Nerds, Who Are We?

i was a nerd before nerds were coolIn my blog and even in my name I heavily bank on the word nerd, this word is as easy to nail down as Jello. I think the word has different meanings to different people, some people when they call on the image of a nerd they think of someone to the kin of Steve Urkel, thick glasses, a nasally voice and zero social skills. But recently I have seen a turn in the culture of the world to start seeing nerds in a new light, many of the most popular inventions nowadays are made by nerds, and they are starting to change the social view.

The show “Big Bang Theory” of which I am a big fan has helped some people change their views of nerds a little in the main stream media. The show glorifies nerd culture and shows the heart behind the glasses. But not all nerds are super smart and have doctoral degrees like the people on that show.

So again we come to the hard question, how do we classify nerds? Well, the truth is you really can’t. People have tried to group nerds by interests calling some Trekkies, Gamers or even Otaku (extreme anime and manga fans). These interests are parts of a bigger picture and being a nerd is greater than the sum of its parts.

Let’s look at a few other views on what it means to be a nerd:

According to Tara Tiger Brown, who gained brief infamy in March 2012 for telling off “fake geek girls,” true geekiness meant you had to be “willing to forgo social outings and popularity” for your interests, and it wasn’t “something you wanted advertised.”

Benjamin Nugent (author of American Nerd: The Story of my People) describes white nerds as rejecting the generally invisible benefits of their race: “By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white.”

Passion and knowledge are prerequisites to nerdiness, though the same could be said for almost any group. But beyond that, there’s often an unspoken rule: you have to have suffered. And in that, shared suffering is where I think nerds have their greatest strength, each other. If you have ever been to any kind of anime or video game convention, the atmosphere is amazing. Nerds praise each other when we do something worthy of it, we get along, and we protect our own. It is that shared knowledge that the society has looked down on us all for what we love, and we find a deep connection with others who have been treated the same way.

So yes people look at me weird when I talk about steampunk or the conventions I go to or the things I make both on and off line for fun. People’s eyes glaze over when I talk about computer, anime or programming  But every once in a while I get to talk to a true nerd and the level of acceptance and comprehension of my life and interests is so amazing that they are my favorite conversations in the world. I plan on going to as many conventions this year as I can, and I can’t wait to nerd out with my fellow nerdy brethren.

The Fedora Nerd – Ben Crawford

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