// Posted by on 01/31/2012 (11:09 PM)

In class last week we had a discussion about how those who typically excel in the field of technology are often deemed as nerds. I think this is an interesting phenomena that deserves more exploring.

Lewis, Gilbert, and Booger from the 1984 comedy "Revenge of the Nerds

First, we need to fully understand what a nerd is. For that, let us reference urban dictionary. In this situation I consider urban dictionary to be the most reliable source for how the general public uses the term. Its a site devoted to defining American slang and it is written and editing by its readers.

According to urban dictionary a nerd is. . .

1. One whose IQ exceeds his weight.

2. An individual persecuted for his superior skills or intellect, most often by people who fear and envy him.

3. An ‘individual’, i.e. a person who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obesssion with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.

4. A stereotypical label used to describe a person that is socially inadequate. A four letter word, but a six figure income.

5. A person who gains pleasure from amassing large quantities of knowledge about subjects often too detailed or complicated for most other people to be bothered with.

Often mistaken for Geeks, who aspire to become nerds, yet lack the intelligence, and end up giving nerds a bad name due to their poor social skills.

Non-nerds are often scared of nerds, due to their detailed knowledge, and therefore seemingly high levels of intelligence – and subsequently denegrate them as much as possible as often as possible.

Nerds exist covertly within the fabric of society, often choosing to ‘nerd it up’ in private or in the company of fellow nerds. It is for this reason they are feared the most – unlike geeks, who are easily identified, nerds can only be found out when casual conversation reaches a subject that they like nerding.


Note the repeated emphasis on a nerd’s massive quantity of knowledge, coupled with his/her massive amounts of money.

In our society these two qualities seem to go together often.A very smart individual is considered a social outcast because of their gifted intelligence, but they become monetarily successful because of exactly the qualities which make them an outcast. Hence the reason for shirts like this one.

But even though they are successful and valuable to society, nerds still seem to get a bad rep. Take a look at this clip from the John Stewart show that we talked about last week. (Go to 3.26) Members of Congress have no idea what they’re talking about in regards to SOPA and they refer to those who do have a clue (aka those who are more intelligent and better able to understand the task at hand than they are) as nerds. John Stewart is quick to correct them and have a laugh at their expense, but the negative connotation of the word “nerd” is still there.

Moral of the story: Nerds are people too. And without nerds, our society would be nowhere near as advanced as it is today. So its about time the world starts showing a little appreciation.

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Molly said...

I agree that the term “Geek” gives nerds a bad reputation but other than that misunderstanding, I think people have started to appreciate nerds. Instead of seeing nerds as people who lack social skill, many people see them as being intelligent, often intimidatingly so, and successful. Anyone who is running a company or considered an expert on a topic would fall under that category of nerd, and would probably be celebrated for it. When I think about what kind of person I want to lead my country, be my boss, and advise me in the future…all I’m sure of is that I want them to be a nerd.

// 02/01/2012 at 1:04 pm

Gilberte said...

Perfect advice! I have been looking for something like this for some time now. Appreciate it!

// 02/13/2012 at 3:54 am