Backslash Magazine: Talk Nerdy To Me



Dictionaries define nerd as several things. The first thing you find, however, when you look on, is “a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.” The second is nearly as offensive – “an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.” The words, boring, unpopular, obsessive, stupid and feeble follow.

The word geek is never far behind. “A computer expert or enthusiast,” “a peculiar of otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual,” and words about carnival performers, unattractive misfits, and degenerates follow the term. This begs a single question:

Are you kidding me?

The terms nerd and geek are thrown around freely from kindergarten to the nursing home. Though they are a part of our vernacular, the definitions in the dictionaries don’t really seem accurate to the way we use the words.

Michael Demko, a Tampa improve artist, defines a nerd as one who has “passion about a particular subject,” or “extreme interest.” His friend, Tommy Haines, disagrees.

“It’s a rude way of saying geek.”

So why is nerd worse than geek? “Nerd has a more negative connotation,” Haines says.

“A geek is a person who is particularly knowledgeable about a subject,” explains Demko, “while a nerd is someone who is similar, but they’re more socially awkward.”

But these definitions don’t seem to be universal, or even national. William Redkey, who is not a Florida native, states that “the nerdier you are out west, the better,” since geek “implies a lack of intelligence,” though both are socially inept.

Why is it that the intelligent, passionate, and sometimes socially awkward among us are so often maligned? What’s so awful about being a nerd?

The simple truth – stigma. Nerds are marked by their excitement over a particular subject or fandom. They are identifiable by their knowledge of Firefly and ability to quote Star Trek episodes. They are the Sheldon Coopers of the world, and though by college, many have outgrown the perceived shame of their ‘social status,’ many still find themselves struggling when they are often well equipped to be successful. College life embraces many different passions with various clubs and organizations on campus devoted to writing, video games, films, and books, giving the nerds and geeks among us the chance to embrace their passions and meet more of their kind.

It’s time to come out of the shadows, for the nerd shall inherit the earth.

Stay nerdy, my friends;