Maryam is not a Jerk

Maryam is taking some unfair blows on her reply to my reminder that I’m socially inept a tech geek. Although, I’m gratified to read in some comments that there are women who also think of themselves as geeks, I want to address a misconception some folks might have.

Maryam never said women can’t DO geek, she’s just said we can’t be labeled geeks.

Maryam is a capable woman, fully equipped to defend herself, but if I may say so, she caved in too easily in her gracious follow-up. Why? She’s got every right to have an opinion on the subject. She’s like an anthropologist studying an obscure tribe in the Silicon Forest and Valley. Besides, I’d be stupid to complain that she values my “artistic and literary qualities.”

Her opinion of me is my fault, if fault is to be found, since I don’t expose my geek side to her very often.

Maryam has a more narrow definition of the word “geek” than I have, understandably so. She lives in the middle of an intense and specialized tech community that is mostly male. The people she regards as geeks mostly talk about gadgets, tech products, or play video games. I don’t qualify as that flavor of geek since:

  • I don’t care about video games
  • I have little use for gadgets except as tools (my passion is for every-day solutions to real business problems, and programming craft, which is dry stuff)
  • I welcome opportunities to get my brain out of code once in awhile
  • I love getting to know other people and what floats their boats

It’s no wonder Ponzi doesn’t think to call me for advise about managing email!

I appreciate Maryam’s definition. It’s sensible. I’m an unrepentant relativist, though, and as such I see any quality as being a matter of degrees. I’m not hardcore, and that used to bother me, but, thankfully, age does bring a measure of acceptance, or is it resignation?

The ways in which Maryam and I disagree is damned interesting, and full of potential for future discussion. I hope we continue to explore some of these ideas. They’ll be controversial subjects, but my respect for Maryam and appreciation of her views will always remain constant. After all, we agree that, as Maryam wrote, “girls and women can be intelligent, technologists, scientists, ambitious, professional…”

Here’s to seeing something unexpected in someone you think you know well.

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5 thoughts on “Maryam is not a Jerk

  1. I’m more of the geek, I think. I love gadgets. I like playing video games. I love checking out the newest products. i live by RSS feeds and responding to people I support by email rather than face-to-face time. I don’t enjoy getting to know people – they freak me out and I don’t seem to belong very well with them. I like living inside my head and my coding. It makes me happy.

    I’ve been called aloof, distant, and geeky. I am. I know this. I just try to function in normal society the best I can.

    And I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion. We all look at the world from different angles and that colors how we respond to it.

  2. Dawn: Agreed. 100%. I like getting to know other people, but one on one. Telephones are only good because because they give us Internet access. I tolerate conversation only out of necessity.

    Groups terrify me. I’m better in groups if there’s some reason for the get-together, like helping someone move. But, I do push myself to do the social thing. I’ve had enough good experiences that I’m willing to try it, plus, my mind is like a bad neighborhood. It’s a little scary to spend too much time alone there. :) That said, I’m taking this week off of anything but the necessary meatspace interactions because I had a busy week last week and have overloaded.

    I think that just makes us introverts. Someone told me once that 75% of people are extroverts, so no wonder we feel overwhelmed sometimes. Tho’ how the hell do they figure that? I don’t see how anyone who isn’t introverted could like coding enough to do it for a living or passion. It’s far too isolating.

    Oh, and I’ve been called stuck up, too. “Aloof” would have been too stuck up a word to use by my name-callers ;-).

  3. Heh. I had someone call me an ambivert. I’m naturally an introvert but, if I have to, I can turn on the energy to do a social thing. After that, though, I need quiet time and space to decompress and get back to me.

    I work in higher education. Aloof is mild for them. ;-)

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