Geeks! Stop treating technology like fashion

30 Mar

bartI remember 20-odd years ago when, as an impressionable high schooler, all I wanted was a Bart Simpson “Don’t have a cow, man” t-shirt. Was it because, even early on, The Simpsons already demonstrated multi-generational appeal and a potential for longevity that no other television show had ever achieved? No.

I wanted one because Matt Crawford, the cool kid in school, had one. Matt was a trend setter. Boasting boyish handsomeness, uncompromising athletic talent and a flair with the ladies, Matt was the guy we all wanted to be. So we emulated him as best we could. My problem was that once I finally got my Bart Simpson t-shirt, Matt had already moved on to the next cool thing. Or if, by chance, he hadn’t, my wearing it signified something abhorrent to cool kids everywhere – the geeks had caught on. Death to Bart and all things Simpsons.

So here we sit, 20 years later and the tables have turned slightly. I, having studied hard, having stayed out of trouble and having worked my butt off, am now enjoying the fruits of my labor (as geeks do). While Matt, who dropped out of college to surf, party and meet girls, is now working at Kinkos and wondering where his hair went. But I digress.

What my point is, is that now it’s chic to be geek. Geeks control so much of what’s going on in the world, including the development and popularity of new online tools, like Twitter,, Digg, Flickr, etc. But after reading a recent article that touted the demise of Twitter, I felt a twinge of something I hadn’t felt in some time – it was the feeling that the cool kids had moved on.

Somehow Twitter has become Ugg boots. In today. Out tomorrow.

I think geeks get so obsessed with the latest and greatest because it defines them. To be using something that no one has ever heard of before makes you more of a geek. And when the world catches up, your mere affiliation with it somehow diminishes your identity (much like being caught with leg warmers on while not appearing in a Flashdance revival). So I have some advice for all geeks out there:

Instead of divorcing yourself from a tool like Twitter because of its rising popularity, why don’t you work hard on making it a better tool. Then we can all take a breath, learn more and focus on making our lives better through it, instead of rushing off in an ADD torrent towards the next trend du jour with the fleeting hope that it will define us.

After all, isn’t that what Matt would do?


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