Last Sunday, I was asked to pray in church for those of us in the tech industry, that we would use our skills as a means to Christ’s mission on earth. I opened my prayer by getting rid of the polite language. “Lord Jesus, be with the geeks and nerds among us. We were once made fun of but now are seen as the hope and solution for our companies. Let us use our new found influence for your glory and not our own. Let us point others to the Solution.”
The nerds and geeks have come to rule our nation logistically. We might not hold a lot of political offices but it is headline news when leaders change companies, retire, or even get sick.
Long gone are the days when the rest of the room snickered when I said, “I run websites.” Now they wait for the meeting to end and then ask for my card so they can pitch their project to me.
What makes a person a geek is that they have thrown away all semblance of generality and become hyper-knowledgeable in their sphere of knowledge.
In some regard we are all geeks. It’s how you become a professional in a field. Last year, I was at a man’s house repairing his PC that had gotten clogged up with Spyware. About every 25 minutes he would come by and look at what I was doing and say, “Man, I’m glad you know how to do that. I wouldn’t have a clue.” After a few rounds of that I stopped him. “You know– this is just my skill. If my toilet blew up or my washing machine got clogged… I’d call you. The world needs both computer nerds and plumbers.” It was an aha moment for both of us.
Geek isn’t just limited to tech. Geek is how you become an expert. And the world ceases to spin without experts.
Lack of balance
As a geek, I am perplexed at how some people judge me. They say it in subtle ways like, “I limit my use of the internet to just at work.” Or “I put up some boundaries so I don’t do that stuff while I’m home.” What they are really saying is that the thing they geek out in, say preparing for 25 hours to preach a 35 minute sermon, is somehow more noble than my task. They judge my expertise through the lens of their life and call for balance.
At the same time becoming a geek at something brings joy and satisfaction far beyond a paycheck or acclaim.
That’s the difference.
Being a geek at something is the absence of balance. It’s really an acknowledgement of letting go of a desire to maintain balance as a generalist and completely go after one thing.
Becoming a geek is making something others view as ignoble, noble.
Some say I waste a lot of time observing and participating in all sorts of things. At the same time, I don’t waste a lot of time reading books or watching mindless television.
No shame in geek
That’s the nature of geek. Going after one thing in a completely unbalanced fashion. Geeking out for hours trying to figure out how something works, how you can improve it, how others worldwide have taken it to new heights, and trying to predict when your geek-subject will go in the future.
May we stop judging and start embracing and supporting the complete lack of balance of the geek class. Stop trying to change them because, in the end, they will change you.