Monday, November 02, 2009

biology is geek-stiny

My recent self-diagnosed Central Auditory Processing Disorder (i.e. difficulty hearing people above background noise) has got me thinking about how one's physical/mental strengths and weaknesses affect the sort of person one becomes.

I feel like I was pretty much channeled into a path by the way my brain works. I can't hear people in noisy places, so I was never good at parties or bars, meaning I tend to socialize one-on-one and have poor group socializing skills. My problems remembering faces and names makes getting to know people I run into here and there more difficult. (Oddly enough, these problems were far less evident when I was young - in school you talk to people in fairly low-noise environments and see the same people day after day, making it easier to remember who is who).

On the other hand, I have one of these brains that instantly understood how computers worked; it all made sense to me. I am the guy friends call when their computer isn't working or when they need to hook up their new DVR.

And my analytic tendency and strong reading and writing skills made it relatively easy to wind up doing what I'm doing now; writing reviews.

And so, because my brain is the way it is, I don't go to clubs, I tend to be low key and sometimes overwhelmed in group social situations and, because I'm always introducing myself to people who already know me, probably seem like a bit of a doofus.

And so, instead of becoming an international spy or a CEO, I became a nerdy, geeky computer programmer turned videogame reviewer.

Is it possible to overcome a geeky destiny? What if when I was young I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone? What if someone had actually recognized that I had what are essentially social disabilities and I had received some sort of social training to overcome them? What if, what if, what if.

I do believe that biology is to a great extent destiny, but that there is some wiggle room. After all, in spite of my geekiness, I never became a Trekkie, or joined the SCA or played Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't wind up a 40-year-old virgin or, as a movie version of the awkward, four-eyed, violin-playing kid I was would have, as a humorless bureaucrat. Instead, I moved to Manhattan on a whim, became a street performer and a songwriter and now dance the blues until 3 in the morning. Which doesn't mean I'm not still a nerd, but simply that I'm my own unique version of a nerd.

Honestly though, I would trade 20 IQ points for better social skills. But considering the oddities of the brain resting in my skull, I think I've done pretty well for myself.