Geek culture thrives online and off as 100K expected at Calgary Expo

They’ve found their voices and a community to share and they’re not going anywhere, and this weekend about 100,000 of them will come together at the Calgary Expo.

They’ve found their voices and a community to share and they’re not going anywhere

From left: David Tennant of Doctor Who, characters from The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek icon George Takei are just a handful of superstar geeks that some say have paved the way for others. (The Associated Press)

They've found their voices and a community to share and they're not going anywhere, and this weekend about 100,000 of them will come together at the Calgary Expo.

They identify as geeks, but that term has evolved.

"Geeks are people who feel very passionately about the things that they love," Sam Maggs told Alberta@Noon on Wednesday.

Sam Maggs is a video game designer and author of The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks. (Submitted by Sam Maggs)

Maggs is a video game designer and author of The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks. She joined the official mascot of the Calgary Expo, Lindsay Thomas (aka Emily Expo), and listeners to share their thoughts on the mainstreaming of geek culture.

"Frankly, I think that's the most exciting way to live," Maggs said.

"It's great to get really emotionally invested in things like comic books, movies and TV shows. Everybody is a really hardcore fan of something."

But Thomas says geekdom manifests itself in a variety of ways.

"People celebrate their fandom and passions in a different way. For some people that means putting months and months and months into a cosplay and for others it can be quietly curled up in a chair reading a book," Thomas said.

"That uniqueness is part of what makes it beautiful."

Lindsay Thomas is the official mascot of the 2018 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo and a huge geek. (Submitted by Lindsay Thomas)

And one's first experience in the world of geek can be unique as well, Maggs said.

"A lot of people can probably relate to Star Wars or Star Trek as their entrance into the geek world. For me, mine was actually Stargate, the third 'star' show," she said.

"There are so many different ways to get into it now. There is no right way to be a fan, it's really personal and individual."

'Being a geek is in my DNA'

A listener from Millarville, Alta., however, says it was previous generations that paved the way for geek acceptance and it wasn't always easy.

"I grew up an electronics hobbyist in a small town and had my first job in a radio-TV shop at 12. In 1977 I bought my first computer, years before any such thing was being commercialized for 'public' consumption," Jonathan Levine wrote in an email.

"So being a geek is in my DNA. And if you think that being like this, a science nerd, came without all the punishments of a non-jock youth, you're deluded."

And he's a bit protective of the earned title.

"So back off. If you didn't earn it with a lifetime of outsider banishment, don't smear it on now," Levine said.

Maggs says things have changed for the better and that's a good thing.

"We should be so glad that being a geek doesn't mean you have to be maligned and feel terrible and go through those same hardships anymore," Maggs said.

"There is that acceptance for it now. If anything, it just means that there are more people out there to share the thing that you love with and isn't that a great thing?"

Thomas agrees.

"I am happy that my stepson is going to grow up in a world where he can be interested in these things and not be bullied for them," Thomas said.

"I want him to passionately love reading and different things without having to go through that ordeal."

Actor Ricardo Montalbán was Kathryn Jang's first crush. (www.startrek.com)

An older caller from Lethbridge says she's been a geek for decades.

"My first big crush was Ricardo Montalbán in the original series," Kathryn Jang said.

"This year I really, really wanted to go to Calgary Expo, mainly because I want to see Catherine Tate because I am also a Doctor Who geek, but I couldn't convince anyone to go with me."

Tate's appearance this year, however, was cancelled so Jang won't miss out on that opportunity.

"For myself, because I am a little older, my kids just think I am a total geek," Jang said with a laugh.

"I drag them to the Star Trek experience in Las Vegas. I made my husband go with me to TELUS Spark in Calgary and he just patiently follows me along."

'Just never talked about it'

Meanwhile, Maggs says when she first realized what she was, there was nobody to share it with.

"I just never talked about it," she said.

"I wasn't able to bond with anybody about the things that I liked. It wasn't until after I graduated college and moved to Toronto that I started to think, that it doesn't feel very good not being my most authentic self. If people around me don't like it, that's OK. Now the people in my life know me for exactly who I am and what I love and we share a lot of the same interests. It was a challenge to get to that point."

What does geek culture mean to you, and why do you think it's become so popular? Guests Sam Maggs and Lindsay Thomas join us to take your calls. 52:38


With files from Alberta@Noon