Embracing Enthusiasm - It's Hip To Be Square!

As I’ve slowly settled into being an adult, one major plus that I’d love to tell my younger self is that you get much more comfortable in your own skin – largely because you develop an apathy for life that makes you give less of a shit. And it’s pretty great. I noticed this more recently as I’ve started working in the industry I’ve so long admired as an ‘outsider’ and my manager loves to introduce me in the following manner:

‘This is Jordan. She used to run a theme park fan page and has ridden over 700 rollercoasters!’

Before, a younger me would have recoiled at this revelation – almost like a secret shame that has now been spewed forth into the world. Nooo! I’ve been outed, now they know, I’m a…a…an enthusiast.

Now however, I wear an air of arrogance around me when this fact is revealed. “Ha,” my inner monologue laughs to itself, “I bet you don’t even know the difference between a B&M Invert and a Vekoma SLC. Fools!” For you see, there’s a delicious smugness that comes part and parcel of being part of an enthusiast society.

We know things, secret things and intricate details about subjects the general public (as the normals are referred to in the coaster enthusiast-sphere) wouldn’t even begin to know exist. Nor do they care, of course but that doesn’t stop us swelling with a combination of arrogance and disgust when a member of the general public dares to have an opinion on our most sacred of subjects.

Oh, it can be annoying. As adults I feel that the group of fellow enthusiasts that I call friends are all extremely self-aware of what arrogant twats we are, and that somehow makes it more acceptable than the know-it-all fourteen year olds getting on their soapbox when some poor schmuk on Facebook is foolish enough to misidentify a coaster element. We groan and roll our eyes safe in the knowledge that we’ve thankfully grown out of that phase but part of us knows to leave him be because, well, we were all that kid once.

So it is largely due to growing up and caring a hell of a lot less, but it’s also due in part to the rise and mainstreamification of geek culture. Mediums such as YouTube giving the kids making weird fandom videos in their mum’s garage a platform along with popular shows like The Big Bang Theory means, for the first time ever, it’s cool to be a nerd.

We can now proudly proclaim our love for all kinds of weird and wonderful subcultures because, guess what, there’s probably a forum or YouTube channel for that and through these you’ll probably even be able to meet up with likeminded dorks from all over the country, even the world. And that is awesome as hell!

I grew up in a family obsessed with football. I mean every second of the day some sort of game was on TV and I always marvelled (and still do in fact) at my dad’s ability to turn any topic of conversation around to football. He knows everything inside and out, from player stats to game results from as early as the sixties to trivia – a true football enthusiast.

Why is this OK? (Source)

But this isn't?
And he’s not alone. Thousands of people have the same obsession with football, that for some reason is seen as socially acceptable. It is bizarre to me that something people have literally died over being so passionate about and is often associated with violence and scandal is deemed AOK by the masses yet when I reveal my not-so-secret hobby people find it odd and are often fascinated at how into the subject I am. Weird right?

So while it’s definitely becoming easier to embrace our slightly stranger passions what with the rise of the internet and the ‘outing’ of subcultures, we’re still not quite in a space where it’s totally socially acceptable to be openly passionate about our hobbies without inciting intrigue from our fellows. Until such a time, wear the enthusiast badge with pride and keep pursuing what makes you happy. Nerds and geeks everywhere – unite!

*title photograph property of Peter Gibbons