Saturday, August 27, 2005

Everybody is a nerd.

I remember when these people were the only ones we gave the name ‘nerd’ to. And we were right to do so. These people also qualified.

But something’s happened over the last few years. Suddenly there were toy nerds. Movie nerds. G.I. Joe nerds. And Muppet nerds. Yes, Muppet nerds. I’m as shocked as you are.

The turning point came when I realized there were guitar nerds. Weren’t guitars supposed to be the pinnacle of cool in American society? But yes, there are people that obsess about every piece of equipment in a guitar’s signal chain. And they want to talk about it.

And the ipod? What’s more fashionable and trendy than the ipod? But there are nerds there too.

The fact is, we live in one of the few countries where we have time to wonder what guy performed what puppet on what episode guest starring an obscure celebrity from the 70’s. And the internet gives them all an outlet. No matter what your interest, someone’s devoted an entire website to it. So the depth of knowledge for anything, is exponential. Which means there can be fashion nerds. Beer nerds. Home improvement nerds. Car nerds. Even, in what seems like an oxymoron, sports nerds (listen to some of these guys rattle off statistics and you’ll see what I mean).

At some point, nerds took back the word 'geek' and made it their own, much like homosexuals took back ‘queer’. I like ‘geek’. It implies some sort of technical savvy while ‘nerd’ implies labored breathing, bad comic timing and a snorting laugh.

But we need ‘nerd’ too. If everyone’s a nerd, the insult has to disappear. Having a hobby shouldn’t make you an outcast. Let’s stop feeling like it. But ‘classic nerds’ need to be called out somehow. We’ll need a new word to label those people who are so uncomfortable, they make us uncomfortable.

I nominate ‘dork.’.

(P.S.: I belong to every one of these message boards.)


Mr. Tea said...

Comparing nerd with geek

1. Phonetics
Geek sounds cooler than nerd. It has a 'k' in it, and 'k' is a much cooler letter than the pedestrian 'd' that ends nerd. Also, geek begins and ends with hard consonants that form in the badass back of the mouth, lending a rough, vaguely exotic sound. That's way cooler than the rubbery, spineless consonants "n" and "d," both of which are formed in the front seat of the mouth, right behind the bus driver.

2. Origins
The origins of the word geek are also cooler than nerd. As you point out, early nerds were simply middle-class social inepts who read science fiction and avoided physical activity. But geek is a carnival term. It orignally described a performer who did disgusting acts, like biting the head off of a live chicken. That's kinda punk. It's also kinda Ozzy. Both cool.

3. Usage
"Nerd" is what Fonzie called you if you wore coke-bottle glasses and went by the name Melvin Belvin. "Geek" is what Fred Blassie called you if you were:

grit eatin',
scum suckin',
boot lickin',
drop kickin',
gut grindin',
nail bitin',
glue sniffin',
scab pickin',
butt scratchin',
egg hatchin',
pepper bellied,
dirty, lousy, rotten, stinkin', freaks.
Nothing but a pencil neck geek.

How cool is that??

4. Conclusion
While both geeks and nerds are outcasts who inspire discomfort and disgust in others, only geeks own their repulsiveness. That's why geeks are cooler than nerds. Therefore, I nominate the use of geek over nerd. It's more empowering. And forget dork. That's what nerds call their dicks.

Cromely said...

An interesting meditation on spotting geeks, as told by a stufffed Penguin. Scroll down to "Pengie goes to a Programming Competition, Part II".

The rest of the site, btw oozes cuteness. Watch your insulin level.