Self-Hate Harms

July 29th, 2010 § 13 comments

My Gen Con tips from last year contain this piece of advice:

There is a CVS about three blocks from the convention center. It is your best bet for inexpensive bottled drinks, snackfood, cigarettes, Red Bull, and condoms.

Jonathan Medina (@mtgmetagame) had this to say about that advice, yesterday:

Just read @adamjury’s GenCon Tips -> http://tinyurl.com/39q4jvm Favorite Part “There is a CVS about three blocks from the convention center, It is your best bet for inexpensive bottled drinks, snackfood, cigarettes, Red Bull, and condoms.” Condoms?! Really at GenCon?! lol
(Part 1, Part 2)

I think Medina is a cool guy and I enjoy this writing, but naturally, his tweet ended up getting him a good handful of “Why on earth would Magic players need condoms?”-style replies.

I gotta ask: gamers, Magic players, why do you feel the need to self-hate? Yes, there’s things in the gaming community to dislike and discourage, but here’s the thing: Self-hate may look to you like an in-joke when it’s limited to your “tribe” but those on the outside will take it at face value, and all those stereotypes will continue to be perpetuated. If you want to rise above the “smelly/hopeless/loveless/jobless/etc. geeks playing that dumb game all day” stereotypes then you have to show the positive side of yourself and your hobbies—not just putting on a show to non-geeks, but by treating your fellow gamer better, and treating them as complete human beings: including love and sex lives. People will notice how you treat other people and form opinions of you based on that, not just how you treat them directly. Geeks treating geeks well will raise their profile among non-geeks (and for a direct bonus, it’s usually more fun to hang out with people who are treating you well!)

And Jonathan, if you need the most important Circle of Protection at the show, hunt me down at booth #2009 (Posthuman Studios, Sandstorm Productions, WildFire)—I always have a couple handy.

§ 13 Responses to Self-Hate Harms"

  • I definitely agreee, Adam. I’ve been a gamer since I was six, so for 30+ years now, and my joy of nerdom/geekdom is a key aspect of my life, and it’s never slowed me down nor had me thinking less of myself. The only thing that has slowed me down is the standard relationship tropes that hit everyone, period.

    Since my teens I’ve always gotten the “You’re a gamer” reaction, simply because I don’t fit the stereotype. Of course my reaction was always, “I didn’t know there was actually a uniform.”

    Solid piece, as well as good advice.

  • Jack Graham says:

    Adam Jury: laid man.

  • Steven Marsh says:

    I find it odd that you would come down on the side of “political correctness,” with certain topics that groups can or cannot joke about.

  • My first impression when reading that section a year ago was something like “Wow, about time somebody acknowledged that yes, geeks get laid too.”

    I don’t doubt there will be plenty of hookups, drunken and otherwise, amongst GenCon attendees next week.

  • Adam says:

    I don’t see this as “political correctness” — I see it as “not shitting in the same place you eat.”

    Individual actions by individual people are fair game for calling out as bullshit. Slamming a subculture as a whole sucks, and doing so when you are part of that subculture even suckier. Why don’t you spend your time trying to improve it?

  • Steven Marsh says:

    Actually, it’s generally acknowledged that slamming a subculture one belongs to is one of the few safe ways one can slam a subculture . . . slamming other subcultures is usually fairly boorish and pretty dangerous. (Then again, as an Irishman, I guess I don’t mind picking a fight here . . .)

    Plus I find it odd that you consider “a lesser interest in sex compared to other pursuits” to be some kind of death-shiv insult. If I say make a quip that boils down to “midwesterners are fairly unemotional” or “Canadians are pretty darn polite,” I don’t see either as being a soul-crushing blow to the groups in question. So the implication that gamers at a game convention might be more interested in gaming than non-gaming activities is not, at its core, particularly insulting to me.

    Finally, if the comments were completely 100% untrue, then they would be nonsensical. I mean, if I say, “You know what they say about Floridians, right? Total sexless plant-eaters who wear leather and Spandex. Who’s with me?!”, that comment would be met with confused glassy stares.

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s been a better time to be a geek in the past century. Sure, people gawk at the extreme members of our group, but they gawk at the guys who strip naked and paint themselves before football games. I’ve felt more comfortable telling people what I do and what my interests are in the past few years than I did in the first few decades of my life… the persistence of some jabs notwithstanding.

    If there’s grounds to criticize the jokes, I think it’s that they’re relatively easy, and not terribly funny… but that probably applies to most jokes. Really, the existence of stereotypes hadn’t done much to dampen my social life, even before I married a fellow geek.

