Tag Archives: hipsters

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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Being A Vegetarian In a Hipster-Vegan World

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So, as a vegetarian, there are certain things I have become wearily accustomed to.  I am used to being offered various meat products by everyone which, when it’s someone I’m hanging out with for the first time seems like a nice gesture, but when it’s my dad whom I’m relatively certain has known me my whole life, it’s just redundant.  That stopped being funny when I was ten.  I say ten because that’s when my memories really start coming in to focus, and if this was ever funny, it definitely wasn’t by then.  I am also used to being asked by every new person who happens to discover that I’m a vegetarian if I eat fish. When I say no, the question is almost invariably followed up by asking me if I eat chicken.

No, Internet.  No, I don’t.

However, while those things are admittedly pet peeves of mine, I can usually just smile and shrug.  This is my lot in life.  No one is forcing me to be a vegetarian.  I can deal with these examples of lameness.  Recently, though, my father repeated a joke that he had heard on the radio back to me: “The difference between vegetarians and vegans is that vegetarians are annoying.  Vegans are really annoying.”

You can’t hear it, but I am sighing audibly.  Jokes like this? They’re harder to shrug off.  The truth is, I know there is a stereotype.  I know there is a stigma.  It seems like whenever a group of people do anything remotely different from the majority, it’s got to be bashed by someone, somewhere. The sad part, though, is that I understand why vegetarians are made fun of. I understand it so much, that I am recently reluctant to tell new people that I even am a vegetarian. It’s all these new hipster-vegans coming out of the woodwork, driving their Priuses and giving all their meat-eating friends that icily pretentious stare that clearly says, “I’m better than you because of my DIET”.

Hipster-vegans, you are DOING IT WRONG.

Just as I learned a long time ago that I don’t like being poked and prodded about what and how I eat, I know that meat-eaters don’t like that either.  You’re not scoring yourself any points with anyone when you stare at your friend’s food and judge them based on the amount of animal they are about to consume. For my part, I figure it’s one of those “live and let live” type deals.  You want to eat cow? Please, eat cow! Eat cow all day, every day.  Enjoy it, dammit. I may not like it; it might even make me sad if I think about it too long… but hell if I will ever mention that aloud to a friend who is about to tuck happily in to dinner.  Hell if I will ever mention it to a friend at all.  It’s not my business, and it’s not my place.  As long as they’re not giving me crap about my heaping plate of broccoli florets and carrot sticks, why should I even care?

Now, the epic level of irony in this post has not escaped me.  I realize that I am more or less stating that I was a vegetarian before it was cool and that I’m better at it than everyone else, which in turn makes me seem like a hipster vegetarian myself.  I won’t deny it. I won’t even argue the point.  What I will say is that I was a vegetarian before it was cool.  I became a vegetarian when I was 5, and that was before anything was cool.  At some point there has to be some kind of line between when saying that is irritating, and when saying that is just true.  I remember when being a vegetarian just meant I didn’t eat meat.  Now, apparently, it means I’m a tree-hugging animal rights activist.  True, the stigma’s always been there, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s significantly worse these days. I partially blame Alicia Silverstone, I partially blame the democratic party. I mostly blame animals.

My point, anyhow, is never get in involved in a land war in Asia. My other point is this: It’s good to have ideals and to stand by your convictions, but it’s less good to constantly throw them in other peoples’ faces.  You extremists are giving the rest of us a bad name.  I don’t want to have to add in my little, “But I’m not crazy” disclaimer every time I tell someone I don’t eat meat.

I’m talking to you, PETA.