Jun. 25th, 2013

At Adacamp, I found myself feeling that Asperger behaviours and personality traits were being conventionally dissed, in a low grade way, both in themselves and as components of "geek culture". In particular, the pejoratives "poor social skills" and "low emotional IQ" are thrown at Aspies at least as often as "thin-skinned" is thrown at feminists, but while my use of the third of these netted me (polite) criticism and educational input, the other two were clearly subculturally acceptable.

One of the most pleasant aspects of true geek culture is that no one, ever, throws the first two pejoratives around. Social skills are irrelevant to important matters, like talking about the latest geek toys, participating in a project together, or reviewing someone's work. There are certainly inappropriate ways to do these things, which may themselves draw criticism, but the criticism is generally specific, just like criticism of a piece of code. "Saying 'that sucks' wasn't useful; give us some specifics". "That content-free stream of insults could have been usefully summarized as 'I don't like you'." Or perhaps you get a lengthy critique demonstrating why the generic pejoratives used are not in fact accurate, relevant, or useful. Or someone responds to your response by pointing out all your grammatical and spelling errors. The worst things you can say about a geek's contributions are "that's not true" and "that won't work". Saying things about the geek themself is neither welcome nor relevant, in general. Or it's another topic to explore, generally without malicious intent.

There are ways for geeks to insult each other, but the target is generally someone's competence, and the criticism has to (attempt to) demonstrate that incompetence, not allege it. And incompetence, unlike many other traits is presumably temporary, unless of course there's a bad track record.

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