As a self proclaimed uber geek and nerdfighter, I find the difference that people claim between the two labels to be interesting. I know a lot of geeks who would sooner stab themselves with a lightsaber than call themselves a nerd, and nerds who would rather sell their entire comic book collection than be called a geek. Personally, I don’t think there’s a real difference other than personal preference.
Dictionary.com defines the terms as:
–noun Slang .
a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.
an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.
–noun Slang .
a computer expert or enthusiast (a term of pride as self-reference, but often considered offensive when used by outsiders.)
a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual.
a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I bit off the heads of live chickens… but maybe that’s just me. Both of these definitions seem to be rather negative, like being a nerd or a geek is a BAD thing, something to be chastised for, or as someone who isn’t worth getting to know. Dislikable? Stupid and irritating? Talk about harsh words to describe someone.
Not only that, but both definitions use the example of someone who is great with computers as a defining characteristic. Not all Geeks or Nerds are experts at computers. Even if they are, chances are, they are going to hate fixing your computer, so I’d recommend not asking, unless they’re really good friends.
The stereotypical nerd is the guy in the front of the class room with his pocket protector, thick rimmed glasses, bad acne, and extra homework that he requested from the teacher sitting on his desk. He’s the guy that people shove into lockers and garbage cans, and the person that always gets persuaded to doing homework for the ditzy cheerleader that is too busy getting busy with her jock boyfriend to do it herself.
Granted, that the radical-stereotype, but when you hear the word ‘nerd’, in your head, that’s what you think… right?
Instead, in the real world, nerds are the people who are not only smart but tend to have a range of intellectual interests. Books, technology, politics, generally things that one might talk to a fellow nerd over a nice cup of chai tea. Not to say that nerds don’t enjoy video games and other silly things too. I mean, look at the Vlogbrothers, princes of all nerd-dom. One week they’re having in-depth discussions about NASA and the Water Crisis in Haiti, the next week they’re talking about what makes a person qualified to send them to the ‘Evil Baby Orphanage’.
But here’s my question. When you hear the word ‘Geek’… what do you picture? Do you picture a balding, over-weight, middle aged man sitting in his mothers basement only illuminated by the light of his computer screen, with stacks and stacks of comic books and strategy guides lining the walls? Or do you picture something similar to the above?
In my experience those that call themselves ‘Geeks’ tend to be more focused on the entertainment side of things. Video Games, Sci-Fi Movies and TV shows, computers (both building them and playing them), huge music catalogs, and long, in-depth conversations about the ‘Han Shot First Theory’.
Clearly not every nerd or geek fit perfectly into each of these categories. Some may be a nerd with geek like tendencies, or the other way around. Personally, I fit into the nerd/geek category. My love of the written word and technology, combined with my
obsession adoration of sci-fi tv shows and RPG video games puts me on both sides of the fence.
I know that a lot of us who are labeled as Geeks or Nerds, just let the label roll off us and continue with our lives as we want to. Something that we’ve had to perfect over time, and although as we grow older, the terms go from being insults to being something that we openly call ourselves, but I still wonder…
Why do people consider being a geek or a nerd to be a bad thing? The terms are almost always used as an insult, whether we take it that way or not. Without geeks and nerds we wouldn’t have iPods, or the computers, or Facebook, or pretty much anything else you can think of that you use on a daily basis. All if it, most likely thought up by a nerd or a geek.
So embrace your inner Nerd or Geek. Play a video game. Have a marathon of your favorite tv show, no matter the genre. Read a book in a genre you’ve never tried before. Explore the depths of a computer game you’ve had but never gotten into. Create something truly geek/nerdtastic in Photoshop or Paint. Don’t be afraid to be what you are. Trust me, everyone has a little bit of Geek or Nerd in them somewhere… Let your geek flag fly.
To help you embrace your inner geek/nerd, I’m going to suggest a few things: