The art of fangirling: What it means to be a true geek

This article is probably some kind of expansion on my homegirl Emily’s article “A definition of geek.”


“What is means to be a true geek? Stewie, dear God, please tell me you aren’t here to tell us how and why to geek. Could you be anymore presumptuous?”

Before your hackles get raised too high, and you knock down my door shouting “KILL THE BEAST” with pitchforks in hand, read this post. I’m not the entitled geek-shamer that the title may lead you to believe.

Geek doesn’t start in grade school for everyone, but we can see how the subculture of a typical high school has made the fangirl to feel ashamed of what they are. The noogies and wedgies weren’t reserved for the jocks or cheerleaders, oh no – they were given to the “geeks” – the nerds, the otaku, the academics, the Sci-Fi club, the theatre kids. And yet geeks today still treat other geeks of certain fandoms, or of no particular fandoms, with disrespect or even disdain.

geekschool

At Setsucon this weekend, I met so many genuine people. So many people who were in an environment that made them feel comfortable enough to be their true selves. Yes, some of them may have been considered a little bit socially awkward, obnoxious, or child-like. But the truth of it was, what some may take as being “socially awkward” was really just a fearless attempt to try to meet strangers who shared the same passions in a short 2-day span. What might be mistaken by some as being “obnoxious” was really just a boistrous excitement for a fandom. That their “child-like” attitude was them expressing themselves in a way that was unhindered by doubt. None of them held back in expressing what they loved, and why. They were being true to their geek selves. And it was glorious, and beautiful. But… it’s not always easy, and not all fandoms are necessarily created geek-qual.

geekchartbig
This chart, while hilarious, probably makes certain furry people feel like crap.

Yes, sometimes geeks shame other geeks. In the proverbial high school of geeks, comic book fans are giving LARPers swirlies, and Trekkies are giving Furries slushie facials. How can they call themselves geeks, when they know the stereotypes, and the way that the strange subculture of high school has made it hard for people who love something to feel comfortable expressing that love?

furries
Totally fluffy and loveable. Via aceofgeeks.blogspot.com

To be a fangirl, or fanboy, is to embrace something, ANYTHING, without fear of being shamed for it. And that goes both ways, for the taboo, and not so taboo. Maybe “furry fandom” is something that’s hard for people to understand, but it’s just as legitimate as any other fandom. Hell, you can fangirl about normal things too! Coffee, the stock market, football, Bieber, celebrity gossip, fashion, or nail polish. Things that weren’t always wedgie-worthy, YES, you can geek out about them. As Emily puts it in “A definition of geek“, a geek can geek out over anything they want to geek about. When you finally coming to grips with what you truly love and who you truly are, then you too can fangirl.

pizza

You can definitely be a pizza geek.

People can have things that they like, but the fangirl comes out when you’re not afraid to be in a giant roomful of people and squeal excitedly about whatever it is that you love. It’s going to a convention with people who are being true to themselves, and being your true self right along with them. It’s that child-like enthusiasm of Christmas morning coming out all over again. It’s singing songs loudly and hoping others join in, without being ashamed. It’s dancing because you’re so excited that you don’t know how to express it other than to wiggle and jiggle your booty. It’s making a high pitched “Eeeee” noise like a “Woo girl” because you’re just so thrilled about something that you might explode if you don’t express it somehow.

Excited-Kids-Christmas-06

I guess a little anecdote is in order. I have a younger sister, named Natalie, or Noot Spoot. She’s 27, but she’ll always be 5 to me. And Natalie has always been a fangirl. She loves Disney, heart and soul. She unashamedly loved it as a child, she loved it through high school, and she continues to love it to this day. I was more jaded. I couldn’t fully embrace my love of Disney until I was an adult, even though I adored Disney as a kid and still loved it. When I was in high school, I felt like Disney was, well, for kids… and couldn’t really bring myself to say, “Yes, I’m not a little kid, but I freaking biddidy bobbidy love Disney.” Seeing my adult sister continue to express her unashamed love of Disney is what inspired me to finally come out of the “fangirl closet” and embrace something I always felt too silly or ashamed to really embrace.

disney-princesses

When I was finally able to say that I was going to love what I wanted to love, no matter what society might think about it – including Disney, which I had my own personal misconceptions about – that was when my true self was born. I began to surround myself with people who wouldn’t shame me for it, and who would encourage any and all geeks to geek about whatever it was they wanted to geek about – be it little kids’ cartoons, costumes, coffee or Christmas. You can geek out about anything if you aren’t afraid to reveal your love for it loudly, and without being afraid of getting a slushie to the face.

