An unfortunate geek stereotype is that of the awkward loser who is so socially inept that he (always a he) can barely even talk to someone of the opposite sex, much less ever get a date with one. In recent years, with the rise of geek culture, this insulting stereotype has been proven wrong time and time again.
However, that doesn’t mean some of us don’t still need a little help sometimes. It became evident that dating was still very much of interest in the geek world, by the fact that, before the room was open, the line for the panel stretched around the corner, all the way down the hall, then all the way back up the hall on the other side. The line contained plenty of people of all genders and all different backgrounds and orientations, all drawn together by the prospect of meeting other people who share their geeky interests.
To help us meet as many people as possible, we played a game of Geek Bingo. Each of us was given a sheet of paper with 25 squares, each containing some geeky qualification: things like “Owns a Game of Thrones beer glass,” or “Has a Firefly or Babylon 5 T-Shirt.” We then went around and talked to one another to find someone who fit each of these categories and get them to sign in the appropriate box. Periodically throughout the game, Dino would cut in on the microphone to offer geek dating tips, which were both helpful and amusing. (“Be complimentary, but not creepy. Tell a girl, ‘I like your Firefly shirt,’ not ‘I like your boobs.’”)
I found myself signing quite a bit for “Has attended Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas” and “Has seen all of the original Battlestar Galactica series.” I also met a lot of great people, both men and women, and got into some great conversations about all kinds of geeky things. For those who were able to fill in an entire row (and, later, the entire sheet) with signatures, there were prizes, but for me, at least, those were inconsequential. Rather than running around to get as many signatures as possible, I tried to spend some time talking to the people signing my sheet, finding out the story behind it, and who they were as people. I met some pretty cool people this way.
Even taking your time and not caring about “winning,” though, it can still be difficult to make a connection in that rather chaotic atmosphere. A number of people stopped to "Friend" one another on Facebook before moving on to the next signature. I, unfortunately, don’t have an Internet-connected mobile device with which I can do that, so the cute redhead with a comic-themed t-shirt and a badge reading only “Guest” will remain forever a stranger.
That’s okay, though. I’ve been going to the SGLA mixers on and off since Dina first started holding them, and I learned a long time ago that if you go in “looking for love,” you’re just setting yourself up for failure. It’s not about that. It’s about meeting people, connecting with people, and having a good time in the geek community.
In the interview that I conducted with Dina after the panel, she told me that what makes a geek is passion. Whatever you’re passionate about, that’s your geekdom. By extension, SGLA is about finding people who share those passions and connecting with them. A lot of geeks, myself in particular, do tend to be somewhat socially awkward, sometimes around the opposite sex, and sometimes just around people in general. Finding people who share your passions, though, helps to dissolve that awkwardness. When you’re with people who “get” you, you can open up a lot more easily and make real, meaningful connections with people.
If one of those connections leads to love and a relationship, great. For a number of people in SGLA, it’s done just that. For me, I’m still a single geek, but through the meet-ups and hangouts, I’ve managed to connect with a bunch of amazing people and make a number of great friends, both male and female. And, those friendships that I’ve forged and that sense of real belonging within the geek community are, for me, what SGLA is all about.