Geeks, Ghouls And Zombies
Something I have always admired about certain people is that as they grow older they embrace and learn from the present and future instead of dwelling in “Oh the good old days” mentality.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, I have started to seek out and learn from what is going on in today’s world--the fads, the trends, the music, movies, games, and more.
Sometimes it gets a bit confusing, especially in the lingo of the times. For example, when I was in school, the last thing I wanted to be called was a Geek, and if you were one of the bright kids you also wanted to be a cool kid and to be called a Geek was not cool. However, in today’s world to be called a Geek is embraced by many of my friends who proudly fly the Geek flag.
This word “Geek” comes from English dialect geek, geck; from Low German geck, fool, freak; from Middle Low German, the two words that flash out to me are the words “fool” and “freak.” I can assure you that none of my friends are fools, though most are by contemporary definition pretty freaky. “Freak” is another word that has passed through a number of definition changes over the years. In historical usage, the word "freak" is used to refer to a person with something strikingly unusual about their appearance. There was a time when “Freak Shows” had things like two-headed DJs and worse. This usage dates from the so-called freak scene of the 1960s and 1970s, and the term “freak scene” was used to describe a slightly post-hippie and pre-punk style of bohemian subculture. In today’s usage many are happy to be considered freaky, perhaps to be thought of as anything other than what is accepted in today’s screwed-up world, as “freaky” simply may mean not part of the mainstream.
For a while in the relatively recent past, “Geek” and “Nerd” were used interchangeably, but the meanings quickly diverged. “Nerd” is a derogatory term for a person who is intellectually knowledgeable or bright but socially inept. A Geek can be a Nerd, but I am not sure a Nerd can be a Geek. Most of my friends are socially ok, that is if you consider walking through a small town dressed up as a Dalek to be socially ok. If you do not know what a Dalek is, ask a Geek, not a Nerd, as Geeks are very knowledgeable about many trends, movies, comics, and so on. My Geek friends can tell me why a Zombie cannot have two heads, but they may not know who Alex Rodriguez is. By the way, I just found out that zombies are actually ghouls, and a ghoul is a (folkloric) monster associated with graveyards and the consumption of human flesh, often classified as the undead. The oldest surviving literature that mentions ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights. The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek, which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore. I love starting the day learning something.
A very good friend explains part of the phenomena of what I will call Geek-dom, which includes those kids who were into the less popular things such as comic books and cult movies, instead of sports, music, and sex. Those Geeks stuck with the things they loved, and today are a nation, The Geek Nation. The recent ComicCon event in San Diego is thought by some to be the biggest convention in the world.
There is so much for us elders to learn from the people we so-called cool kids made fun of many years ago. I am happy to have some of them as friends and will keep absorbing a wealth of new customs, thoughts, and language. Stay tuned.