May 28, 2015

"Because I'm a Nerd..."

I've seen a lot of people refer to themselves as "nerds" who I wouldn't consider to be nerdy in the least.  In my head I tend to scoff and write them off, because obviously you can't be a nerd if you don't meet my personal definition of what a "nerd" is.

The thing is, there's really no set definition.  I would probably use the term to refer to myself, but my boyfriend (whom I met on Geek 2 Geek) told me shortly after meeting that I'm not a real geek and shouldn't have been on the site.  Jokingly, of course.  I'm sure (I hope) he's glad I used the site, but he was serious that I wasn't a geek.

And I'm open minded enough to admit that other people might actually consider themselves to be nerdy or geeky even if I wouldn't.  But here's the other thing.

I see the term used like this, "I love reading posts where I actually learn something.  Because I'm a nerd!"  Hold up.

This rubs me the wrong way immediately, but it took a little reflection to figure out why.

Sure this person might consider themselves a nerd.  And enjoying learning might be part of their definition of what a nerd is.  But... it doesn't come across as discussing a hobby or passion in that context.  It's an excuse.  "My nerdiness causes me to have this uncool tendency" rather than "I'm a nerd because I'm so passionate and interested in this thing."

No one should feel like it's uncool to be intelligent, or interested in learning.  And no one should feel the need to use the word "nerd" or "geek" to explain away their "uncool" interests.

I'll admit a "nerd" can be defined many different ways, and there's a plethora of hobbies and interests that I would consider to be "nerdy."  But what really characterizes the nerds I see or read about is the level of interest and care that they invest into their hobbies.  Nerds are passionate.  Whether that topic is fantasy books, sci-fi TV, larping, cosplay, gaming or even just generic reading, being "nerdy" about something means you revel in it.

So using the word "nerd" as an excuse for something, rather than to express your enthusiasm for it means you'll never be a nerd.  Because you've already admitted that you think that thing is uncool and you're embarrassed to like it against your better judgement.

And isn't that sad and a little ridiculous?!  Right now our society is far more open minded to traditional "nerd" hobbies than ever before!  Fantasy, and even sci-fi, is having a great run in our movies and TV shows.  Dystopia is becoming a widely read genre, and conventions ever more popular.  No one blinks an eye at the mention of Renaissance Faires or Medieval Times!

It's also distressing that people feel the need to justify normal, positive things by calling themselves nerds.  I've heard it used to explain away an interest in books, math, and science.  I've heard people refer to themselves as nerds for being intelligent, using a "big" word, or knowing the answer to too many trivia questions in a game.

Why?!  Why is anyone ashamed of any of those things?  I certainly don't mind them being associated with nerds, because they're all positive, but you don't have to be smart to be a nerd, and you don't have to be a nerd to be good at science.  No one should feel ashamed of being educated.

So call yourself a nerd if you want to!  Whether it's Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or young adult werewolf/vampire love triangles.  If you're passionate about it, I will not dispute your claim to the title.  Even if you're a "reality TV nerd," I'll do my best not to judge you and accept that zeal comes in all shapes and forms.

But don't use it for the things you're ashamed of.  And don't be ashamed of your intellect!  Be proud.  Be proud of your strengths, be proud of your interests, and be proud of yourself, whatever labels you choose to describe yourself.

Not that they're needed.  If you're a nerd, your hobbies and your enthusiasm for them will speak for themselves.  If you're not a nerd, then you're missing out.

What does the word "nerd" mean to you?  What interests do you have that you would consider to be nerdy?

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  1. I love using the word "nerd" to describe myself, but I don't think it's in a negative way. I collect bugs. I nerd out watching Doctor Who marathons. I think it's more of a word to describe the level of passion that you have for an interest or hobby. Words, Schmords. Geek is actually a term to describe people who bite the live heads off of chickens. That word has come a long way too!

    1. Ewww... Lol! I had to look it up, this was such a good piece of trivia. "Geek shows" were the circus "freaks" doing bizarre things. Who knew?! And apparently Dr. Seuss invented the word "nerd." (From Today I Found Out, if anyone else is interested)

  2. I'm not sure I've ever used 'nerd' to describe myself. But you're right, I see it all the time when people talk about books and such. I don't think anyone should be ashamed of being intelligent either, it's a wonderful thing the world needs more of!

  3. I am a bit of a book nerd, and obviously a hard core gaming nerd. You should seriously see the vintage collection we have growing downstairs!!! I texted a picture to my mom the other day and she was like ummm that is a shit ton of games. Yes, yes it is :) I am not ashamed of my nerd tendencies though. Not in the least bit!

  4. big thumbs up. i kinda dislike the word nerd in the way some people use it. yeah, i like to read and i like LOTR and P&P and random stuff - I might say 'i'm a p&p geek' but that just means i'm a geek about anything p&p. but anyway. i don't think donning glasses or learning something from a post makes you nerdy hahaha. but i agree, i would never say something bad and then blame it on the fact that i'm a nerd... because no. no, no, no.

  5. Such a great post! I completely agree. I definitely think being a nerd or geek means being intensely passionate about one (or many) subjects. And it is most definitely something to be proud of, not to be used in shame!

    1. You can kind of tell how much things have changed in the last 20 years by how willing people are to discuss things like gaming in public. I mean, I guess some younger people are still embarrassed to play "nerd" games, but for the most part, the 20 somethings that I've gamed with have been happy to launch into the topic any time, any place. But the 40 somethings have been more likely to avoid the topic if we were in a public place and only discuss it during a game session or through email. Which is a little sad, but I guess I can understand why if they got picked on in high school for it, whereas I never did.

  6. I have lots of nerd friends. I even married one, but I never really think of myself as one. I love to read but that not nerdy to me.


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