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  • Adam Walter

Social Acceptance of the Computer Geek

Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Blog Ep 119

As time and technology have evolved, we’ve seen a shift in society’s definition of “cool.” Back in the 80s, being an all-out Marvel fan might get you beat up in the hallway. But today, you could go to a convention elaborately dressed as your favorite superhero and no one would bat an eye. So, what’s changed?

The answer is technology. Just a few decades ago, the tech world was seen as nerdy. When Adam’s late-80s computer was finally able to play 16-bit sound, or when he got a fancy new calculator, he was forced to celebrate alone. Skip waking up at 3 a.m. to use dial-up is almost comical now, knowing our capabilities for instant worldwide communication. At the time, no one cared about that kind of stuff… yet.

That was before it took over the world. Now that technology is so widespread, it’s easy to see why it’s been absorbed into mainstream pop culture. Think about when the iPod first came out. How many people laughed at it? The walkman and CD combo was working just fine, they thought — until they bought one and it changed their life. The ease of use, combined with modern marketing from Apple and unavoidable integration into culture, made the iPod an absolute breakthrough in technology. Same with smartphones. Same with social media.

Our society essentially flipped its interpretation of technology upside down in the span of a decade. It used to be that if you had all the gadgets, you were a geek. Now, if you don’t have the iPhone 11XR, an Amazon Echo, or AirPods — you’re the uncool one. Funny, isn’t it?

The normalization of technology has also influenced a pop culture movement that’s brought niche interests into the spotlight. Superhero movies like Marvel? Crazy fantasies like Game of Thrones? All fully accepted now. This newfound freedom of expression is due in part to technology, because it unites people over Facebook clubs, forum boards, fan pages and more. It’s easier now than ever to find like-minded people with similar interests, no matter how uncommon you think they might be.

Not to mention, society, in general, has become more accepting and diverse in the 21st century. Joining fandoms is celebrated, normalized and encouraged. There’s music, movies and meetups created just for you and your passion. You’re completely free to express yourself and be true to who you are. Are there some people out there who will still give you crap for going to Comic-Con? Yes. But as a whole, many aspects of pop culture that were once deemed “lame” are taking over box offices and convention centers nationwide.

The moral of this story: be true to yourself. From sports, to technology, to theater, to art and beyond, the playing field for all these interests has been leveled. What was once uncool is now common culture. Do what you love, and enjoy doing it!

Adam elaborates on standing strong behind your interests in this Fail of the Week, so be sure to listen to the podcast! When he went into college, his friends found it outrageous that he spent $2,000 on a quality computer. How did he deal with this, and how did he prove them wrong?

Keep tuning in for next week’s podcast. We’re launching a series on how to create better, more natural conversations in business and technology!

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