Jan 132010
David Denby's book, "Snark"

David Denby's book, "Snark" (photo by cogdogblog on Flickr)

Some days, being snarky is its own reward. Today is one of those days where we can all feel just a little bit smug and superior, and perhaps indulge in a small slice of Schadenfreude Pie (whose diet-torpedoing recipe is courtesy of SF author John Scalzi). We may not be the strongest, or the fastest, or the hottest population segment on the planet… but we sure aren’t the dumbest.

After the jump, some unremitting snark, as well as ways how we can do, and be, better.

On the one hand, there is the justifiable flak that BeautifulPeople.com (no, we’re not linking to them, and you’ll see why in a moment) is catching these days. Unceremoniously dumping five thousand of their most honest clients for the transgression of merely admitting they gained a couple of pounds over the holidays? Brilliant! Way to reinforce a whole bevy of negative stereotypes and unrealistic expectations, BP!

By my count, this hits on a number of the biggies – excessive focus on looks to the exclusion of everything else, obsession with weight as a factor in attractiveness – as well as the in-crowd clique behavior we all remember oh so fondly from our younger days. The fact that the forthrightness of the folks who said, “I put on a couple pounds over the holidays,” resulted in their being kicked off the island just reinforces the notion that dishonesty is the way to succeed in interpersonal relationships.  All in all, they have heartily earned the giant, heaping bowl of, “Wow, do you guys suck,” they’ve gotten.

At the other end of the spectrum, unrepentantly un-pretty weightlifters aren’t immune from well-earned criticism (they’re just a lot more dangerous to criticise). Between the interlocutor and the fella giving the answers, my spellcheck sense is tingling something fierce.  This isn’t to say it’s a dumb question or a bad answer – to the contrary, it’s actually a question I’ve had myself, and sound advice for addressing it.  However, reinforcing the “dumb meat-head” stereotype isn’t doing anyone any favors, either.

As a traditionally marginalized population, even though acceptance of geek culture is on the rise, we’re used to getting the social shaft. For some folks, that turns into bitterness and resentment, which is why being catty like this feels good. A more productive approach is to take what we’ve learned about getting the short end of the stick and try to help other folks up when they fall on their face. Developing a measure of empathy translates to a lot of things, whether you’re doing tech support or personal training. Understanding what the other person needs, and how to get them to understand what they need to do in order to succeed, stems from having been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt.

Everyone’s imperfect. But we’re doing something about getting better, or we wouldn’t be here.

Reality checks always draw on insufficient funds, kids. Don’t always be That Guy.

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  One Response to “Damn it feels good to be a geekster”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by shrinkgeek: Damn it feels good to be a geekster http://bit.ly/7giIaP

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