Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Is a Nerd (or Geek)?

In 2015, the term "nerd" is essentially meaningless. It used to refer to someone like the above individual, a socially-maladroit character who was interested in math and science and hobbies like Ham radio and entomology. Nowadays, it can refer to people who like comic books or cartoon ponies, but who don't have any interest in science or technical hobbies. There's geek fashion and geek get togethers like Comic Con. These aren't real nerds; these people are impostors. A real nerd wouldn't step within a thousand feet of a social convention; he or she is too busy building a self-propelling hovercraft in their garage with the spare parts of a thirty-year-old station wagon. Real nerds have electrical engineering degrees and work in Silicon Valley or NASA. They don't camp out in Darth Vader gear to wait for the release of the new Star Wars movie. This is one of the many problems with the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The writers act as though these two groups mingle. Nerds don't mingle, not unless you want to debate the merits of advanced calculus. The words "nerd" and "geek" have been co-opted by the mainstream in order to sell man-children nostalgia. Let's number some activities and see whether they would be done by a true nerd or a poser.

1. Becoming fluent in Latin--real nerd activity.

2. Becoming fluent in Klingon--fake nerd activity.

3. Building a water-cooled supercomputer--real nerd hobby.

4. Getting on an internet forum to complain about games journalism--fake nerd hobby.

5. Not having any real idea how to properly dress oneself--real nerd problem.

6. Purposefully dressing oneself in large-framed glasses and comic book shirts--fake nerd problem.

7. Learning Morse code--real nerd hobby.

8. Learning leet (1337) speak--fake nerd hobby.

9. Not knowing how to talk to people because of lack of interest in social matters--real nerd problem.

10. Not knowing how to talk to people because of "crippling" self-anxiety and/or interest in cartoon ponies--fake nerd problem.

11. Has no real opinion on politics, but possess very strong opinion on the merits of the SETI project--real nerd.

12. Believes in anarcho-capitalism and frequently discusses how the feminists are ruining everything--fake nerd.

13. Couldn't properly enjoy Jurassic World because of the outdated depiction of dinosaurs--real nerd.

14. Saw Jurassic World three times because the ending fight scene was so cool--fake nerd.

15. Spent extra money on constructing a 3d printer--true nerd.

16. Spent extra money on collecting action figures from all the Marvel movies--fake nerd.

17. Reads Pointless Venture and enjoys it--real nerd.

18. Reads Kotaku--fake nerd.

19. Wants to be the next Issac Newton--real nerd.

20. Wants to be that guy on Youtube who does Super Mario speedruns--fake nerd.    

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