The Deep Geek
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 he became most heavily involved with computers.
At the time of this writing in 2019, the word “geek” typically connotes an expert or enthusiast – or a person obsessed with some hobby or intellectual pursuit. It seems to has 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 Charles Oropallo might tend toward overly intellectual or even 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 and usually 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 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 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 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!