Geek Girls Rule! #369 – When the Geek Social Fallacies do Good

First, I want to congratulate the Card Castle folks for hitting their funding goal! Congrats, guys! I’m so happy for you!!!!!
Next, and this is a very elegantly crafted segue, I assure you, I want to talk about what about the Geek Social Fallacies makes them so hard to jettison when they fuck it up for us.
Kickstarter is actually a pretty good example of the good that those impulses that inform the Geek Social Fallacies can do. I have, in fact, supported thing, mostly games, that I had little interest in because good people were behind them. There’s a reason that they offer the option to refuse your backer rewards, and that they have the smaller bids that do not get rewards.
I witnessed and was part of another this weekend. A friend moved into town and the local indie games community rallied around her to make sure she had all the things she needed and to welcome her to the city. So, not everything about the genesis of the Geek Social Fallacies is awful. Those impulses come from a good place.
#1 – Ostracizers are Evil. Yeah, I see where this comes from. A lot of geeks, nerds, what have you, were bullied, picked on, outcasts in school. So out of school, we want to be the opposite of the people who made our lives miserable. We strive to include people who might not otherwise get a chance to do a thing.
The downside is that sometimes people need to be ostracized. People who hurt other people, racists, misogynists… Sometimes being shoved out of a friend group is the only catalyst that will work for these folks. As long as everyone keeps them around in spite of hitting/raping their girlfriends, using racist epithets, calling women bitches, they have zero impetus to change.
#2 – Friends Accept me as I am. The good in this one comes from the fact that nerd culture doesn’t expect you to go on a diet, buy a designer wardrobe or have a hot car for acceptance. All good things. It’s from this place that geek culture will become truly inclusive, once it quits taking this too fucking far and simultaneously selectively engaging in it. .
The downside is that this acceptance is often not extended to women, queer folk and POC. Gatekeeping is pretty much the diametric opposite of this fallacy, but they don’t see it. And again, see the downside of #1. Sometimes you really should change an odious behavior, especially if it is something you CAN change, like not using racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic or transphobic language. Or, you know, not raping people.
#3 – Friendship Before All. Hey, everyone needs a friend who can/will drop everything to bail them out in extreme circumstances. I have a friend who took me in twice when my family kicked me out. I have been that friend who gets up in the middle of the night to come get someone because they were stranded, or someone died. This is a very laudable impulse at it’s core.
The downside is that you have a lot of people who will literally interpret this as before “ALL” including their jobs, their families, their own well-beings… And to people like this, when you start enforcing boundaries with them, boundaries they may have applauded you setting with other people and/or family, they will lose their shit at you for not being a true friend. I have been on the receiving end of this before. I also used to be the friend who put everyone else’s well-being above mine. It has taken several years of therapy and positive reinforcement by the Geek Husband What Rules to get and keep me not doing that anymore.
#4 = Friendship is Transitive. So, I see where the good in this starts. “I like person X. If person X likes person Y, then odds are good I will also like person Y.” This is how friend groups form. A bunch of like-minded people find each other, often by being introduced by an extant member of a group, and it’s awesome. This is why new geeks to town who may only know one or two people from the internet, or who come to work with local geeks can make friends and find community.
The problem comes when people expect this to be true of everyone in every situation. Now the guy who wrote the article uses the example of people asking for really inappropriate shit from people they barely know because they tangentially know each other. The other problem comes from when that friend who believes in this fallacy, stubbornly refuses to see that two or more of their acquaintances don’t like one another.
And a further issue comes when you combine this one with #1 and #2, because you think A is a good guy, he can’t possibly have raped/hit B. “Why can’t B drop what was obviously just a misunderstanding so we can all stay friends?” If B refuses, they will be labeled an Ostracizer, and they will be slowly cold-shouldered out of the group. Not Ostracized mind you, but there will never be a party that they are invited to where A is not also invited. It’s pushing someone out while saying you’re including everyone.
#5 – Friends do Everything Together. At its most basic, this is great. Many things are better if you can do them with a group of friends: gaming, movies, spa nights. This is the impulse that gets people to invite new friends along to activities they may never have engaged in before.
However, I’m going to admit, I still have a little bit of problem with the downside of this myself. Sometimes I’ll see where one of my friends groups did something where I wasn’t invited, and I get a little mopey about it. Granted, I tend to keep that shit to myself. And also I frequently find out I was invited, just on Facebook, which I don’t really keep up on. Some people do lose their shit when they find out that they weren’t invited, even if it’s something they HATE. Or someone they hate is part of the organizers. Or, ‘Look, my asshole boyfriend won’t not invite the guy who hit you, so I thought it was better to save you from having to say no.”
In that last case, said friend should probably dump the asshole boyfriend.
So, yes, the Geek Social Fallacies come from a good place, but when engaged in uncritically, they tend to really fuck things up for a lot of people. It’s ok to not socialize with people who hurt and abuse others. It is perfectly all right to say that you will not game with that dude who keeps putting his hands on you, even though you’ve told him several times not to touch you. It is ok to not sacrifice your health, job or other relationships to bail out a friend.
But if you drill down to the good place those fallacies emerge from, and try to keep those in mind, you can build beautiful, inclusive geek communities that support and engage one another.
Try to do that second thing, ok?
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