After Hours

Are geeks innately anti-government?

Jay Garmon discusses the position that geeks are naturally distrustful of authority, particularly government.

Jeff over at alert.nerd posits that geeks are naturally distrustful of authority, particularly government. And, as usual, it's our beloved geek media that is to blame:

"Superheroes exist to do the job that the government cannot or will not do.  ... No matter whether it's action, sci-fi or fantasy, the idea that the system doesn't work is at the very foundation of the genre.  Star Wars, our ultimate sacred cow, is a six movie fable about the consequences of bad governance."

So, in your experience, are geeks disproportionately anti-government, anti-authority, or simply anti-voting? I tend to dislike these sorts of sweeping generalizations. I mean, I'd characterize myself as a serious geek — I get paid to do geeky things, after all — and I'm seriously invested in current events and my civic duty. (Yes, I voted today.)

TechRepublic forum readers are famously political and that's an audience of tech geeks, if not sci-fi geeks. (Though, given how much we like sci-fi around here, there's bound to be some overlap.) So who, exactly, is Jeff talking about?

There is a certain subset of geekdom that I would characterize not so much as anti-political or even apolitical but anti-participatory. They not only don't keep up with current events, they don't follow anything outside their narrow niche of geekery — video games, comic books, and/or sci-fi TV and movies. These folks — who are far more rare than mainstream media would care to admit — aren't explicitly removed from politics, they're removed from reality. They're escapists, with little interest in or aptitude towards the conduct of life outside their hobbies.

I see these guys at my comic shop every few visits, but they usually leave quietly or fidget uncomfortably when the conversation shifts — as it almost inevitably does — away from whether Thor could beat up Superman (my vote: no) and towards sports, politics, or whether a giant asteroid is going to smash the Earth in 2036. In most geek gatherings I attend, you're just as likely to get an Obama vs. McCain or Titans vs. Giants debate as you are a Star Wars vs. Star Trek argument. I think that's the real geek norm, but I don't know if most of my fellow geeks would agree.

There's this whole comments area below to offer you're take on things. Please do, unless you're too geeky to participate.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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