It’s very possible that I’ve made it sound like to be a true geek or fangirl, you must be EXCITED about something. That, I think is true, but perhaps you express it in a different way. I’m ENFP after all, and I tend to throw glitter at everyone and everything! I get excited, and sometimes I need to be calmed down a little bit. Some of you out there are not boisterous, loud, excitable types – and yes – you still fangirl. So to introverts and less squealy types, I leave you with this: As long as you express your love of whatever you love however you want to express it, without being afraid, then yes – you geeked it good.

The true geek of today is now the one who is unashamed of their love of whatever it is that they love, and they don’t shame others for their loves either. They scream, dance, squeal, and get real giddy over stuff. They accept the furries and the Beliebers. They are not going to let you dip their head in the toilet anymore, oh no – they are geek, hear them roar.

beavis

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  • +1 for the Beavis and Butthead gif.

    One of the most baffling things I’ve ever encountered are “geek gatekeepers”. It’s harmful and unnecessary. Let people enjoy what they enjoy!

  • Nice post! I too find it sad and shameful when geeks put down fellow geeks. We should all embrace each other, no matter the nerdy passion and love…and encourage others to find their obsession too!

  • I love this post. Beautifully written. Those poor furries need love, too. I think I might OVER-love them, though. I’m all “HELLO GIANT PLUSHIE. COME OVER HERE. CAN I HAVE A PHOTO? CAN I HAVE A HUG?” People in mascot costumes? Love them. Some people think it’s creepy they can’t see the real person; I think the real person has just BECOME something softer and more fun. (Alas, I am not a furry myself. I just think they’re adorable.)

    • We are totally twins in this regard. I LOVE furries (though I admit, I was confused when I first found out what they were…) but I LOVE to hug them! Costumed mascots are big alive stuffed animals!!!!!!!!! I am so bad at Disney world… I HUG THEM ALL!!!!

  • Well put! Love it!

  • SunnyBunny

    Well written….I did enjoy it very much. I also have a furaffinity and always have in various stages.
    I had a similar conversation with a friend of mine, they said they were more nerd then geek. Which is fine – but they know who they are.
    But sadly like everything there are those who choose to police such things – based on gender and race. I am a POC and a female. It has left me out in the cold more then I would like.
    But its also had me wondering if I was geeky enough. But your writing is positive and I thank you for writing it. (may have to link it to my own blog – which is very sparse right now – lol)

  • THIS DEFINITELY WAS WORTH THE READ!!! You did a wonderful job describing geekdom. <3

  • I’ve never understood the extreme hate on furries. I always thought the fact that some of them handmade their costumes was a sign of super dedication, and, something to be lauded.

  • I love this post. I wish that geeks would stop hating on each other. We’re all into our fandoms because we love them wholeheartedly.

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  • nerdyninjapaige

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into words! There is no reason for geeks to be rude to each other because let’s face it, on the inside, we are all just that: geeks. And I love how you described the fangirl feeling. I am an introvert but you wouldn’t be able to tell when I talk about my fandoms!

  • StaffSergeant

    You have me wondering ;
    I it possible by your philosophy to rank historical re-enactment among the geeks, or does that remain with nerddom ?

    • It’s pretty nerdy – but I think if you’re into it for the costumes, re-creating food, and other ridiculous extravagances, it breeches geek territory via the RP/cosplay vein. I would think of it this way – if you’re super obsessed with history, it’s nerdy – if you begin to BECOME history by getting into the mindset via role-playing – it’s totally bridging the gap to geeky :3