While I’ve been aware of the rise of geek chic – that it’s now cooler to be Clark Kent than Superman, I hadn’t quite realised the extent to which geekness has gripped younger people. This weekend I got chatting to an earnest type with an architectural quiff, horn-rimmed specs (of course), regulation Hoxton beard and deliberately fogeyish taste in coiture – tweed, etc. He chatted to me in a baritone voice full of self-assurance about his love for books, film, art and “desolate landscapes” (sic).
It then moved on to the obligatory fascination with sci-fi and a religious conviction regarding the merits of craft beers. The latter subject used to be an obsession of CAMRA members spouting their support of real ale over mountainous beer bellies – but no more. The apostles of the pure pint are now fairly slim (for now) and painfully trendy with the ability to drone on for months about the sustainable and environmental upsides of microbreweries. I was just about accepting all this when he added his adherence to Morris dancing – at which point I moved off.
In truth, I quite like geeks. And snarkiness aside – I think it’s good to see hipsters embracing some very worthy causes and traditions though I draw the line at Morris dancing. But the rise of the geek phenomenon is, suffice it to say, an overturning of the post-WWII order in modern culture where geeks were forlorn and despised figures bullied in the school playground and vilified for being hopeless at sports. Digital changed all that of course. Now we have an entire younger generation that is computer-bound, obsessed with gadgets, inundated with comic book related content well into adulthood and happy to proclaim their dorkishness.
How long with the geek triumph last for? Hard to imagine it can disappear in a digital world where sociopathic hackers are sought after by corporates and government and success is driven far more by brains than the brawn that meant something in an industrial, pre-digital age. Now I’m off to buy a Geek T-shirt at Top Shop.