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The Deep Geek

Charles Oropallo and Susan Oropallo on a tour bus on route to the Eiffel Tower on July 12, 2014. Photo by Charles Oropallo.
Charles Oropallo and Susan Oropallo on a tour bus on route to the Eiffel Tower on July 12, 2014. Photo by Charles Oropallo.

Do people ever actually think of themselves as geeks?

Certainly, Charles Oropallo never thought of himself as a geek. In truth, Charles had barely realized what the word geek actually meant.

The word geek, according to Wikipedia, is a slang term. Referring to someone as a geek was originally descriptive of eccentric or non-mainstream people. That’s Charles Oropallo’s recollection of the word in 1977 when Charles became most heavily involved with computers.

Geek Defined

Charles Oropallo and Susan Oropallo on a tour bus on route to the Eiffel Tower on July 12, 2014. Photo through rear view mirror by Charles Oropallo.
Charles Oropallo and Susan Oropallo on a tour bus on route to the Eiffel Tower on July 12, 2014. Photo through rear view mirror of a tour bus by Charles Oropallo.

At the time of this writing in 2019, the word “geek” typically connoted an expert or enthusiast – or a person obsessed with some hobby or intellectual pursuit. The word also seemed to have a general pejorative meaning (expressing contempt or disapproval) of a peculiar person – especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, boring, or socially awkward.

While it’s always been clear that Charles Oropallo might tend toward appearing overly intellectual or even unfashionable at times, Charles has been hard-pressed to think of himself as boring – or even less as socially awkward. However, anyone who knows Charles at all realizes that Charles is clearly obsessed with computers and Internet.

Susan and Charles with Eiffel Tower in background July 2014
Susan Oropallo and Charles Oropallo with Eiffel Tower in background July 2014

Some use the term geek self-referentially without malice or even as a source of pride – often referring simply to “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”. Nonetheless, the term “geek” remains a pejorative – widely used in an abusive manner – especially against children and teens who may be more focused on studies and usually less popular, fashionable, or socially inclined.

The words nerd and geek seem to be used interchangeably. Many people think they mean the same thing. Charles Oropallo believes they really are different from one another.

Susan Oropallo and Charles Oropallo at upper level of Notre Dame in Paris, France on July 17, 2014.
Susan Oropallo and Charles Oropallo at the upper level of Notre Dame in Paris, France on July 17, 2014.

Charles would think of a geek as more of an enthusiast of a particular topic or field.

Charles believes the distinction is that geeks can be described as fans of their subjects – while nerds are actually practitioners of them.

Charles also believes that many people refer to so-called “nerds” as shy, quirky, pedantic, and unattractive.

Charles Oropallo remembers that term as originally derogatory, i.e., the term “nerd” was a usually a somewhat negative stereotype. However, as with other pejoratives, Charles believes it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.

To be or not to be

Deep Geek Charles Oropallo on vacation in Paris on July 16, 2014. Photo by Susan Oropallo.
Deep Geek Charles Oropallo on vacation in Paris on July 16, 2014. Photo by Susan Oropallo.

In the end, whether Charles Oropallo is to be considered a geek or not is probably best left for others to decide. Charles definitely believes the word geek is very descriptive of him. Charles Oropallo could be just as happy off on an exotic vacation or holed up in his office doing computer work. Maybe the fact that the latter is what Charles does most of the time speaks for itself.

Of course, Charles Oropallo seldom goes on vacation anywhere there is no access to a computer and the Internet! But it does occasionally happen…

Peterborough NH

Paris FR

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