of course today’s wonderland would completely confuse all the Alices of 90s, for so much has changed during these 2 decades.

Internet also bought a host of new terms or lingo – download, upload, software, data, geek, floppy, disk, etc etc … I sometimes ponder at the etymology of these words. For instance, take DATA. Now, a close resemble of this would be an already prevalent word we know of – INFORMATION. Then WHO actually felt a need to have a NEW word for this ?? Its not that all the words were a result of some creative thinking belonging to the computer world. Many of the words were borrowed from mother English like instruction pipelining, paging, etc… even Internet for that matter had its roots in English.

Another term more slang in its nature is GEEK. Its often used to refer to any person having superior computer/technical skills. Just out of interest, I wanted to find the etymology of this term. And to my strange surprise here is what I discovered. GEEK actually refers to a circus character who is obsessed with one particular activity. Wikipedia more formally describes geek as –

” the term referred to a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken, bat, snake or bugs ”

After having learned this definition, I wonder what lead to the this strange usage of GEEK for computer professionals ?? The only part i can concur with is the “..obsessed with one particular activity” part of the definition. What does circus has to do with this ??? Here again the computer world could have settled for a more simple terminology like dedicated computer professional. But GEEK ?? completely OUT OF CONTEXT if i may say so…

GEEK has also undergone metamorphosis. It now also includes the ‘looks’ aspect. The GEEK is supposed to have a BLACK-rimmed glasses-thick enough to be distinctly visible. He/she SHOULD compulsorily wear a tee (with senseless sentences), torn jeans (with ballpoint pen art work), have Zakeer Hussain like hairstyle, fully grown beard (or may i call as unshaved)….

Also good pair of shoes is a strict NO NO… she/he should be seen ONLY in floaters / bamboo chappals …. whoaaa so much to be called as a GEEK.

This underlines my conclusion that we perceive a lot by appearance. A person with a given profession MUST have a given dressing style, looks. Many times uncalled for.

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