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May I introduce a new word for my subculture? We are now "Stemmers"

Date/Time Permalink: 08/19/12 12:44:29 pm
Category: Geek Culture

How do I get that word? It's easy! S.T.E.M. is an acronym standing for:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

So Stemmers would be people who work in, or at least advocate for, those fields.

To replace what 'nerd' used to mean, what 'hacker' used to mean, and especially what 'geek' used to mean. I've been fretting recently (here and here, and here) over what to do now that mainstream culture has ruined the word "geek" forever in the United States (though not, interestingly, The Netherlands). We need a new word.

The STEM careers and their related fields are perfect for capturing this culture. Stemmers are interested and fascinated by studying, learning, playing with, and working with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for its own sake.

There, now "geek" can mean "comic book fan" and "stemmer" can mean what we do.

Now a number of things have to happen:

  • The word has to catch on and enter the language.
  • The term has to be clearly defined.
  • Stemmers need to know and appreciate that they have a cultural identity separate from 90% of the people currently calling themselves 'geeks'.
  • Derivatives have to be settled upon: Perhaps "stemmies", or simply "stems"? Adjective: "stemmy"?

Of course, you can be a stemmer and a geek too. Many people are. But they mean completely different things. If we get the term "stemmer" going, then when somebody identifies themselves as a "geek" to you, you will then know that they'll recognize Star Trek and World of Warcraft, but you have to check with them first before you assume that they know what Ubuntu is or have read Godel, Escher, Bach. If they identify as a "stemmer", feel free to bandy about technical jargon but leave out the "May the force be with you!" nonsense.

Furthermore, the name itself calls attention to what we advocate for: Making education about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics more important in American culture.

It is a word people like Brittany Wenger and Cody Brocious and even Randall Munroe can use to describe what they do and how they live, without tying themselves into derogatory stereotype images. It's a word teachers can use to describe themselves with pride. It's a word that directly invokes what it's about - it will be at least a few years before booth babes in Dork Knight T-shirts go around calling themselves "stemmers".

But count the days, because those "booth babes" are coming! It is inevitable - stemmers are apparently the coolest people on earth, because everybody wants to be labeled what we are without practicing what we do. We've been through 'nerd', 'hacker', and 'geek' with this.

Stemmers, unite! Linux stemmers, sound off! Computing stemmers, make yourselves heard! Stemmer bloggers, what say you? Do you want to go around advertising yourself as some pathetic loser who bites the heads off chickens, or something that actually invokes the career you worked so hard to achieve?

The time of the stemmer is at hand!

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