Thursday, August 13, 2009
Enough is ENOUGH, already!!!
That's it, people. I've had it. This post has been building in me for I don't know how long, and I have to let it out. I'm rather tense about it, so I apologize for any disconnected thoughts. This isn't Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism. This is me, fed up.
The time is way, way past for stopping the use of the terms "geek" or nerd". I'm going to focus on the stereotypes of birders and nature lovers, but this could easily spill over into the technical fields, fans of Sci-Fi, etc.
Let's start with the definitions of "geek" and "nerd", according to Wikipedia:
"a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc."
"a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers or will tend to associate with like-minded people."
(My favorite picture from the Flock's trip to WV...I just wish the whole Flock could have been in it)
As of today, I will be taking offense at anyone daring to call me, or any other nature lover, a geek, nerd, dweeb, snod (that's a new one I just learned), etc, etc, ad nauseum.
I'm not one to psychologically dissect any of this behavior, but my opinion is that it is a knee-jerk reaction to "label" a person based on their actions, especially when we don't understand the obsession.
*Star Trek conventions, with people dressed as their favorite character. Same with Star Wars, and any number of other shows or movies: Ever been to one of those? They are fantastic fun, booths selling things you are interested in, like-minded people who totally get you and your love of whatever subject you are all celebrating. Stars from the shows or movies come to these events, and you get autographs and a minute of their time to ask questions.
(Anyone else think this sounds like a birding festival? Except that we don't wear costumes, we wear bird shirts. And instead of Leonard Nimoy, we swoon over David Sibley, Bill Thompson and Julie Zickefoose, Scott Weidensaul, etc. )
As of today, I won't be tolerating any nature or bird lover calling themselves "Bird Nerds" or "Nature Geeks". I'm not having it.
Even if you are saying it in jest, or think it's a badge of honor.
I took a Cultural Sensitivity class years ago, a required study at the direct care facility I was employed by. There was a mix of all ages, races, financial "status", occupations, etc. The one thing that I have carried with me ever since is this:
Stereotypes, whether they are negative or positive, have the potential to be hurtful or damaging.
Any stereotype you can come up with, whether it is "complimentary" or "derogatory", puts not only the stereotyped person at a disadvantage, but it greatly depresses your ability to truly know the person. If all you see is the stereotype, then you don't see the other human being.
I can't address all of the parts of the "Birder" stereotype, but I have witnessed first-hand just how short-sighted and frankly inaccurate it is...
(I have yet to meet anyone who fits the "Birder" or "Birdwatcher" stereotype).
I guess that stereotype dictates that we are to be strangely-dressed, stodgy, socially-inept pantywaists who just sit on park benches and feed pigeons?
I beg your ****ing pardon?
If you read any of the blogs in our Flock network, you KNOW that we are supremely skilled at social graces, so there goes that part of the stereotype:
Out of the nine or so Flock members at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, only a few of us had ever met in real life. By the end of that first day, we were BFF's.
Stodgy? Sure, whatever. Bite me.
(Tim, playing KILLER COWBELL with the Swinging Orangutangs)
(Oh, wait! We aren't supposed to have fun or like rock 'n' roll! Stop it, Tim!!)
For every stereotype you throw at me, I can and will throw back an exception.
So what makes a stereotype worth a damn??? Even the "good" ones?
Stop being weak and lazy by using stereotypes. You can be better than that.
And while I am all fired up, I will say this, too...and the people who I am speaking to?
You know who you are.
When I was a phlebotomist, I would talk about my patients, or funny things that happened at the lab. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.
When I was a direct care specialist for adults with mentally retardation, I would talk about my residents, or funny things that happened at the home. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.
When I was the manager and technician for a medical office, I would talk about my patients or funny things that happened at the office. And you enjoyed those stories. And you thought my job had value.
NOW that I am an educator for a raptor rescue, I talk about my birds, or funny things that happen at the center. And you mock me. And you derisively call me "Bird Lady". And you think my job has no value.
I have a few words to say to that:
I am a Human Perch for some of the world's most beautiful creatures.
I have learned to excel at opening the sky of knowledge and passion for thousands of people.
I have found work that completes me,
...that lights me up inside, like a light bulb behind my eyes,
...I look forward to getting up ever day and doing my job,
...a job that I am very good at, a job that makes my heart overflow every single time I do it.
And you are jealous of that.
So I'm sorry you can't handle that you hate your job and dread getting up every morning.
But don't take it out on me. I'm one of the lucky ones.
And you can kiss my ass.