Friday, December 10, 2010
There is something wonderful happening in our society right now, and it's the celebration of geekery. I think it's a backlash against the vapid ridiculousness of so much of our culture: quasi-celebrities who are famous for being famous, politicians who act as though intelligence is something to be ashamed of, and news outlets that think we're too stupid to form our own opinions.
Despite those things, or because of them, there is a movement towards being okay with differences. When bullying lead to too many tragic suicides of young people, the Internet allowed for an immediate, visceral response: the It Gets Better Project. When a seven-year-old girl named Katie was taunted at school for carrying a Star Wars water bottle (supposedly for "boys only"), her mom's blog post about it inspired thousands of geek girls of all ages to rally around Katie. They told her that it is not just okay to love Star Wars, it's awesome. They told her that she is not alone, and that she doesn't have to conform to be fabulous.
(Many also pointed out the Urban Dictionary definition of geek: the people you pick on in high school and end up working for as an adult. No one has helped the cause of geeks everywhere like Bill Gates. Not that I'm looking for any of my kids to be the next Bill Gates, but it's kind of nice to see Aspergerish geeks ruling parts of the world.)
The hubbub caused by the geeks over the story of Katie ended up getting more families at Katie's school talking about bullying. Parents talked to their kids, and the school stepped up its anti-bullying program. Today, December 10, will be Proud to Be Me Day at Katie's school, and all over the country, people will be geeking out in their Star Wars gear to support geek pride. There's even a Facebook event for it, with 27,000 people RSVP-ing their plans to "Support Geek Pride for Katie."
All this is good news. Our kids are told, in small ways and large, that conformity is the road to popularity and success. I don't want my kids to conform, I want them to be better than middle-of-the-road. However, I know that's a hard row to hoe. Hopefully, this movement toward greater acceptance means their seventh-grade experience won't suck as hard as mine did.
Last night we had our Winter Program at school, and part of it was that the entire first grade sang a song called "Rockin' Santa." The Peanut Butter Kid rocked it out, hard. While the rest of the kids were sort of slowly shuffling back and forth, she had all the girls around her doing the twist, pigtails a-flappin'. It was pure awesomeness.
Afterwards, parents came up to us in the hall and asked me, "Is that your daughter? She is so awesome." And I was all, "I know, isn't she? Thanks for noticing!"
You can't stand out without standing out.