Nothing in the evolution of homo technologicus can have prepared us for the current style of modern technological man. Here is a brief history of the changing fashions of that genius genus sometimes called geek. (Women, we are not ignoring you. Your moment has also come! Read on…)
Perhaps the most famous of the first technologically-proficient men were men like Da Vinci, who excelled in numerous fields. They were Europeans who consolidated the wisdom of the East. Their technological sketches looked forward to helicopters and their anatomical sketches drew enigmatic smiles from the ladies. It was the men who were the popinjays of the age – from their ruffled collars to their colorful hose.
The big man on campus came to be defined less and less by who swung the biggest stick and more by who could design the best catapult. Engineer salaries trended up like Dilbert’s tie, but the pointy-haired executives still kept them in their cubicles. One recognized a nerd by his uniform – the garish tie, the ink-stained shirt despite the pocket protector, and the pant pocket bulging with the slide rule. Few women wanted to be around them, let alone join them.
In the new millennium, it is the hacker who saves the planet as often as it is the buff hero. Suddenly, no crime-fighting team is complete without a computer expert – and more and more that computer expert is a woman. She might never kiss the captain, but her role is much bigger than Uhura’s ever was. She is key to closing many of the cases, even if she seldom leaves the basement. Perhaps this helps account for her dark ethos. She outlines her eyes with kohl to hide the bags under her eyes. She plays thrashing metal music to keep herself awake all night.
Male hackers are often comic side characters on screen, overweight and slovenly, fueled by the Hot Pockets, Doritos, and energy drinks that fuel their real-life gamer counterparts. Their basement dwelling is not in an anti-crime bunker but in their mom’s house. In real life, the men and women working in tech are largely metrosexual. Despite being by definition potential remote workers, they mostly live in the world’s largest cities (in Asia) or medium-large, hip American cities like San Francisco and Austin. The IT women wear space buns while the IT men wear man-buns. The IT women keep their gadgets in their handbags while the IT men keep their gadgets in their manbags.
At the same time, many technologically proficient men are not willing to trade in their traditional mode of masculinity to conform to this narrow-hipped stereotype. He does not embrace toxic masculinity or old-fashioned machismo. E-man is not He-man. He is free to choose either a waxed mustache or a mountain man beard – or neither. E-man is both special and mainstream. He has arrived. He does not need to show off. So how does he express himself?
The trend in technology has been towards smaller sizes for some time. At the same time, certain limits have been reached. Flip phones are smaller than smartphones, but we prefer the larger size because we want a larger screen and to be able to scroll through more menus. Regardless of the size trend in the future, E-man will not need to show off with size. Bigger is not always better.
Nonetheless, E-man will not hesitate to use something more efficient and handier just because of how others view it. A perfect example is a cell phone holster. It is not that E-man is embarrassed to hang his cell phone out of his skinny jean’s back pockets like a tween at the mall. But he knows that a holster is better at preserving and protecting his device, avoiding butt-dials, and generally more convenient. They can be combined with wallets and travel wallets and can be worn on the hip or the shoulder.
Some E-men will prefer traditional, elegant, executive black when it comes to color. Others may prefer neon orange – not out of nostalgia for the Apple iMac, but because it is easier to spot in a black carry-on suitcase or in the dark of night. Each E-man expresses himself as he feels. He is not of the herd. He is the trend.