A missing isolation of geekdom

It's such a pleasure to have friends here. I do still sometimes wish that all of my friends lived in one place. It would mean that the times between talks such as these would not be so long and so quiet. Instead I find myself the occasional Gertrude Stein of the geek community, bringing them together and letting contacts go as they may.

To quote Stein, we geeks are ourselves something of a lost generation. We are geographically isolated from each other, yet depend on our electronic boxes for our socialization, our information, our friendships, our world. We are minorities in every community, and the majority in a few shockingly-priced communities that are out of the reach of those of us bright enough to master our trades but not to be the shockingly brilliant wunderkind that brings out the mega-funding from corporate America.

Most of us grow up and enter adulthood with a long-ingrained sense of isolation. We hold on to the few "geeks like us" that we find, seeing them at trade shows and seminars, trading hardware and software stories like war stories of old. We brandish our Dilbert-ness and find some comfort in the fact that at last, we are not the only ones like ourselves. We joke about cube farms, disinterested management, server meltdowns, doing tech support for the unwashed masses.

Many of us feel more allegiance to our 'geek community' than we do the communities we live in. We know the regular posters on geek-related weblogs like slashdot and kuro5hin better than we do the people who live in the next apartment or next house over from us.

The 'geek community' is a community at arm's-length, to be dabbled in, joined, or enthusiastically preached however each person sees fit.

Oddly enough, we—the jeans-wearing, body-pierced, caffeine-guzzling, technophile geek community appear to be the future of this country: a future that means fewer porches and more disposable screen names. More net-space friendships struggling to make the leap to meat-space friendships. More lives resembling distributed computing; small, isolated nodes that, when joined, create an interpersonal tracery the likes of which have never been seen before. We come together as a cohesive economy, yet, unless something drastic changes, we will never leap the cubicle walls and truly function together as a community.

Many of us were the outcasts. We always said that it would great to see a day where the geeks finally had the power to change the world. A day that did not belong to the suits and the salesmen, but to the people who got down to the guts of things and made them work.

We created that world, and now we have to live with the aftermath. Either way, we are the future. Whether to be exhilarated or terrified is totally up to you.