The unofficial psychology blog from Paul Hutchings

In Defence of Geeks

I’m a bit of a geek –  I’m quite happy to admit it and so should anyone else be who has ever been called a geek.  Now the chances are that if you are reading this you are a bit of a geek as well.  Most people who find their way to this page are going to be geeks, I write about geeky stuff.  But on the off-chance that you were looking up ‘how to beat up geeks’ on a search engine and ended up here or thought this was a short-cut to the shopping channel, let me tell you some of the reasons why being a geek is so good.

Being a geek in Hong Kong

Being a geek in Hong Kong

Ever been bored?  For your average geek it is a virtual impossibility.  First of all, there’s always a DVD that can be watched for the 80th time.  But even if the DVD player isn’t working there is always TV –  the news, a documentary about trawler fishermen, a series about life in the 16th century, there is always something on, and geeks have a natural fascination for knowledge.  And then there’s books – books, books, books, books, books –  on every topic under the sun.  And now that you can fit half a library on to something that can fit in your pocket there is no way you can ever be bored.  In fact, there aren’t enough hours in the day –  and we haven’t even got as far as work yet!

Being a geek in New York

Being a geek in New York

Many geeks manage to find work around the things they love –  then you get the ability to do what you enjoy and get paid for it at the same time… how good is that?  I love data, I love finding out what makes people behave in certain ways, I love the frustration of wrestling with a problem and I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with solving the problem;  or the further frustration when it goes wrong –  because it is an emotion and emotions are the things that let us know we are alive and aren’t just some automaton.  In that respect being a geek is having a life because it is those emotions, whether they be elation or despair, are the true parts of feeling alive.

Being a geek in... let's just say Wales

Being a geek in… let’s just say Wales

And some people reach the uber-geekness land of academia; the place where being a geek is not just good, it is lauded.

As a student you get to discuss all sorts of things with other geeks.  You get entire rooms devoted to being a geek.

If you take it further and go into research you get to be a geek all over the world –  yes, people will pay you to go and talk to them about your geek stuff.

Being a geek in Las Vegas

Being a geek in Las Vegas

Doing research, giving talks, working with people, you get opportunities that few jobs can provide.

Being a geek in San Francisco

Being a geek in San Francisco








Being a geek in the press

Being a geek in the press

People phone you up and ask your opinion on things and then write about it in the press – you get to inform other people of things.


Even if you don’t go all the way into academia full-time you still get the best part –  knowledge.  You know things that other people don’t even know that they want to know!  How cool is that?


So if you’re not a geek, you really are missing out.  If you are a geek, enjoy it – embrace it and become the best geek you possibly can, it can take you anywhere.

And to finish off, I think this Urban Dictionary definition of a geek is far better than the standard dictionary version… ‘The people you pick on in high school and wind up working for as an adult’


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2 Responses »

  1. I certainly appreciated reading your post, but geeks haven’t had to defend themselves in over two decades. Holding top spots in wealth, television and holding either our fascination or dependence. Geeks are doing alright for themselves….lol

    • I certainly agree with you about outcomes for geeks – I think the Urban Dictionary definition is a pretty accurate one! I still see the negative side with teenagers in particular though, even at a university level (although thankfully not too much) – for some it is still ‘cool’ not to study and do the work, get by on minimal effort, and the ‘party over work’ culture can still be found quite a bit. At school level in some areas (certainly some of those not too far from where I live for example) there is a real negativity to studying and being a geek is definitely derogatory. They are the ones I feel for – those of us who have got through that stage tend to do well but the younger ones who may struggle with the label need to be proud and look to the future because, as you say, they’ll be doing alright for themselves too.

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