Thursday, July 05, 2007

When a Geek Laughs

I'm a geek. And in case you weren't aware, being a geek is "in". Part of pop culture, in fact, with shows like Beauty and the Geek. It wasn't always that way, I know. As a teen, being a geek was okay...but only to other geeks. My geek friends could safely call me a geek, but if a sports jock called me a geek, it was a serious insult.

At one time in my life, I was also a nerd. And in case you are wondering what differentiates the geek from the nerd, I define a nerd to be "a geek who looks the part". That's because there are plenty of geeks out there who you'd never peg as a geek by looks alone. (, maybe I am a nerd, by that definition.)

Anyhow, recently, I become aware of seeming common trait among geeks. Geeks seem to amuse themselves easily. Things that aren't even funny will make them laugh out loud. And even moreso for things that aren't funny but are their own sayings.

There is one guy at work, for example, who has a laugh you can hear across the room. It is this laugh that originates not because anyone else said anything funny, but because he said something cleverly unfunny but amusing to himself. Anyone without arms length is obliged to laugh along with him, all the while knowing it really wasn't all that funny.

The sad truth is that I suffer the same malady, much the chagrin of my wife. I'm constantly making jokes that, in hindsight, really aren't funny to anyone else but myself. But I think they're funny. So, I laugh. Usually by myself. With everyone else just staring at me blankly.

I have to believe that when a geek laughs, it is a self-preservation technique. Geeks are so analytical, so self-focused, that they tend to miss a lot of humor around them. Yet, we all need to laugh. So, finding humor within ourselves is the only solution.

I celebrate my geek-hood. I firmly believe that while women like the jock, or perhaps the "bad boy" when dating...the one they really want to settle down with for the rest of their lives is the geek. A geek brings security, and often a big source of income if they are truly geeky enough.

Unfortunately, they don't bring much in the way of a sense of humor.

But that's what having kids is for.


Shannon said...

I guess by your definition of geek, I am one too.

As a matter of fact, just last night, I said something and laughed hysterically because I thought it was clever and funny. I looked over at my husband who had a deadpan expression on his face as he rolled his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head.

Peter said...

Yes, I have that also.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank god, I thought that my boyfriend was simply not funny. It's good to know it's a documented phenomenon.

It's been very strange dating someone who doesn't make me laugh very often. He is, however, getting better. I am a bit nerdy myself, but apparently am more aware of what makes other people laugh.

I think that's what it comes down to: you can only be considered 'funny' if other people consider you funny. It's one of those traits that's really about pleasing others. Like being nice, or generous. *You* may think you're a nice person, but if no one agrees with you, chances are you're not.

(That last one not being something geeks/nerds usually have a problem with.)

Oh, and I've always understood 'nerd' to specifically imply someone who is smart but lacking certain social skills. 'Geek' means someone weird and lacking certain social skills. Example: someone who watches Star Trek religiously because they enjoy the science and the science fiction of the show is a nerd. Someone who dresses up in Star Trek gear regularly without the need for a convention is a geek. And yes, you can be both.