2008 was the year that showed why geeks, dorks, dweebs, nerds, weirdos and poindexters such as ourselves have come to rule the world. It is because of the economic power granted by our chosen professions, which are so crucial that even the 2008 recession couldn’t slow us down. This was the year that demonstrated how and why geeks have conquered the world. The eight years since have shown what we’re doing with the world now that it’s ours.
Geeks Get Rich
As The Guardian points out, being a geek is a sign of education, and in the current savage job market, hitting the bricks with a degree, a DIY attitude, and a head on your shoulders counts for a lot. In addition to having a nerdy pedigree increasing your likelihood of having a job, geek jobs pay more. As this chart shows choosing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field will result in higher pay, even if one gets less education.
And we all know that STEM is practically a synonym for geek. Those increased wages are growing the geek community.
Wages Post-2008: Up for Geeks, Down for the Rest
The recession of 2008 made these differences even more pronounced. As one blogger put it, “From a social Darwinist perspective, nerds are the most ‘fit’ for success in the post-2008 era.”
Department of Commerce projections bear that prediction out. Jobs in STEM fields are predicted to grow much more rapidly than other fields, meanwhile manufacturing still hasn’t recovered from the recession. Worse yet for Joe Average, overall wages have fallen 0.1% since the recession, so even workers who are lucky enough to have jobs have less money to spend.
But wages for professional geekery like programming, science, and engineering? Up since the recession, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics project they will continue to grow through 2022.
To put it terms of a raunchy 1980s comedy, a few of the jocks from Revenge of the Nerds got laid off in 2008, and haven’t found a job since. Others have seen their wages stagnate even as costs of everyday goods rise. Meanwhile, Lewis just sold his tech startup, bought a third home on the coast of British Columbia, and pilots his private jet to it on the weekends. Booger is a middle manager who is so crucial to the running of a mining corporation that he can’t be fired despite his blood-curdling personal habits.
The Geek Renaissance
And what are we geeks doing with our newfound economic power? We are using it to reshape culture in our image.
We are attending conventions like a boss.
New York Comic Con may now be the largest geek convention in North America. It nearly tripled in size between 2008 and 2015, with a record-setting 150,000 attendees. San Diego Comic Con regularly fills its venue to capacity and even smaller nooks of the geek lifestyle have seen explosive growth. Gen Con, the largest role-playing and tabletop convention in the world, saw its attendance double since the recession, to a stunning 61,423 in 2015.
We are reading comics like it’s our job.
The comic industry generated $935 million in 2014, a twenty year high. Furthermore, the audience for comics is expanding. There has been an influx of adult women and young people of all genders into the comics industry, driving an interest in non-superhero comics.
We are buying tabletop games. Lots and lots of games.
Since 2009, the hobby gaming industry’s growth has been outperforming the Gross Domestic Product. ICV2 recently proclaimed a seventh straight year of growth in the hobby gaming industry, with the market growing 20% in just the last year. Hobby gaming is now an $880 million a year industry, and even famously anemic role-playing grew at a shocking 67% in 2013.
There is more of course. There’s the rise of superhero movies, and an increase in the number and popularity of geek themed websites. (Click here for one example.)
All this demonstrates something all of us already knew in our bones. We geeks are winning, and we are making the world cooler, nerdier, and more imaginative. It is a strange fate, for those of us who grew up in less enlightened times, to see the conquest and dominance by the geek.
Do you think geeks have conquered the world? Let us know in the comments below.
Feature image courtesy Disney/Marvel
Special thanks to Trish Pettinati.