We all know the familiar childhood refrain “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” It’s a nice thought and ultimately we shouldn’t let others define us by a label or a word. On the other hand, as human beings, we are the only species that can impart a thought or an emotion in another person simply by the words we say to each other. Simply stated, words have meaning. It’s part of the human condition.
But what about when the same word has different impact for different people? In some of our ads, we use the term “band geek.” While it’s not on our website or our packaging, we have used it on and off for many years with little to no negative feedback. However, a recent comment on one of our Facebook ads was sharply critical of us for using a word that, in the opinion of this person, was “degrading” and “demeaning.” Others chimed in and said it was an “honor to be one.”
I consider myself a proud band geek and there are many people who even use the term in some form for their online names. And yes, you see it on T-shirts at band related events all the time. These days, to “geek out” on something just means you are really into a particular topic and you love talking about it with other people. And “computer geeks” have been around for decades and one prominent computer store even calls their service people “Geek Squad”® meaning, these people are experts and really good at what they do.
Labeling any group of people sometimes leads to arguing and not discussion. What do you think? Is “geek” offensive? What about “jock” for athletes or “nerd” for high academic achievers? Clearly, there are many inflammatory words one can use for any ethnic group or tribe of people that go way past the bounds of common decency. And some of those words become adopted by the very same target group as a way of taking control and lessening the words power. Is that what happened with “band geek?” Is it generational? Is there a regional difference? Leave a comment below or you can comment here on our Facebook page. But please, be kind with the words you choose!