  • Adam says:

    Plus I find it odd that you consider “a lesser interest in sex compared to other pursuits” to be some kind of death-shiv insult.

    Ah, you’re reading it that way, I’m reading: “Jesus, those people at Gen Con couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse because they would be too busy calculating the DEX of the ladies.” or “Sex at Gen Con? THERE ARE NO GIRL GAMERS!”

    (of course, America in general is pretty bad at discussing sex sensibly, in public. I think “If you’re gonna need condoms, this is probably the most convenient place to get them” is a pretty sensible thing to share. And, hey, 30,000 people at Gen Con — odds are really good some of them are having sex. Nobody told me that smoking was gross, even though I pointed out that you can get cigarettes there too. I know what _I_ would rather have in my laptop bag all weekend …_)

    Frankly, I don’t think it’s been a better time to be a geek in the past century. Sure, people gawk at the extreme members of our group, but they gawk at the guys who strip naked and paint themselves before football games.

    I generally agree with you that it’s a great time to be a geek, and there’s a ton of great geek stuff — so why the fuck are we pissing on each other instead of telling everyone how awesome it is?

    If there’s grounds to criticize the jokes, I think it’s that they’re relatively easy, and not terribly funny… but that probably applies to most jokes.

    Concur. Most geek humour has been through the washing machine so many time the letters have worn right off.

  • BG Josh says:

    First off, it’s twitter. The message is intended for the 20 people that follow him.

    Second off, you don’t have the right to not be offended. Rather than get offended why not do something positive? (see what I did there?)

    I looked at his twitter feed (or tweed, to use the proper terminology). The guy, to put it kindly, is a dumbass. If you really want to do the world some good, go give him some grammar lessons. To say he is “slamming” a subculture gives him lots of credit.

    You can spend your time getting mad at everyone. Or you can just relax. Now, if this had come from someone famous or important it would be different. But it just came from a guy. And the rule is “you don’t pick on the little guys.”

  • Josh, I think Adam’s point is that it’s not just one guy. It’s an attitude that’s endemic to the geek subculture, even when the opposite it true in many case (in that geeks get laid an awful lot, just not outside of their subcultural strata). Self-deprecation of one’s social subculture is self harm, like Adam said. It’s also a pretty abhorrent mix of self-loathing and acceptance of the notion that one’s social group may be inferior to others.

  • Especially given how much crossover there seems to be between geek and kink.

    Maybe that’s just my friends? I don’t know.

  • Peter Hyvonen says:

    Traditionally geek culture was an outsider thing, lacking confidence, picked on, etc, etc. There were those who bucked the curve but they were few and far between. They were socially awkward and thus it was easy to poke fun at themselves. Now days its chic to be geek, confidence is building geek behavior is not only more acceptable but encourages thus making the geek less socially awkward. I’m in my 30s and its a lot easier for me to be a geek and fit in with my peers than someone in their 40s. Likewise its even easier for someone in their 20s than it is for me. If this trend continues the stereotype will fade away over time.

  • BG Josh says:

    James, self deprecation is found in all culture.
    And generally geeks/nerds do feel that other groups are “socially superior” they just don’t care about social superiority.

    Peter, you say “Traditionally geek culture was an outsider thing, lacking confidence, picked on, etc, etc. There were those who bucked the curve but they were few and far between. They were socially awkward and thus it was easy to poke fun at themselves.”

    The defining factor of geek/nerd culture is in being the outsider and not falling into social norms. That is still the case.

  • @Adam
    Hey Brotha!

    I didn’t expect my twitter post to spawn this reaction, not that this is bad. I think you make a great point in general, but you might have misunderstood my tone or the roots of the comment. My intention was not to slam the “geek” sub-culture or even to poke fun. I was just suprised to read the advice about where to get condoms, because thats not where my head is at (Pun Intended lol).

    I have never been to GenCon, so I am looking forward to 4 days of pure gaming. It’s not that I dont like sex, Its not that I think that I or any of geek compodres are not good enough for sex. I’ve had plenty of sex I plan to continue doing so with my hot wife after GenCon. I just never connected GenCon with sex until I read your post. The only thing on my mind has been trading Magic Cards, meeting people and playing in Vintage Champs. It took a moment, but the idea of people having sex at Gen Con makes perfect sense.

    That being said, I think you make an interesting point. No one should give credence to negative sterotypes about the communinities that they associate with. It can be destructive.

    Anyways great post. I will be sure to pass it on to my 20 Twitter followers ;)

    Peace Bro!

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