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This post is meant to be humorous and in no way intended to seriously insult or offend anyone, including any large corporation whose software gets mentioned. It is mainly meant to be lighthearted, and making fun of only myself.

I imagine it's easier for some than for others, especially when those "some" are male. After all, some people set out to become geeks at a very young age. They take programming in junior high, or high school, or worse, teach themselves it because the school doesn't offer it (which in my opinion is enough by itself, at least if they took it at school it could be considered a matter of curiosity), they try hacking, they build their own computers (although I have heard this called the definition of a "nerd", so who knows), but more importantly, they embrace geekdom with open arms, and an eager smile.

These people you can spot a mile away as "geeks". They have a certain look about them (scruffy, glasses, long hair, often coupled with a pungent odor, etc), they have certain mannerisms (socially inept, clumsy, etc.), they just have an overall aura that screams, "I am a geek!".

What about those who quietly find themselves slipping into geekdom, though? They exist, trust me, I am one of them.

It starts off innocently enough, and for many people it's HTML. You learn it because "web pages are really cool". It's something you can use to impress people, something you can do to maybe earn a couple extra dollars here and there, something you can do to just play with and be proud of yourself for learning. Then you find yourself noticing the limitations of HTML (this in itself should send up warning flags that you are on your way), and learn CSS, or maybe JavaScript, maybe some VBScript, maybe even ASP or PERL or something more complicated. At this point you may still be safe, since technically this makes you a "Web Developer", and as long as you are still concerned about the "pretty stuff", graphics, layout, etc, you may be reasonably sheltered, especially if you are being paid to learn the aforementioned technologies. (Also note: if your ISP is AOL, it doesn't matter if you could solve world hunger with your coding skills, you will NEVER be a geek, switch ISP's, and you're in trouble, though.)

So you've learned all these web languages, and you've started to notice your hair getting longer and scragglier. Are you becoming a geek?

Ask yourself a few basic questions:

What do I look at first, the content of a web page or its source code?
Can I tell without looking at the source code what 3rd party tool created the page (withOUT it being because that's the one you once used yourself)?
Do I scoff at this page created with FrontPage or Dreamweaver for being done "the easy way"?
Do you notice other people's coding errors because you already have script debugging installed on your machine?
Do you spend more time checking your page for errors in Netscape than errors in spelling?

If you answered yes to a majority of these questions, unfortunately you're on your way to becoming a geek. However, you're still only a "Web Developer", and these could also be accounted for by saying you're a "Conscientious Web Developer".

But then the bug hits. Suddenly you're realizing that your web pages can't do much, so you learn about databases. Before you know it, you dream about normalization and primary keys, and you're starting to get into trouble.

And it gets worse. Now you don't want to just be able to write web pages, so you learn Visual Basic. This is alright, since it's not really a "programming language" and you could get away with never really doing anything more than minor coding, plus it's really only that VBScript you learned a while ago, right? That's not so bad.

Suddenly you find yourself taking C and C++. Maybe you heard that Java would be easier to learn after this and wanted to add Java to your bag of web tricks. However, before you know it you're having nightmares about being chased by pointers and attacked by looping control structures. At this point I have some bad news for you, you are beyond the point of no return. There is nothing you can do at this point, no matter how much you dig in your heels, and fight the impending doom that is geekdom. You are a geek.

The realization hit me a couple months ago, after a few years of just dabbling with web coding, as I found myself answering questions for other people that I KNOW were just not easy. A strange queasy feeling came over me, and I started to panic. If you realize it before you've crossed that point of no return, you can sometimes stop it, although doing so is often on par with stopping a stampeding herd of elephants coming your way, but at least it IS possible. Once you have inadvertently crossed that line your options are highly limited. You can a) embrace it or (Note: approach most effective for females) b) do what I did, put on a low-cut shirt, wear your contact lenses, and go out to the bar, get hit on by as many guys as possible, anything to remind yourself that you're capable of NOT being a geek! Just remember that when you get home, you can't forget to check your email before you go to bed.

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