In defence of mediocrity

(Edit: This blog is getting way more views than I expected! So I just want to add a little preface. As usual, it’s only the vocal minority that spoil things. Most people, when they find out that you like what they like, are absolutely thrilled. This blog was triggered by a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago about video games after which I felt like I just wanted to crawl in a hole. It made me reflect on how I’m changing my approach to my own enthusiasm.)

I used to think that I was extremist. A Marmiter. Incapable of indifference or mildness. I either loved something or hated it. Not so, now.

Have I grown up?

Have I mellowed?

Too late, it seems. I find myself in a world where that isn’t the right way any more. Where you can’t just kind of like something. Where you’re not anyone unless you can choke and giggle that you’re “obsessed with” x or y.

I kind of like anime. I’m not a connoisseur, and I don’t pretend to be, but I do kind of like it. I *really* like the ones I watch. I’m trying to learn Japanese because I think it’s a beautiful language. But if you’re into it, but not PROPERLY INTO IT, if you’re only halfway, then it must be pretension. They call it Weeaboo.

I kind of like video games. I don’t have the budget to play all the games I’d like to, but I keep up to date with things and I can pretty much hold forth on a conversation about games I’ve barely played. I don’t purport to have played every game ever made; I don’t pretend that gaming is a key and solid part of my daily routine – but I do kind of like it. I *really* like the games I’ve played. I get excited by references to those games and I feel like they’re an important part of my life. But if you’re into it, but not PROPERLY INTO IT, if you’re only halfway, then it must be pretension. They call it Fake Gamer Girl.

I kind of like Pokemon. I haven’t had the time or the money to keep up with all the games on all the platforms, and they’re now so terribly and beautifully and majestically complex that, like the little critters they feature, they have evolved into something so fearsome that only if you have trained at every stage from the beginning do you have any hope of keeping up with what’s going on. I don’t act like I can recite any further than #151, but I do kind of like it. I *really* like the N64 games and the first movie still makes me cry every. Single. Freaking. Time. But if you’re into it, but not PROPERLY INTO IT, if you’re only halfway, then it must be pretension. They call it Genwunner.

I kind of like the idea of comics. I’d like to read comics more. But I feel like I’m expected to be the classic comic book nerd who can cite the exact number and date of any given issue of any major comic franchise, because that’s become the Uncool Nerd thing. I feel like it’s a world that’s barred to me, that forbids me from even starting, because my ignorance will make me uncool to the Cool Uncool People.

Here are a few more things that I kind of like – actually, that I *really* like – and know a damn sight more about than most people, but not enough about to stop me from feeling like I’m just going to seem like a try-hard dumbass when I meet people who are PROPERLY INTO IT. Magic. Folk music. Herge. Snooker. Fashion. Whedon. Morris dancing. The Beatles. William Blake. Astronomy.

I am conceited enough to believe that I am the kind of young woman who at one time might have been thought accomplished. I know a considerable amount about a lot of things and I can hold a conversation on a whole range of possibly unexpected topics.

But I think that the Internet has opened possibilities that are simultaneously wonderful and very dangerous. You can find out everything about everything. A little about a lot is no longer any good. You have to know at least one thing in immense, paranoiac detail. As they say: le geek, c’est chic. That’s great – nobody should be looked down on. Celebrate your love. Celebrate the things you enjoy. But if I say I like something, please don’t shout me down, tell me I’m inadequate or say that I have no place among you simply because my knowledge of the topic is inferior to yours. I’m sorry that it’s not cool to have other interests that are of equal value to me and prevent me from devoting my entire being to one particular area of expertise.

Please, everyone: don’t create a world where someone can be too afraid to mention their enthusiasm for a topic for fear that it will prove insufficient. Right now, that someone is me.


4 thoughts on “In defence of mediocrity

  1. The thing I hate about ‘like’ is that it sounds like you like – well not surprisingly! Can we have ‘Well said!” or “I’m with you on that one”? (Now I’m worrying about the question mark outside the inverted commas – not strictly the rule but right, I feel, in this case.)
    The point is I can’t ‘like’ this because ‘like’ is a bit too frivolous but I do say (to anyone listening) “Hear hear!”

  2. Thanks v much, Anon! Well, at least it’s a like button and not an “OMG ARE YOU KIDDING I FLIPPING *LIVE* FOR THIS!” button eh? 😉 Glad you agree though. And I also concur with your choice of punctuation sequencing.

  3. You are bang on, Miss Ford. I wrote to the BBC on this subject recently. I am a pretty quintessential geek, and luckily for me I have a good memory and self-confidence in spadefuls. I remember school, though, and we were a mixed bag, which was kinda the point. Being a geek was about being tolerant and accepting, because all you had was each other. The onset of geekdom becoming cool has, very sadly, simply meant that geekdom has become elitist 😦

    • Yes, Steven, exactly.
      I mean I understand it in some way. The people who were once uncool suddenly find themselves hailed as cool, but as a side effect they’re having their treasured culture appropriated by what they see as glory supporters.
      And to some extent that is happening (for example, Primark selling t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan GEEK, and I bet that a good number of those are worn by girls who take selfies, hate school and say “use the Force haha Star Trek I’m such a geek lol”) but the assumption seems to be that anyone who isn’t fully immersed is of therefore of that strata.
      I’ve been “semi-geek”, if you like, my whole life and shall continue to be. But I find that my confidence in declaring myself as such has in fact fallen at exactly the same rate that it’s become cool to be so. Not because I want to be uncool and different, but because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s