As a subculture gains a measure of persistence it is inevitable that a generation gap will open. In some cases it may be minor such as the relative similarity between outdoors activities from fifty years ago and activities from today. Camping is still camping and hiking is still hiking even if the equipment has grown far more complex or sophisticated. In other cases, however, it can be said that a generational gap can make it very difficult for those on either side of it to communicate as each side lacks relevance to the other. Among geeks this can manifest as an argument between something that has become timeless and something that has lost its relevance. Look at Star Wars fandom and ask yourself what challenges may arise from a conversation between someone who was there in the theater in 1977 and someone whose introduction was not until the Clone Wars animated show? A more stark contrast may be between the two Captain Kirks, how do you compare Chris Pine to the great William Shatner?
These and many more questions prompted the co-organizer of N.E.R.D.S. to start up the meetup.com group P.O.G: Phoenix Older Geeks. The organization was started in March of this year by Misha the Organizer from the aforementioned group when she noticed the difference between the older and younger geek crowd, “[the older members] started their story with ‘back in my day’ or ‘that technology doesn’t exist anymore’… some seemed quite uncomfortable hanging out with 20-and-30-somethings.” Misha provides three simple questions as the qualifiers for entrance to P.O.G.:
1. Did you watch the original Star Trek series when it aired on NBC?
2. Were you in line to see the first Star Wars movie?
3. Remember when virtual reality was the next biggest thing?
“The key difference between an old geek and young geek with the same interest is age. A young geek can’t reminisce about the ‘Good Ol’ Days’ of being a geek. They don’t remember going to fan conventions to find people who had the same interest , having to go the LIBRARY to find books, or having to use punch cards with computers. They don’t remember how inaccessible the world use to be.”
The group has around 65 members and is continuing to grow. Much like other such specialized groups it seems that there is a demand for this ‘niche within a niche’ that seems to have less to do with specific age and more to do with old-school cred. These “classic geeks” are typically drawn the same kinds of activities that contemporary geeks enjoy, but without the pressure to compete with or explain things to a younger generation that may not be able to conceive of a world without Facebook it seems that Misha may be on to something. One of the difficulties with the group lies with Misha herself, “I am not an ‘Older Geek’, so I do get strange looks and questions when I show up to events,” she says, ” My future plan is to find a co-organizer that fits the demographic of the group.”
Read the full interview on the writer’s blog.