Words and Geeks

There is a blog on ITToolbox that regularly covers an individual's Pet Peeves. When I hear the phrase pet peeve I think of out of the many things that a person dislikes there are a few that are his pet peeves. The blog in question however features a pet peeve most every day. At least in this case the term has developed a meaning all its own.

In any case using the term as he does one of my pet peeves is the use of the term Geek to imply expertise in computers or electronics.

If you look the term up in a dictionary you will in fact find that one of the definitions may be "A knowledgeable and obsessive computer enthusiast". As it is used in advertising such as The Geek Squad Geeks R Us etc. the term is almost used as a qualification for the job. "He's good at computers because he's a geek." The way in which it is most used it might best fit the words primary definition "a carnival performer". It's an advertising term suggesting that eccentricity is akin to expertise.

Then there's the pet peeve that implies that your 12 year is a computer expert since he knows so much more than you about computers. It's a common joke that the family needs to get his 12 year to figure something out. He may know more than you but he's very likely not an expert.

In my early days with computers I was involved with a BBS network and related computer interests that attracted a lot of teenagers. Over several years I got to know several of them. They were always doing new things trying things showing off the things they made their computer do. Sometimes malicious things. But only one in dozens was tracking a course that would eventually lead to expertise in the field.

My irritance however is not with your offspring. Your 12-year old knows more than you because you didn't learn stuff that you could have been teaching him yourself.

In both cases this points out our own state of human intelligence in the United States. People don't learn. They would rather spend their time watching TV following sports golf or other recreational activities. In the US entertainment is king. Our judgment of products and services is based on cliquey phrases and general kookiness and not on an intelligent review of their reliability quality and value. It's no wonder that we are being taken over by business monopolies and other forces that dwarf political entities like China.

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