Sunday, February 28, 2010


I have been thinking about nerds lately. Not the small delicious candy nerds, but the people kind. A few weeks ago at the workplace one of my coworkers said she likes microfilm. She used to look at it a lot with her mom to do genealogy work and she still likes it. Then she said how she doesn't think of herself as a nerd until she says things like that. And I thought to myself, why is microfilm nerdy? Why should liking it make you a nerd? What is so inherently nerdy about microfilm? And why is nerdiness a bad thing anyway?

Why should anyone be ashamed of their interests (I mean, so long as they aren't obsessive or destructive)? If someone is really into Project Runway, no one bats an eye. Instead they say "Oh, I love Project Runway! That dress that Ping made didn't even cover the model's bum!" If someone is a really into Star Wars, it's like an automatic nerd label. Why is being a fan of Tim Gunn more acceptable than being a fan of Yoda? They're both wise and well dressed, with unique ways of talking.

I guess I just don't get why some things are socially acceptable and cool and other things are uncomfortable to admit to.
Should I only wear my knee socks at home and hide my sweater vests under jackets? Should I hide the fact that I love Battlestar and just say that I like The Office? I didn't even realize that my BSG love is shameful until two girls in NPR were hassling their fellow interviewer guy for being a big fan.

I'm not ashamed of the things I like or do. I'm not a running nerd because I run. I'm not a computer nerd because I like computers. I'm not a food nerd because I watch the Food Network. I like lots of things. I like some things a lot. I guess if that makes me a nerd then I am a happy and proud nerd. But I think it's stupid to label myself anything except awesome. I'm awesome. That's all.


  1. This was a timely post for me, because I've been thinking lately about how I've recently fallen for a lot of geeky shows - Buffy, Doctor Who, Firefly, Caprica (jury's still out there, but I'm intrigued - and will probably have to watch BSG at last) and how I'm okay with that, because they're good. I think people just label stuff nerdy to make them feel better when they don't understand why it's so good and want to stop feeling dumb. :) (Could that be a more defensive geeky response? But even so, I agree that I shouldn't have to defend my live of Buffy, and I won't.)

  2. It's just a defense mechanism. It doesn't make you feel so lame when someone calls you a nerd if you say it first (even if such nomenclature is undeserved anyway).

    I don't think you're a nerd. And likewise, I guess neither am I! That's a relief.

  3. Well, it all depends. Do they TALK like yoda and dress up like a storm trooper on a weekly basis? I would also say a person was a nerd if they talk like Tim Gunn and walk around in Ping's dress that doesn't cover their bum. So, really it's about fanaticism. It can go any which way. It's just that for some reason, people are more fanatical about sci fi. Also, nerds often make the best husbands, and the most money.

  4. Your post reminded me of a conversation I heard a little while ago on one of my favorite Internet radio shows: Wait, Wait: Don't Tell Me! (am I a nerd because I prefer this show to the news portion of NPR?) They were interviewing the group They Might Be Giants, and the host asked them how they felt about being labeled as a nerdy band. Their response: Nerdy is cool. And it is cool. It shows you have opinions about things. Interests. You don't just like what someone tells you to like; you decide for yourself!

    I know this, I really do. But I still struggle with feeling like I have to apologize for what I like. It's a work in progress.

  5. I think that we were trained as kids to think of certain things as nerdy because that was the culture of the time, but the recent embracing of "nerdy chic" is kind of changing that.

    That being said, "nerd" is just as much of a culture as anything else, and has it's own brand of intolerance for things outside its "norm". (For example, I have no problem flaunting my knowledge of the intricacies of British royalty to my friends, but I do feel like I need to justify my love of Gossip Girl). It all depends on what groups you commonly associate with - we all have things we feel we need to justify based on who is around us at the time.