Editorial: Ladies, don’t do this to a geek!
Someone in my Twitter feed posted a link to this article on AMD’s website a few weeks back with a comment that “this is not a good way to get a geek boyfriend”. And I couldn’t agree more.
Before I forge ahead, however, I want to acknowledge a few things. AMD’s Corporate VP of Product Marketing, Leslie Sobon, wrote this article. She’s responsible for making sure that AMD’s products — like the graphics cards she suggests — get sold. A female marketing VP for a computer processor manufacturer is giving dating tips to women. I’m going to assume she has some decency and operates under the assumption that she offers this article in satire.
That being said. Ladies, I am a geek. Thaddeus is a geek. Many of the people I associate with are geeks. While that article might be satire, I have met a lot of ladies that make these (in my opinion) mistakes when dealing with geek gentlemen such as myself. So if we assume this is satire, let’s just use some of its approach and points as a basis for my reminders.
First, let’s talk in the light of Leslie’s introduction. Although it is a valid generalization that many geeks are a bit socially quirky, and even downright inept at times, geeks are, again generally, fairly complex people. Geeks analyze and contemplate. A lot, and about a lot of things. Sometimes it’s technology. Sometimes, because many geeks can have moments of ineptitude with ladies, they have a lot of time to observe people and couples. Generally speaking, geeks are not a simple lot. This tip overshadows a lot of other stuff: Get into a geek because you have a reason to, because there’s something about him that stimulates you in a considerable way. Never settle for a geek because he’ll be able to program the shit in your living room if all else fails. That will surely doom that relationship to failure. This should be obvious.
About learning the language. Ok, I don’t have a huge issue here. It’s good to learn about the interests of anyone you’re interested in trying to date or get to know on a deeper level. And it’s true that showing an interest in their interests is important. But focus on how your geek’s interests interest them. Take the time to learn why it makes him tick. And more importantly, be yourself. Eventually you’ll realize you don’t care about the language and you’ll inevitably slip into being yourself at some point. (You are being yourself, right?) And he may not like that real side of yourself that you’ve been hiding while changing your behavior to match your distorted view of what’s smart in his eyes.
About hanging out where he hangs out. If you are the kind of person that this article’s tone seems to be reaching out to…I suspect you’re going to be bored stiff at events like this. Hell, I’d be bored stiff at an overclocking event. Do people really have events for that? (Yes, apparently people do!) Ladies, if you pull him out of his social element with his friends just a little bit, pull yourself out of yours, and really get to know the guy, you’ll find something you can do together that meets in the middle that you both enjoy. Or…you won’t; it’s just not meant to be. Unless you are a geek woman who’s into those events as well, here’s what will quite likely occur: He will focus on the event and the activities as he knows how to. He will assume that since you are showing an interest in learning about this side of him — which is really an act about him — when in fact you’re probably doing it for yourself. He’s going to show you that side by behaving the way he normally does, to give you that experience. And you’re going to feel neglected. It goes downhill from there. Maybe you’ll express your feelings of neglect. So he’ll start to pay more attention to you. It’s going to be weird with his dynamics with his friends and associates. He’ll no longer be focused on what he came to do. It’ll be a mess. Again, this is a generalization. Maybe you’ll be able to work it out better than this. Short version: Be clear — to yourself, and to him — about why, your intention for wanting to participate in this aspect of his life.
About asking questions. The theory here seems to be that if you just ask buzzy questions that are on topic with his interests to simply sound interested that you’ll bring him out of his shell. And you will! And then you’ll traumatize him and waste your own time. This is elementary stuff, but I’ll spell it out: Don’t deceive. Be yourself. If you’re interested in the answer and the topic, ask away! If you’re really not interested, then don’t pretend to be. “…throw them into a conversation and then act interested when he answers.” This “advice” makes me shudder.
About gadgets and media. Alright, I’m actually mostly on bored with this. Part of me wants to agree with the statement about how bejeweled isn’t really a game. Just like part of me wants to scream that rap isn’t really music. But I’d be wrong, and so is Leslie. A geek will love that you are taking the time to involve yourself in his interests, even if it hasn’t traditionally been your thing. Especially if it’s just because you’ve never exposed yourself to it before. One of my favorite things to do is to take a girl and show her my favorite sci-fi, and observe the wonder on her face when she sees how awesome good sci-fi can be. Annnnd sometimes she hates it. That’s fine. I respect that she tried. Here’s the thing: Good on you for checking out his turn-ons. But don’t compromise your own interests. And don’t let his opinions make you feel like your interests are wrong. A game for him is Starcraft II but you can finagle those gems in Bejeweled like world-class thief. Guess what: your both in the right. Casual games are games, too. And shitty rap music is still music. Whether I like it or not.
About clothes. Again this one is really about you, not him. If you want a guy that can dress well and this geek is harshing your visual libido with his dirty jeans, loudly colored short-sleeve dragon button-down shirts, wrist warmers, flip-flops, Axe body spray (or eau de natural body funk), and whatever else he’s rocking…this isn’t the guy you want to date. If everything else is going awesome between you, you feel genuinely interested and invested in who he is, and this is feeling like a deal breaker? Sit him down for a heart-to-heart and explain your limits and what’s bothering you and why. Make it clear that you don’t expect or want him to change his appearance for you, but that it is something you are struggling with, and own that. If it’s important for him, he’ll consider some things. But it’s important for anyone to change for themselves. But if you have that big of an agenda to change someone, you really should just walk away. Find someone who’s a better, well-rounded match for you.
Finally in closing – yes I’m going to rail on the gift ideas. Sure, get him a gadget or a game or something from time to time. But don’t do it with…yes, that’s right…an agenda! Don’t do it because you want to keep him at home. Or quiet. Do it because you like to give a gift. And I’ll go one further: Consider giving him an experience. With you. Together. Spend time with him — really good time. Go to a spa and relax together. Take a daycation; maybe be trashy and shack up in a nice hotel room for the night. Experiences are often just as valued, or more valued, than a gift that will wear off anyways.
Leslie, I sincerely hope your article was satirical. Unfortunately there are many beautiful young ladies who might take this “advice” at face value. A lot of socially and romantically fragile geek men could get hurt, and these young ladies might continue to have a bad taste about geek gentlemen as a result. I encourage everyone to just be themselves. Don’t ever compromise your own interests and turn-ons to deceive another into liking you.
☸ ☸ ☸
Update: I did stumble across this other article that Leslie wrote later, on October 1st. There’s a blurb that references her Get A Geek article very briefly at the bottom — and the intent seems to be to introduce her fellow AMD peeps and not actually address her article — but she labels her Get A Geek article a satire.
First, if there was ever a geek who could turn my alarm clock into a venti soy latte it’s Brian Henry. Brian works in our performance lab (who is on my right in the photo here) with a team of guys who spend a lot of their day helping me do my job in marketing. He, along with my nephew Tom Tolworthy, a BIOS QA technician, were my inspirations for the satirical Get a Geek blog. And before I get in trouble with their significant others, let me clarify that I was really not trying to get them dates. Or anyone dates.
—Leslie Sobon, Welcome to My Blog
It doesn’t really acknowledge how it might effect or be perceived by anyone else that might read it, but I felt it prudent to post this tidbit as a follow-up.