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Rebels without a Stereotype

Over many years I have noticed a wide variety of archetypes in the people around me. From the tv level chariciture gamer, complete in food stained sweats with the social skills of, well let’s just say that they are lacking. All the way to the muscle bound jock that one might guess couldn’t even count to twenty, let alone fathom the idea that a tiny piece of plastic could have that many sides. I’ve seen stereotypes of all shapes and sizes and I have seen people smash those preconceived notions to oblivion. You may be wondering what my point is other than proving that even the socially downtrodden can have cliques and be judgmental sometimes. Thus, making themselves no better than those that once judged them.

If you look back over the last few years, it is hard not to notice the ever shifting world around us. Areas of mass media once clogged with so much mundane dreck have begun… and by begun I mean cannonballed off the diving board into brave new worlds. The realm once inhabited by those who taped their glasses together or exulted in the wonder that is the mimeograph machine. Yes, I am dating myself by admitting that I not only know of, but actually worked on the mimeograph machines in my high school AV club... and yes, I just admitted to being an AV geek.

The stereotypes of old are dying off. Gamers now come in all shapes and sizes, and yes, even genders. I still get the occasional confused look as someone walks into the game store I manage and sees females. They are slowly getting accustomed to the alien presence in their habitat however. (Our last D&D Enoucounter session 3 female players!) Of course there will always be those last bastions that proudly remain in the confines of their particular mold. It is becoming a rare occurrence these days though, to find anyone who fits conveniently under any one easily defined label. I have seen the jocks playing Magic, and dressing up as Thor.

Geeks, long considered the social misfits of the world, have conventions that bring in THOUSANDS of like-minded individuals. Last time I checked that is the definition of socializing. Nerds, the very people who used to be the punching bag of popular culture and schoolyard bully alike, now lead the way in commerce and technology. They are saving lives with advances in science… and are prime dating material in this bold new age. It is a good time to be a geek.

Growing up when/where I did, there were very few ways to be socially acceptable and a geek. Despite that I came to terms with myself long ago. I was never going to be a cheerleader or homecoming queen. I was too weird. Some, okay most, of my best friends lived in my many books, or on the pages of my sketchpads. Each brought to vivid life by my imagination. I will say this loud and I will be proud. I’m here, I’m weird, get used to it. I need this on a shirt, seriously.

Now all of that is changing and regardless there are still those who hide themselves. People who stop mid conversation when discussing their latest romp through the hallowed halls of the Palace of the Silver Princess, fearing what others might think. Yet, they speak unabashedly about their latest fantasy draft. I raise my eyebrow at how two fantasy games can provoke such differing responses… in the same person. Yes, they are both games, even if you do not want to admit it.

In a world where we are constantly telling children to be proud of who they are and to accept others for who they are. How can we expect them to take this message to heart if we aren’t showing them? The only way to teach a lesson is too live it. Words carry only so much weight. Your actions are what others are watching, especially children.

There is a now an opportunity for all of us. Mass media has brought the lifestyles of all crashing together in a melting pot of super heroes, star fighters, football, and pirates. Society has begun to accept lifestyles of the many rather than the few. The masks have begun to come off and people can show their true selves with less judgment than ever before. It is time to break out your old polyhedral dice and tell the doubters that you can slay the dragon and still exercise. Be a jock who loves to read and dress in your Star Trek command gold for conventions. If these aren’t your activities of choice find what makes you happy. Embrace your inner self and accept them. Do this and be proud of who you are, make no apologies for being yourself.

While you work on accepting yourself for all you are, don’t forget to be accepting of others as well. A simple act, a friendly smile, a casual wave these can go a long way in breaking down the walls between groups. Offer your hand to those around you and you might even learn a bit about yourself in the process.

To wrap up this month’s log I would like to quote a great man. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.” Just a small bit of wisdom, courtesy of Theodor Seuss Geisel or as most know him, Dr. Seuss.

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