The Deep Geek
Charles Oropallo never thought of himself as a geek. In fact, Charles had barely known 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. The’s how Charles Oropallo recall the word in 1977 when he became most heavily involved with computers.
At the time of this writing in 2019, geek typically connotes an expert or enthusiast or a person obsessed with some hobby or intellectual pursuit, i.e., with a general pejorative meaning of a peculiar person – especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual, unfashionable, boring, or socially awkward. While Charles Oropallo might tend toward unfashionable at times, he is hard-pressed to think of himself as boring or even less as socially awkward. However, Charles is clearly obsessed with computers and Internet.
Some use the term geek self-referentially without malice or 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, it remains a pejorative, widely used in an abusive manner especially against children and teens who may be more focused on studies, while less popular, fashionable, or socially inclined.
The words nerd and geek are often used interchangeably. Many think they mean the same thing. Charles Oropallo believes they really aren’t the same.
Charles would think of a geek as more of an enthusiast of a particular topic or field. He believes that the distinction is that geeks can be described as fans of their subjects while nerds are actually practitioners of them.
Many people seem to 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 stereotype. However, as with other pejoratives, Charles believes it has been reclaimed and redefined by some as a term of pride and group identity.
In the end, whether Charles Oropallo is really a geek or not is probably mostly for others to decide. Charles definitely thinks the word geek is very descriptive of him. Charles Oropallo could be just as happy off on vacation or holed up in his office doing computer maintenance. Maybe the fact that the latter is what he does most of the time speaks for itself. Of course, he doesn’t go on vacation anywhere there is no access to a computer and the Internet!