Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nerd Gatekeepers: The Downfall of a Culture

Just a little rant here relating to things like the recent #Gamergate fiasco, which continues my almost two month rant about how the Pokémon community, in association with other gaming and "nerd" communities, is digressing.

First of all, I was NEVER a popular kid. I was way into dinosaurs, and never cared about sports. I liked collecting transformers, and when Pokémon came out when I was thirteen I became an instant fan. I enjoyed the idea of collecting, I liked there were some who appeared dinosaur-like, and I enjoyed the RPG format, mainly because it was the first RPG I was particularly good at.

Pokémon came out at a bad time in my life. By that I mean it wasn't thought to be normal for a teenager to enjoy a "kid's game" so much. Had I been in middle school, it would have been fine. In my hometown, which is very rural, kids my age were off hunting deer or playing football. I had no interest in either. This led to me being frequently persecuted by my peers, predominantly those who now fall into what are considered "bros": males who posses athletic ability and an affinity for things that are stereotypical of teenage or college age males (drinking beer, fast cars, etc). It wasn't restricted to just males though. In fact, many of the people who treated me the worst were female. In the end, gender doesn't matter. Psychological and physical bullying is still just bullying, regardless of which gender perpetuates it. Since I didn't fit the established norm, many things about me were called into question. It's really hard to live a normal life when 90% of your peers would rather persecute you than just let you live your life in peace. My life was a living nightmare between 5th grade and 12th. Only toward the end of my senior year did I actually start enjoying being me, but that was mainly because I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. On the flip side, college was great. It was still near that rural town I grew up in, but as students came from around the world, the view of what is "normal" wasn't so small.

Now, this being said I'm happy that things that used to be considered nerdy and odd are now mainstream. I like that I can share my interests with others without fear of persecution. Unfortunately, people who grew up like me don't always share the same opinion. There are some who now feel the need to guard the "nerd culture" from the masses as they feel that it is being diluted. To me this is just as bigoted of a stance as the ones the "bros" used to perpetuate. Before I felt that I was doing good by working past all of the hate to maintain my identity. Now it seems that hate has shifted. Now we have "nerd gatekeepers" and "internet trolls" excluding others that don't meet their standards of what is acceptable in "nerd culture". In my opinion, these people are only hurting that culture. I find myself ashamed to be associated with these people based on our shared interests. I can only hope more people like myself, who are willing to be friendly to people who haven't caught every single Pokémon or watched every episode of the first series of Transformers, will stand up and decide to not be pulled down to the level these people inhabit. Just as we should have been allowed to enjoy our interests in the past, we should not be excluding others from enjoying it now.