And they are not shy about it.
The blond I live with went with me to Best Buy to check out a new TV. Ours is twenty years old and the converter box went bad. So there we are in front of a wall of flat screen TV’s with our mouths agape and this salesperson approaches. A real geek! A true blue member of the squad, complete with the thing in his ear so he can be in instant contact with virtually anyone. I thought, Wow! This guy probably knows everything. Only, he totally fails to make connection with us. We would have bought a TV. Right then. Right there. But all he saw was a technology challenged grandma and grandpa who were going to ask a bunch of stupid questions. Technology is the only important thing in his world; the standard by which he judges all things. And clearly, we were below standard. I think it was when I asked the difference between LCD and LED and he rolled his eyes that I decided we weren’t going to buy. But what really put me off was when I asked why this LED TV cost more than that one. “It just has more bells and whistles.” Apparently he didn’t think we could comprehend those bells and whistles and so there was no need to explain them. Besides, there was a young geeky looking couple in the next aisle that would be a quick sale. So why don’t we just think about it and he’ll be back. I don’t know when he meant to be back. It certainly wasn’t going to be this week. So there we stood, blinking at each other, with $700 in our hand.
What amuses me most about geeks like this is they seem to believe they are in control. That the world really does revolve around them and what they can do. They have an unabashed faith that the satellites will never fall from the sky. That their blue tooth will not fall out of their head and smolder piteously on the ground. What will it be like when the only value in their PC is the metal with which they can barter? Where will they find shelter when no one provides it for them? How will they cope with the person standing before them when they are unable to text someone miles away to find out what to do? Contrarily, I have no need for the world-wide-web. Everything I need is right here. On that day, when the world as we know it comes crumbling down, there will be no benefit having fourteen hundred “friends” I’ve never met. Because none of them will be around while I’m tending the garden - preparing for the coming winter. (Which may be very, very long.)
But even if the unthinkable end is not eminent, there is little advantage being geek. Technology provides us with some nice tools, no doubt. I happen to be writing this using one of “their” laptops. But you know what? I can also write with a pencil and paper (a very old technology). I can even do it in cursive. Legibly. I can do math in my head, too. I learned to do that before the hand held calculator was even invented. I can also fix the dripping faucet in the kitchen. (The blond I live with just wants to know when.) I can build a chair and change the oil in my car. In short, I can do everything necessary without the aid of any electronic device. Believe it or not, I don’t even need a clock to tell me when it’s time for bed. I can cook food without a microwave on the most primitive forms of fire. I can even build the fire.
I think this conflict I feel with geeks has to do with knowledge and its acquisition. There has always been a tendency for those with a little knowledge to use it to beat down those with less. Those with true knowledge or extensive knowledge understand how they got it and that anyone can. But for the simple, it’s not hard to find someone to whom to say, “I’m smart, and you’re not”. The very statement proves you’re not all that smart either – only by just a little bit. And only in certain matters.
I remember someone describing their love of tennis. They were very good at it and loved the game. Then he married and his wife wanted to learn to play. He couldn’t stand it. It took all the fun out of the game for him because she didn’t have the fundamental skills. But he didn’t divorce her. He sent her to a tennis club and had a pro give her lessons. I think that’s why the highly intelligent don’t want me hanging around. I don’t know the fundamentals. I can’t keep up. But they don’t think me worthless. They just want me to get some lessons. And that’s where the geek salesperson was. I just wasn’t any fun. If he had been on commission he would have been motivated to be an educator; to give me a lesson. But he wasn’t and he didn’t. And I still don’t have a new TV. I do have a new converter box though, and it only cost me $60.