Nobody Knows

by James Classen

I have labeled myself variously over the years: “nerd”, “band geek”, “computer guy”, etc. I don’t think I’ve been aware of how labels in general are perceived by the culture around me nearly as much as I am now. Some labels, immediately bring to mind other labels, rightly or wrongly. For instance, “Sikh” (which would be the label applied to a certain subset of people of a Dharmic monotheistic faith) can cause people to associate the labels “terrorist” or “Muslim” with such a person (the labels “Muslim” and “terrorist” have an interconnection which is deeper and more complicated than what I’m trying to say here). Lately (and I use that word rather loosely, too), there’s been something called “#GamerGate” (info here, here, here, here, here, and about a billion other places, just not Wikipedia). Despite the possible implications of doing so, I want to make clear of a few labels with which I currently associate myself:

  • Engineer (mostly a career- and degree-based descriptor)
  • Nerd (If you want to associate the glasses-wearing, socially-awkward stereotype here, go ahead, because that applies)
  • Geek (The [mostly] stereotypical tabletop RPG playing, Star Trek watching, comic-book reading type, with music, legal, linguistic and math compound modifiers added to bolster my cred)
  • Music lover
  • Android user (as opposed to those iPhone fanatics)
  • Husband (yes, I’m married)
  • Diabetic (unfortunately, and this one won’t change unless there are major advances in endocrinology)
  • White, cis-gendered, heterosexual male (i.e. very privileged, but aware of it, at least to some small degree)
  • Feminist ()
  • Pro-choice (this goes hand-in-hand with feminism; see this, too)
  • Anti death penalty ()
  • Liberal (very much so relative to my current political surroundings)
  • Humanist (Philosophical and Secular, according to that list)
  • Skeptic ()
  • Atheist ()

There may be one or three surprises on that list to some friends, but these have all been applicable for rather quite a while now, so the revelation (I hope) won’t color your opinion of me, or worse, cause you to dissociate yourself from me. If so, perhaps “friend” was the wrong word.

While some labels I now use are the antithesis of the culture in which I was raised—I had no cell-phone until I think 2003, and no smartphone until the Samsung Galaxy S was released; I inexplicably regurgitated conservative/patriarchal gender roles while actually being feminist, without a label until I stumbled upon this one about a year out of college; I used to be pro-life and pro-death (penalty) due perhaps mostly to a misunderstanding of the facts; as recently as a year ago I would have identified as a “libertarian”, but the libertarians have made that an ugly place to camp as well, and I find myself to the left of that camp; I am a skeptic, which, after some careful thought about the ideas I never before questioned, lead me to espouse humanism and atheism as well—some are genetic, one is strictly medical, some are personality traits that I have no desire to change.