Geek or no geek, tell me what you think

I’ve been over the moon with messages of support and offers of help for Geek Mental Help Week. I’m going to write personally to everyone who offered to design and build the website

I’m very pleased to be working with Heydon Pickering who has already worked on developing applications like DocReady, which helps young people with mental health doctors’ appointments) and Mind Of My Own which helps care leavers—many of whom have mental health difficulties—to express their needs to guardians and key workers.

Support for the project has been overwhelming, but there has been some criticism of my using the work ‘geek’ in the name. Phil Stringfellow made a good point when he said:

Mental health affects EVERYBODY and adding an often derogatory term in front of it is another form of segregation. So much for open.

I respect Phil’s opinion and his desire to want to get this right. Heather Noonan shared Phil’s sentiment:

Perpetuating a negative stereotype in the industry. We aren’t “geeks” we’re just people with shared interests.

I thought carefully about what to call the project. I chose Mental ‘Help’ instead of Mental ‘Health’ because I wanted to emphasise the support that people who suffer from mental health issues, and those who support us, need.

I know that mental health issues affect people outside our industry, but I think we can make a start by talking about the issues that affect those of us who work on the web, our families and our employers. That’s why I chose to add the word ‘geek.’ I suppose I could’ve used the word ‘tech’ instead, but like Brad Frost, I don’t work in the tech industry. I work on the Web. I could’ve used the word ‘web’ too, but I chose ‘geek.’

‘Geek’ is a stereotype, but not one that I’ve ever felt is particularly derogatory in the context of what we call ourselves and I’m not offended by a good natured ‘geek’ remark.

Still, this isn’t about me and I care that we get this right. It’s not too late to change the name of the project if a lot of people think that my choice of ‘geek’ will have a negative effect on it.

I’m listening. Tweet and tell me what you think.


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