The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

In Defense of Nerds May 26, 2010

Filed under: shoutout — Alden @ 6:40 pm

Last Friday I was out to dinner to celebrate my sister’s graduation. After my mother and step-dad left, I was left with my sister, her husband, her mother-in-law Patsy, her mother-in-law’s girlfriend Maggie, her sister-in-law Kristen, and her sister-in-law’s girlfriend Vanessa. (My sister has married into a rather unconventional but awesome family.)

So I got into a rousing debate with them about the meaning of the word “nerd,” and all it’s synonyms. I call myself a nerd quite often. As in “I’m being a nerd and hanging out on the internet tonight.” Or, “I’m such a nerd. I love this stupid stuff,” in reference to any of my varied interests – artistically executed advertising campaigns, discussions on the current state of toxin regulation, or deep philosophical ruminations on whether or not an apocalypse is coming, for example.

Maggie asserted that “geek” is as complimentary as “nerd.” In fact, she often calls herself a “flower geek,” because she works in a nursery, and is quite proud of the title. To her “geek” confers an expert status on a subject matter. Fair enough.

Vanessa thinks that “dork” is more complimentary, while “nerd” denotes social-awkwardness. “Dweeb,” we all agreed, is never a good name, along with “goober.” (Wait, does anyone even use the word “goober?”

So are any of these titles complimentary? Or are we, having finally broken free from the chains of high school and even college, just taking back the dignity that was stolen from us in high school by the jocks?

Alright, alright, I was a jock in high school, even if I was an honors student. But more and more I’m finding that “nerds,” as I call them, are the most interesting, fun people ever!

For example, my new friend Nick is a total nerd. He introduced me to geocaching, he is a Yelp elite user, he participates in every social network ever, and he even joggles.

You read that right. Joggling.

“I went joggling for a mile the other day,” he told me at the end of a Sunday of geocaching. At first I thought he said jogging. I snorted and raised an eyebrow, thinking, “Ooooh a mile!” But then I realized I had misheard. Not jogging, joggling. Joggling is jogging while juggling, he explained. I started laughing, even while he told me that it’s apparently a hard sport, and can bring a participant to tears between trying to watch out for strollers and errant dog poo, and trying to keep three plus balls in the air.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Nick is hugely fun to hang out with. I much prefer him to the sort of blase type whose favorite past time is criticizing others for such grave offenses as having an offbeat personality. Myself having an offbeat personality that I have spent far too long trying to smooth, I appreciate that. I really do.

After all, we all have a little nerd in us. If you don’t, well, then I think you are vapid and soulless and I don’t want to hang out with you. Sorry.

And nerds aren’t just good at computer stuff. Nerds can mean they are especially artistic, or have an insane amount of knowledge on fringe topics. Or they just aren’t afraid to laugh loudly and often about silly things.

Make friends with nerds, and watch your happiness factor sky rocket. Make friends with “cool” people, or “the beautiful people,” and be prepared for the worst experience ever. In fact, a study that came out a couple years ago showed that it’s better to date a nerd. Why? Nerds are being themselves, and cool people are not. They are just trying to fit in, which really is no fun at all. (I heard this on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, aptly enough, since that show is nerd heaven. I can’t find the original source, though. Sorry!)

Nerds are wonderful creatures, capable of making you laugh, showing you new things, and making you feel appreciated, no matter how odd you are. They run shit. They created the Mac Book, which – let’s be honest -makes you feel so cool.  And they are always kind, if not especially suave. I would even venture to say they are charismatic.They make the best dinner conversationalists, they are the person to contact when you are visiting a strange city. They like to share and discover. They. Are. Awesome.

Go! Go find a nerd and make friends! Be prepared for an awesome, enlightening experience. After all, yours truly is a sustainability nerd, and proud of it.


4 Responses to “In Defense of Nerds”

  1. This might help you determine the differences between nerd, geek, dweeb and dork.

  2. Seke Says:

    i think a nerd is how you describe a fun intresting funky personaility and i use it to describe me and my buds because we dont fit in all so well but in an outstanding group where we can label ourselfs and we liked the candy and the name so NERDS we are we even have an inside joke someone will say ‘your such a nerd’ and well put out finger in our mouths and say ‘i dont taste like one’ hahahaha

  3. Corey Says:

    I think that like any other word in the English language, it’s definition is context dependent and community dependent. Even within this blog entry it seems as if you define nerd in multiple ways. Is it a person who does not spend a significant amount of time on their physical appearance? Is it a person who enjoys learning/studying/talking about various academic subjects? Well isn’t every subject considered nerdy except for those related to making money and sports?

    In reality nobody is strictly a nerd and whatever that supposedly entails and nobody is a completely soulless money hungry beautiful person. I love philosophy, science, anime/manga AND I’m a jock and hang out with a variety of people including the “cool” and “beautiful.” Alden while you fancy yourself a nerd I think you also care very much about your external appearance and have a developed and thoughtful fashion sense. Supposedly the mark of a less morally inclined cool person.

    Humans are not easily simplified, we are complicated networks of machinery who take many seemingly contradictory actions.

    Now if you define nerd to be someone who is proud of themselves regardless of the perception of others I agree that is an attractive quality. It’s real confidence, not the manufactured kind.

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