Beavis and Butt-Head are geeks without the smarts. Without any smarts.
They know nothing -- except what they like. Either it's cool or it sucks. (They can be more specific. I didn't know until recently that when he records a commentary on a music video, Mike Judge says each comment in both characters' voices to see who'd say it funnier.) But by God, they're enthusiastic. Until it sucks. And they stay unenthusiastic until boobs, guns or explosions cross their TV screen.
We geeks can be a little too good at that.
Being a geek is so much about enthusiasm. Being aware of the details of what you like and why those details are neat. We can get tunnel-visioned into thinking I think this is neat, so everyone else should think this is neat. I've been guilty of that.
Maybe this other thing is a me-thing, but I've seen enough of my fellow geeks do it to think it's a more general geek thing: being unenthusiastic can make you less likely to accept others' enthusiasm. If I'm not enthusiastic about something, why is anyone else enthusiastic about it? And act ready to argue the point. Tell me I'm wrong. Except that I'm already right.
I remember a time years ago where I enthused about a certain female performer on a certain show a lot of you who are reading this have seen. Not naming the show or the performer; I don't need to in order to show the example+; all I need to say is that I find the performer seriously compelling and also seriously cute. Someone I know online -- an e-quaintence, you could say (I like that term) -- chimed in with (approximate quote) "I've never understood why anyone likes her." Translation: I don't find her compelling in any way. Why does anyone else? Translation of the translation: Mine's the only opinion that's right.
It's close to saying "This is stupid." Or, more simply, "This sucks." It makes the moment into an argument then immediately shuts that argument down. You don't get to be enthusiastic about this, because I'm not. Or, more simply (whoa I'm being reductionist right now), Why would you like this? No, don't answer that.
I only barely ever got into Law & Order. Being, to quote Harlan Ellison, "naturally out of sync with the rest of the universe," I didn't even sort-of-get-it until the end. I tried the show in the mid-'90s. Couldn't get into it. Tried Special Victims Unit its first season out of loyalty to Richard Belzer. Couldn't get into that: it aired Mondays, my longest, most complicated and deadline-filled days at the newspaper where I worked at the time: after that, I wasn't in the mood for rapists, abusers and murderers. (So sometimes I'd record the previous week's Whose Line Is It Anyway? and watch that Monday instead.) Saw enough of early Criminal Intent to see why people get into it, but didn't keep watching. I didn't even semi-regularly watch L&O until Season 19, and only then did I start to go OK...now I'm starting to get it. There's a kind of comfort to the patterns of that show, making the murder-mayhem perhaps a little easier to process, or the not-always-happy-endings of the show a little easier to handle. But it took me over a decade to have that lightbulb moment. But at least people let me have it. People didn't begrudge me it. I didn't get L&O geeks (and they do exist, I've seen them) asking me "Why don't you like it?"...and I didn't begrudge them their enjoyment of the show. I just didn't watch. I was absorbing other media, other stories.
I also never got into or became a fan of (partial list) CSI, Blue Man Group, American Idol, mixed martial arts, most console games, Criminal Minds, cross-country running, wine making, wine drinking, or The Office. You may notice I don't talk about these things. You like them? I don't want it to seem like it's wrong for you to like them.
Geek Trivia, of course, collects a couple hundred geeks every two weeks. I'm no longer playing, but more often than not since I've stopped, I've hung out at the event. And I've listened in on conversations that get to dissing some of the shows and films that get Geek Trivia questions about them. I thought This will go from us being opinionated to us dismissing stuff. And the range of topics at Geek Trivia -- which can always be wider, as Cort and Fatboy are not into certain topics enough to make compelling questions about them, but it's still a wide range, trust me -- means there'll be plenty of stuff that's not various geeks' cup of tea. And I wonder if there's a floating sense of annoyance through the Kennedy School theater, where different cliques think THAT topic again? Why's anyone into that? It's boring. When it being a subject of a Geek Trivia trivia question suggests it's not boring at all to quite a lot of our fellow geeks, in that room and in our social circles. We're not liking something just to annoy you.
It's not all about you. No, simpler: it's not about you. We can act a little less like it is, please and thanks.
You can make the question "Why do you like something?" a compelling one. But I've seen too many geeks imply that the question really is Why would you like something? And that question? Far less compelling. I try not to ask that.
+ It's not Elisabeth Rohm from Season 1 of Angel. I never felt her character really fit in that show. Apparently she fit better into Law & Order. Again, not that I'd know...