Today the A to Z Challenge continues! I’ll be posting about one letter/word on every weekday in April. Don’t want the barrage of posts? Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when I start doing new stuff next month!
N is for Nerds.
Nerds and nerd culture have taken over massive sections of mainstream culture, but I suspect most of you, like me, have always been nerds, before a handful of cool movies and a massive upswing in technology made it cool to be a nerd. We might call ourselves nerds with pride now but we’ve all heard it sneered in our direction. I’m sure that even with the rising popularity of nerd culture there are still kids who get called a nerd like it’s a bad thing. The word itself is a double edged sword–just check out its two definitions, taken straight from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:
a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, etc.
a person who is very interested in technical subjects, computers, etc.
Lots of words can be used as either insult or compliment depending on your tone of voice and the context but this word is literally designed to be an insult for tech people(or, I suppose, an underhanded compliment). It comes with all kinds of images, and what pops into people’s minds is often an overweight, somewhat unclean and kind of pervy dude.
However,in the last few years the popular use of the word “nerd” has shifted away from its original meaning in a few big ways. Nerd has grown to encompass people who love books, comics and video games. Events like Comic Con happen in more places and have more attendees every year. While a pretty high percentage of these people also happen to be tech people, you can find every type of person at a convention.
It’s strange but awesome to see this shift in society, to know the nerds of the next generation will be praised more than they will be mocked, to see our culture valued as it never really has been. As the voices clamoring for diversity in nerd media grow louder and more people from all walks of life are drawn to nerd culture we are sure to see some incredible new things. I suspect things will reach a tipping soon, beyond which nerd culture will almost be unrecognizable–but in a good way.
Are you a nerd? What do you think of the word “nerd”? Let me know in the comments section below!