Saturday, June 30, 2012

What is a Nerd?

Celebrate your nerdiness!

I'm currently reading American Nerd: The Story of My People and finding it insanely interesting. It  is, as expected, a very nerdy book that explains the history and dynamics behind what is commonly considered a nerd.

In the beginning of the book, Benjamin Nugent, the author of the book, gives his opinion of what exactly a nerd is. I agreed with him on some points and disagreed on others.

I, having been classified as a nerd by myself and many others, thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a post on what my definition of a nerd would be.

So here we go:

1) A nerd is almost always an enthusiastic learner. We enjoy learning new things and knowing that we're storing away knowledge. This doesn't, however, mean we're great at everything or enjoy learning about everything. We all have specific interests that we love amassing information on. For example, my brother is more of a tech nerd, so he's more interested in learning about javascript, html, and css. While I've dabbled in html, tech is not my expertise. I'm an avid reader and comic bird nerd that knows more about the technicalities behind tattooing, sociology, and DC Comics trivia than your average girl.

2) Nerds generally enjoy a good cosplay. I honestly haven't ever met a nerd who doesn't enjoy dressing up as their favorite character from a book, movie, or graphic novel. I've met a few who are more shy about it, but never one that thought the idea was stupid.

3) Nerds are passionate about at least one thing that isn't a social norm. I've noticed this just recently: there are some things it's socially acceptable to be passionate about (ie. sports, your occupation/future occupation, mainstream television shows, or even academics to an extent) and other things that aren't okay because it's not what everyone else is passionate about (ie. superheroes, sci-fi, too much reading, or video games). 

4) Nerds rarely enjoy massive amounts of physical activity. This one is more relative because I've seen a few exceptions to this, one being my younger brother. Generally, however, we tend to participate in activities that require little to no physical exertion. Common exceptions to this, however, are any activities that have an obvious nerd factor or make us feel more like the fictional characters we admire. Sword play/Fencing, other fighting techniques (ie. Tae Kwon Do or kick boxing), and fictional games (ie. Quidditch or water-bending wars) are the major categories of these exceptions. Generally these at least appeal to the majority of nerds, whether they pursue them or not.

5) Nerds have a large variety of different personalities. Unlike the generalized model one is often acquainted with, we come in many shapes and sizes. We can be arrogant or humble, introverted or extroverted, confrontational or non-confrontational. We aren't all cookie-cutter copies and we have a plethora of interests that span a wide variety of topics. In fact, I'm quite certain I've never met a nerd who didn't want to be a Renaissance man/woman (aka. someone who would like to be skilled in many differing areas, see Leonardo DaVinci). 

So that's a rough list of what a nerd looks like to me. You may agree or you may disagree. If you have something to add/comment on, feel free to leave it in the comments!

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