Mar 26, 2014

You Say "Nerd" Like it's a Bad Thing...

Seriously, Who Does This?

I didn't really grow up in the culture where the nerds were the geeky kids without social skills.  When someone in my middle school jungle of insecurity wanted to put me down, "nerd" was never the insult of choice.  If anything, I think the reverse is becoming true.  Suddenly a wide variety of people are proclaiming themselves to be nerds for anything from actually picking up a book to watching the entire Lord of the Rings series.

What's really interesting is the reactions of those who have had the label placed on them before it was an acceptable quirk, or who felt ostracized for liking these same things that are now gaining popularity.  It's like all their repressed frustrations over the years have boiled over, and they now feel the need to scoff at the newer crowd jumping on the band wagon and lord their superior nerdiness over them.  "[Game of Thrones, Star Wars, fantasy whatever] is/was actually quite mainstream.  Liking it doesn't make you a nerd."

So What Does?

This is kind of a loaded question.  I started coming up with all kinds of quippy answers and looked up the definitions in and Urban Dictionary, but I don't even want to get into it.  It's silly, because it's a term based entirely on cultural perception, and it changes fairly quickly.  At this point, it's really just slang and it means whatever you want it to mean, so why are we even quibbling about it?

Of Course There Are A Few Exceptions

I have heard the term "nerd" used in a negative way only a couple times.  Or, not necessarily negative, but in a self-excluding way.  And I judge the heck out of those people.  Both because they're already judging me, and because they are so intent on separating themselves from any outside, "uncool" influences, that they haven't even noticed that Game of Thrones, and being a nerd, are kind of a thing right now. Just ask Ben Wyatt (from Parks and Recs, if you didn't know), "You know, 'nerd culture' is mainstream now. So, when you use the word 'nerd' derogatorily, it means you're the one that's out of the zeitgeist."

And this is fantastic!  Suddenly I can compare notes with people who have actually watched a fantasy dystopian movie (Thank you, Hunger Games).  People are even reading!  Which means book/movie comparisons can be done without feeling like you're boring everyone.

So for all the proclaimers and deniers out there, why don't we all just shut up about who really is or is not a nerd and argue about whether The Hobbit was better as a book or a movie instead.