most cinema examples of geeks, the guy wears glasses and a pocket
protector, dabbles in all things electronic, and repels women like
water off the back of a duck. A girl geek likely has mousy hair,
braces, and enough social awkwardness to make you squirm in your seat
as you watch.
Thanks to psychology and
personality testing, we’ll look at a few character trait generalities
that you might want to include in your book.
1) Reason Trumps Emotion
Most geeks are systematic
thinkers. They analyze all problems logically, looking for previous
rules or guidelines. Usually, they are intellectually gifted but
socially lacking. The social arena is emotional and nonrational,
therefore uncomfortable and more likely to be avoided. Since that’s the
case, their social skills won’t be honed for lack of use, making them
awkward and stunted emotionally.
2) Penchant for Gadgetry
The latest technology is a
must-have. These are the people who wait in line for the newest iPhone.
You call them for technological help because nine times out of ten,
they will know the answer to get you out of your pinch. Their office
space might be cluttered with gadgets and the wires that come with
them, but they know where everything is because it’s organized chaos.
3) Competitive for
Being smarter than others is
important for geeks. This intelligence doesn’t necessarily have to be
technology based, either. For example, an architect geek might try
drafting the most complex plans. A marketing geek might trump everyone
else’s strategy with a stellar campaign idea. You get the picture. They
want to be smarter, because with increased smarts comes increased
recognition, which is the ultimate aim.
These stereotypical descriptions
only scratch the surface, however. There’s always room to spice things
up, because geeks aren’t as cut-and-dried as you might think. No one
is, which is why I like Adichie’s quote above so much.
Romance can’t happen in a
vacuum. There has to be social interaction—even if it is awkward—for
romance to bloom. The following suggestions will help alter a geek’s
social arena to such that romance is feasible.
Your Geek Undergo
Keene State College psychologist
Lawrence Welkowitz found that geeks could overcome their social
awkwardness with concentration and repetition. He knows this because he
runs a peer-mentoring program where cool kids take their nerdier
classmates under their tutelage to give them tips on how to be popular.
If geeks approach social interactions in the same way they would binary
code, they can succeed in overcoming this deficit. Conversational
templates exist for everything from dating to job interviews. If they
study these templates, the rules of socialization are quick to follow.
Have Your Geek Join a
Geeks tend to stay in their own
world most of the time, which is what makes romance hard. Perhaps you
don’t want to “mainstream” your fictional geek, so you can offer him or
her a subculture built around his or her particular geek hobby or
interest. For a really great example, Star Trek fans—Trekkies—go to
conventions where they have social interactions with others from their
world. And yes, they can meet people of the opposite sex, fall in love,
and have Trekkie weddings. It happens.
Make Your Savvy
Socialite a Covert Geek
Turn the stereotype on its head
and create a highly capable, socially apt character a covert geek,
with nerdy interests he or she keeps on the down low, or unusual
interests that take all his or her free time. The challenge with
romance in a scenario with a geek like this would likely be a battle of
intellects (see #3 above).