You Shouldn’t Do the Things Geeks Say You Should

Like every other geek, I get wrapped up in the possibilities that technology offers.

I get lost in the gee-whiz and the whiz-bang.

I blow hours playing with new gadgets and apps just to see what they do, or how they behave.

Then my imagination ignites and I figure out how these things might actually be useful.

Inspired by my new discoveries (and the endorphins of geek play), I am then driven to evangelize.

I head out into the streets (okay, I really just fire up my web browser) with my loudspeaker in hand (aka my Twitter account).

“You should buy an iPhone because…”

It’s at that moment, with the full force of the human side of my DNA, that I have to stop my geekself.

Justin Bieber might be all about, “never say never!”

But my own personal, much less glamorous, mantra is: “never say should.”

(Imagine the purple-hoodied geek on stage before a crowded amphitheatre, leading the chant: “Never. Say. Should!” Doesn’t really work, does it?)

Geeks have a hard time avoiding this word: should.

We love to tell normal people what kind of gear they should be using, or what app they should be downloading. Oh, we love dispensing advice in absolute terms.

Because it’s inherent in the geek psyche to always know what’s right and true.

After all, doesn’t our inestimable expertise makes it so?

We’re just so darn smart and know so much about this tech stuff that we absolutely, without a doubt, no two ways about it, understand how the world should work.

Armed with our complete awareness of everything that is right, and compelled by our selfishly altruistic inclinations, we view ourselves as belonging to a exclusive sect of techno-prophets.

And as such, we are not only compelled, but verily required to drive you heathen techno-phobes towards the gadgets and apps that you should be using.

And if you question us or don’t immediately understand the deep need we think you have for these Amazing New Things, we’ll just roll our eyes and sigh at you.

So when you hear a geek utter the term “should”, that’s an alert.

Run away.

Or at the very least, scoff.

Because it means the geek has lost touch with the core method of technology in society: to resolve recognized problems.

And when he uses should, it means the geek has found a solution.

It’s just unlikely that there was ever a problem that required it.

So he’s probably going to manufacture one for you.

Don’t be too hard on us geeks, though.

We’re defined by that classic forest-for-the-trees conundrum.

We get so wrapped up in the cooloooaaaaw qualities of technology that we forget the big picture.

We geeks need to learn how to curb our enthusiasm.

We need to remember that people only want umbrellas on a rainy day.

In other words, we need to learn to focus on what you normal people need to solve your problems, rather than obsess over what we believe you should do or have.

Then again, you aren’t really helping us any.

In fact, you’re enabling our psychosis.

Quit treating us like we hold sacred knowledge just because we can troubleshoot a PC!

Okay, it is sacred knowledge, but you don’t have to act like it is.

Just be cool. Act like we made a salad or mowed the lawn.

Because, really, the way it is now, you’re just egging us on.

Geeks are generally an insecure bunch (hence our false bravado), so your admiration takes the edge off our self-loathing.

And we feed on that.

So of course we’re going to crave more and tell you that you should do things you shouldn’t do.

Because hen we can rescue you from crises of our own making and become heros in your eyes.

It’s a feedback loop. Don’t you get it yet?

The next time a geek tells you that you should do something, back away and wonder why.

Question our credibility, and insist that we explain ourselves.

(We might cry or get venomous, but ignore all that. It’s just our way of dealing with conflict.)

Except for me. You should follow all of the instructions I scribe here.

And on that point, you should buy an iPhone.

Really, you should.

Yeesh, don’t ask me why. Just go buy one.

Okay, fine, don’t. (Sniffle.)

Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, June 17, 2011.