What is a Lifted Geek?

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

2017 is here, and this year marks the fifth year of this little website. Though our birthday isn’t until the fall, I felt that now would be a good time to run this piece. So, going back to the title question… what is a Lifted Geek? For those who know us and have asked before, I’m sure we’ve explained almost ad nauseam where we got the name… but before we go into the meat and potatoes of the whole thing, let me tell you a story about where we began.

Gather round g33ks… the year, 2012… the place, San Diego… the occasion, San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). Myself and my partner Riri have been attending cons for a decade together. Our first con together was Sakura Con 2007 here in Seattle. Since then, each year we have hit the cons and especially since building Lifted Geek, increased the number of events we attend. We were all at a panel in the Indigo ballroom, I don’t think it was a main panel we were looking forward to seeing but one that triggered the initial spark that became Lifted Geek. It was Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, Nerdist is of course owned by the voice of geek culture Christ Hardwick and Geek & Sundry is the brain child of supergeeks Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. In 2012, Nerdist was already a very big name for Hardwick and they announced Nerdist’s acquisition by Legendary Pictures (The Dark Knight Trilogy, 300, Inception). As for Geek & Sundry, Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day had used this panel to officially launch their multimedia project. It was a big, it was inspiring… and it was here that I leaned over to Riri and said, “we should do something like this.”

Chris Hardwick of Nerdist and Wil Wheaton/Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry

Chris Hardwick of Nerdist and Wil Wheaton/Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry

As for the name, we struggled with creating a brand for the website. I wanted something unique and instantly recognizable, something that would create a conversation, something that could maybe someday inspire others in the same way that Nerdist and Geek & Sundry inspired us. I started thinking about the type of person myself and Riri are. By now, the geeks run the world… a very different world than when I was in Middle or High School. Back then, I was planted directly in the crosshairs of the “cool” jocks just because my interests fell more along the lines of playing Magic the Gathering or powering through the latest Final Fantasy title. Comic book movies were still embarrassingly bad and rarely did a teenager have a cell phone.

As I got older, other interests began weaving themselves into my arsenal or things to do. I closeted my geek for a few years after High School and found myself drawn to the world of fashion, night clubs (I worked as a night club promoter at the time), and social interactions with women whose names I usually forgot the next morning, youth eh? Contrary to the colloquial definition of a “nerd” or “geek” I wasn’t the basement dweller with bad personal hygiene and an aversion to social interaction. While I am introverted by nature, I employed the “fake it till you make it” plan. While I rarely go “clubbing” anymore now as a 34 year old geek living in the city, parts of that life stuck with me… essentially my love of fashion and willingness to be social.

A Lifted Geek uplifts and inspires those around them, a Lifted Geek defies expectation, a Lifted Geek strives to be above average.
Lifted Geek at Rose City Comic Con... yes... I was drunk... yes it was my birthday

Lifted Geek at Rose City Comic Con... yes... I was drunk... yes it was my birthday

When I first met Riri, we were just regular normie friends back then… lunching or hanging out, she was my shopping buddy and we’d give each other advice about what to get when picking out a new outfit. It wasn’t until the day we discovered we both watch anime that my chic shopping buddy pal began evolving into my best friend. So one common observation we got over the years was that despite not hiding how geeky we are, the fact that we don’t “look” like the mainstream definition of a “nerd” or “geek” we were somehow either less geeky or just a weird exception to the rule. Now while there are the basement dwellers and the stereotype is there for a reason, the notion of a geek began to evolve to include people who didn’t essentially fit the “norm” when it came to what people thought a nerdy person looked like.

early promo photo we did

early promo photo we did

Born from this observation came our name, Lifted Geek, the above average geek. Now we aren’t bashing other geeks or hell even the basement dweller types, if sitting in a basement all day playing WoW is your jam… hey more power to you! If it makes you happy then you do you boo. To be a Lifted Geek is to go beyond the confines of the age old definition of a geek. Mind you, this isn’t like a makeover where you give up everything that was geeky about you. I remember the Japanese Drama Densha Otoko (Train Man) about a lonely otaku (nerd/geek/fanboy) who stands up for a beautiful woman on the train when a drunk tries to harass her. While the story was a nice geek meets girl geek gets girl story… many of these stories involve giving up that which makes you unique in the first place. Sure, the Train Man cleaned himself up a bit and dressed better… but he did so at the expense of the hobbies that make him happy, he gave up all his otaku goods, making him into a boring though better put together, version of himself.

I call myself a Lifted Geek because in learning and growing, I found a love in many things that make me who I am. Though my identity as a geek is a very big part of that personality, there are other aspects of who I am that further add spice to the nerdy steak. I love fashion, I’m involved in the world around me, I enjoy sports, I can immerse myself in a fantasy world but keep my feet on the ground.

Another aspect of geek culture is the consumer aspect of the geek. We the geek are the great devourers of our fandoms. From the DVD box sets to games to books to full body waifu pillows, we consume much of the media that we love. But to create is a very different thing, to create is to… even for a brief moment in time… leave something behind. Whether you are a writer, a game developer, a cosplayer, an artist. These people take the geeky power inside them and focus it creatively to create something that can be seen, touched, or tasted by others. Any old geek can buy a Harley Quinn figurine or read the comics… but it takes a very special geek to create a costume or an art piece based on the character. These people uplift geek culture, they elevate it to something greater than themselves, they put it in the forefront of people’s minds and give it a voice that can be heard from miles away. 

Some people are content with just living in it, following the ebb and flow of the currents. If that’s your jam, then that’s cool! Keep doing what makes you happy. But for some, for people like Chris Hardwick and Felicia Day, for people like myself and my best friend Riri, we didn’t just want to consume it anymore. We do our fair share of consumption, but in starting Lifted Geek we found a brand new love of creating. We create this content for the fans and for those who have followed our journey from day one. We urge those around us to create more, to be inspired, and to in turn inspire others. So what is a Lifted Geek? A Lifted Geek uplifts and inspires those around them, a Lifted Geek defies expectation, a Lifted Geek strives to be above average, a Lifted Geek is you… a Lifted Geek is me. We are geek for we are many, we stand together and strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves. Our culture is changing and evolving every day, events like Comic Con have grown from humble beginnings to big events drawing thousands of attendees young and old. To ensure that growth, we create and we mature with it. That is what a Lifted Geek is to me, and that is where we get the name. 

Be the change this culture needs and be the best more upgraded geeky version of yourself, stay frosty internet… and get lifted.