I wrote a post earlier this week on acceptance, a virtue that I believe is a necessary facet of geekdom, the Golden Rule, the Prime Directive even. Yet I imagine there are some trolly geeks out there who are thinking that acceptance = you must listen my horrid bigotry disguised as “opinion” until I have worked up a lather and left a trail of boiling troll froth all over your blog.
Acceptance has more nuance than most people realize, and I think that it deserves further exploration if only so that I don’t have type the phrase “boiling troll froth” ever again.
Acceptance does not mean that everybody has to be best friends who do everything together. It will always be the case that some friendships are stronger than others. You can be accepting of people without feeling obligated to spend every spare bit of time you have with people who are great, but who you don’t quite click with.
Acceptance does not mean being nice to everyone all the time. There are going to be people who rub you the wrong way or who violate your boundaries. Some people are dense, others are clueless (like me), and there are only some many nice ways you can tell someone they are bothering you without being firm. You can be an accepting, tolerant person without being a doormat.
Acceptance does not mean tolerating sexist/racist/homophobic bullies. Part of the virtue of acceptance is maintaining an environment in which it is not only practiced, but enforced. Yes, that means having to dedicate your time to verbally sparring with total assholes. And nobody likes wasting any amount of life on an asshole. Yet the people who they’re targeting will be better off knowing that you’re willing to disperse social consequences like ninja stars should anyone try to mess with your peeps. Just do it politely, and remember to viciously attack the awful opinions, not the person spouting them. Use accurate labels if you have too (ever see how much bigots hate being called bigots?), but avoid name calling. The goal should be to correct asshat behavior, not to permanently alienate the person.*
Acceptance is sitting down next to someone at in the con suite who doesn’t have the same skin color as you.
Acceptance is learning conversational Klingon so that you can communicate with a geek who is fluent in the warrior’s tongue, but doesn’t speak English.
Acceptance is acknowledging that a geeks’s talents, ambitions, and gaming stats have nothing to do with the genitalia between their legs.
Acceptance is letting a geek dad show you all the baby cosplay photos on his iPhone and not freaking out when you realize that the dude crossdressed as Alana from Saga is his husband.
Acceptance is giving a socially inept person a chance to learn the social skills their parents failed to teach them in a safe environment.
Acceptance is hearing someone say “I’m not comfortable with that” and doing your best to respect their wishes.**
Acceptance is acknowledging that strength comes in many forms.
And above all else, acceptance is friendship, offered freely without a single string attached to it.
*Although if you’re dealing with an unrepentant asshole, then you should take steps to minimize contact with them until they either 1) change their ways or 2) find another victim to spew their poison on.
**Exceptions to this guideline can be made for people committing assholery. Not comfortable around two gay men holding hands in public? Step outside your bigoted comfort zone and deal with it.