You Say Nerd, I Say Who Cares?

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"If we let him call us a nerd, he'll leave us alone..."

“If we let him call us a nerd, he’ll leave us alone…”

So, maybe I’m a nerd.

I say “maybe”, because I’m honestly not sure. It used to be that I would be called a nerd against my will, and then I would have to be sad about it. If I wasn’t sad about it, people would be angry, and then they would progress to calling me worse things. It’s like how a bear might want to eat you until he thinks you’re dead, because then you’re no good to him. Unless it’s a California black bear, in which case he will eat you no matter what (Unfortunately for us, “smarter than the average bear” doesn’t mean he wants your pick-a-nick basket; it means he knows your little opossum act is BS).

Things have changed a little bit since I was younger, though, and now people all over are applying the title “nerd” to themselves of their own volition. At first I was confused and afraid. What did this mean? Not only for myself, but for my younger siblings. Was this some kind of trap? Were the pretty and popular kids trying to lull all the nerds in to a false sense of security?

“Wear your nerd badge proud!” They’d say… but maybe it was all some cruel rouse to get the geeks to come out of the word work and identify themselves. From there, the massacre would begin.

It seems, for now at least, that my fears were mostly unfounded. So far, no nerd lynchings have occurred. Not in public, anyway. I can’t vouch for what goes on during pep rallies and home coming games. Mostly because I never went to those. I can only hope that my fellow unpopular brethren that managed to find themselves there, behind enemy lines, made it out okay and with a story to tell. In any case, I still do find it strange how the social climate has changed. Suddenly, thick framed glasses and video gaming are cool again. Or, maybe, for the first time. I’m not sure I remember a time when they were cool before. I don’t necessarily remember a time when they weren’t cool, to be honest, but I know some old school nerd proponents who would beg to differ.

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where people could just like the things they like, and not worry about other people liking it, or not liking it, or not liking them, or wanting to slam them in to lockers.

What I think, and this may not be a popular opinion, is that there’s a very strange territory war going on these days. We have the original nerds in one corner, the new nerds in another, and a slightly overlooked group of people who probably are nerds but don’t want to be called that in the last corner. The original nerds associate their childhoods with lots of being bullied and having to nurture their WoW obsessions in dark closets. These were the people that other people called nerds. Naturally, they harbor some animosity toward “new nerds” who failed to establish their nerd credentials early on in life, and therefore escaped the hell that was growing up an outcast. And make no mistake; growing up an outcast is, in fact, hell. Where I think this opinion might get unpopular is right about here: Everyone’s fighting over something that no one really wants to be.

I think what a lot of people are failing to understand, is that there is a disconnect between what people are associating with what being a nerd is, and what a nerd actually is. It’s just a word. The meaning behind the word has evolved, but the status of people who once had this term forced upon them has not. PC gaming is still made fun of, skinny kids are still pushed around, brainy quiet kids are still excluded. That hasn’t changed. Life is still a popularity contest, and some people are still losing it. The kids who were called geeks in high school are now flocking to defend their status, because they had to suffer for it. If you can’t beat something, you learn to be proud of it, or it’ll end up controlling you in the end. Nerds learned to be proud of being the outcasts, the subverts, the unique ones. It doesn’t hurt so bad to be pushed away when you decide that you want it that way. Or, at the very least, pretend to. These people, like anyone else, are wary of new comers being insincere or trivializing their experiences.

This, while understandable, is pointless.

Why pointless, you ask? Look, who cares if the Victoria Secret model wants to put on a pocket protector and broadcast the fact that she plays TF2 on the weekends? Who cares if your local neighborhood hipster wants to wear pony shirts and rattle on and on about his favorite Dostoevsky quotes? Who cares if people like saying “LOL I’m such a nerd!” It’s not hurting anyone.

My beautiful nerds, in trying to exclude someone from taking an interest in the things you like, however noble an endeavor you think it is, you’re doing exactly what was done to you. All this is going to serve to accomplish is creating more bitterness and animosity in the world… When there really should be more hugs and Doctor Who? balls. They exist. I’ve been to one.

The point is, I think it’s a waste of time to worry about what other people are doing. Labels are for suckers.

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