Living in a world without computers is not something most of us can comprehend. Cellular technology is so finely ingrained into our everyday lives that it’s unimaginable to think of not having this. Medical equipment that has streamlined surgeries and the detection of life-altering diseases are so widely used today, healthcare would probably come to a halt without the use of technology. We, as inhabitants of this planet, are so dependent on technology, that the very thought of losing these items is unconscionable. Our lifestyles create the demand for more and better technology advancements every day, as does the demand for people who have the vision to manifest the next generation of technology. These technical gurus are also lovingly known as nerds.
Understanding the Misunderstood
Techies are assumed to be nerds or geeks, but that’s a fictitious negative stereotype cooked up by Hollywood in an attempt to sell movies and gain sponsors for television advertising. They don’t necessarily wear pocket protectors in their shirt. Not all are introverts who prefer the company of a motherboard or programming code to the company of co-workers, though being introverted is not a societal deficit… another group stigmatized without warrant. Techies conceptualize and create at the intersection of various strengths like mathematical ability, engineering know-how, mechanical aptitude, and the curiosity of a cat. All are commendable traits. Further, they possess the inquisitive nature necessary to continue exploration for the next, best thing, or at the very least, improve functionality of the current technology.
Why Don’t We “Get” Them?
They help the World to better collaborate, communicate and be productive, but as a group, they often fall under hard times in regards to their reputation. I find it ironic that as a society so dependent on the conceptualizations and creations of these individuals, we unfairly brand them with labels perceived through our own insecurities, perhaps.
As a result, this labeling created a group of people called closet geeks. These people fear being discovered and negatively labeled by the world-at-large, in part because, they are misunderstood. Some may feel they lack strength in numbers and may not want to step out of the shadows of their comfort zone lest to be branded. Others don’t want their creative juices to be commented on only because they “get this stuff” because they are geeks or nerds. Makes me wonder if there is a bit of geek-envy going on. Could there be people who desire the unbridled creativity of the techie brain, but wish to avoid the burden of negative labeling? I guess there are people who will not step up to admit it, but given the on-going demand for what the prodigies of the label have to offer, I will say, yes there are. Really, who doesn’t want to invent or create the next best thing?
People like Steve Jobs helped to assuage some of this stigma, as does the new generation of technological entrepreneurs that are cropping up in startling numbers. Also, the overall need and demand for the next, best technological advancement touching any facet of life whether that be in a business capacity or something that affects us personally has helped some people move past the nerd labeling. But we’re not quite there yet. Societal stereotypes and gaining buy-in to these erroneous perceptions is much easier than expunging these beliefs. As with any group underserved, some techies have risen from the ashes of being stigmatized to stand united and take pride in having their geek on.
Others have serendipitously come upon discoveries in ways that were not intended, but that didn’t keep society from labeling them. Take the microwave oven for example. Its humble beginnings started when someone standing too close to a machine emitting microwaves noticed that his chocolate bar had melted in his pants pocket. Point in case, not all technological advancements came about due to a specific intention to invent. Sometimes techies stumble upon advancements that can be every bit as exciting as intentionally working towards the goal.
So I challenge everyone reading this post to think about the last time you said, “Wouldn’t be great if X, Y and Z could do this?” Or, “I wish we had an X, Y and Z because I could get my work done so much faster.” You’ve said this, haven’t you? Of course you have. News flash… we all have. Does this make us geeks? Well, that’s a self-discovery you’ll need to determine on your own. In the meantime, keep enjoying the fruits of labor from our techie friends, and remember; a world without techies is like a day without sunshine.
Photo courtesy of Neil Coulter.