I recently went down to a bar in town and had a nerd off with some of my friends. We sat at the bar asking each other nerd culture questions and if you answered the question wrong, you had to drink. I should note that I was playing this with two of my friends while the rest of our group were trying very hard to not be associated with us. I should also note that I went out earlier that night for my mom’s birthday and we did sake bombs and the entire staff made fun of me for my inability to chug a sake bomb while my mother flawlessly downed three of them. I offer this anecdote so you get an idea of how bad I am at social drinking interactions.
Any who, the nerd-off questions ran the gamut from “what is the difference between a Slytheen and a Silurian” and “what is xyz in binary” and “verbally code a page in HTML using the following parameters”. All was well and good and socially embarrassing until we got into the quintessential argument of what constitutes nerdiness.
Oh god. I hate this question. It’s as bad as the “what is art?” question you have to answer in every art course ever. It’s a rhetorical question. Bugger off.
I like to think of geekdom and nerddom as two closely related types of phenomenon that should be considered together. In both cultures, the defining characteristic is an unusual level of obsession about something. Generally, geeks are obsessed about things that are not “useful” or likely to make them money or get them a mainstream job – T.V. shows, movies, and video games, for example. Nerds are obsessed about things you could consider more “useful” or intellectual- books, computers, programming, science, and so on. Obviously, there’s a lot of crossover between the two.
Honestly, though, shouldn’t we nerds be supporting each other’s nerdiness rather than competing about it? I hate it when people think you aren’t obsessed enough or nerdy enough because you haven’t seen XYZ show or read XYZ book. Honestly, pipe down. Maybe I haven’t yet but I will. What makes you the defining authority on that subject anyways? Your poorly done fandom tattoo? Your immense collection of overpriced memorabilia? Because it sure as hell isn’t your piss poor attitude, sport.
We nerds need to band together to support each other in our fandoms and obsessions, not gripe about people who aren’t nerdy enough or belittle others for not liking to same nerdy things. If you’re thinking that there’s a must-read checklist of nerddom, shut your face right now. If you say you’re a nerd, you’re a nerd, regardless if you specialize in ancient pottery types or Glee episodes. Sorted.