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What is a nerd?

Discussion in 'Nerd Out Zone' started by Restless, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. Restless

    Restless Terraformer

    • Member
    Ok, second try since my hands, mouse and keyboard conspired against me to make a series of errors that resulted in me accidentally deleting everything I had just typed while trying to save what little text remained and then accidentally deleting that too.

    What is a nerd?

    The definition of nerd seems to differ wherever you go. When I was growing up being called a nerd was one of the worst things that could happen because it was effectively seen as treachery against your fellow students and siding with the teachers. Nobody wanted to admit they studied or paid attention, not even the smart ones (especially not the smart ones) because the punishments could get very physical and could go on for years or until graduation. The word nerd was used to dehumanize people, often used by ring-leaders against people they didn't like so that others would feel less empathy. It was easier for kids to abuse another when they saw them as something less than human.

    I never got called a nerd because frankly I just wasn't that smart (though I did genuinely like to learn). I got off lightly with the label psycho (I only got that because someone spread a false rumour of me trying to stab someone I'd never even met) which I didn't fit but it kept people from wanting to pick on me physically.

    I get the impression that the definition of nerd is quite different in America and that American highschoolers are not quite so caught up in teacher hate, labelling and silly cliques as kids over here in Britain are. I get the impression that in at least some parts of America the word nerd doesn't come with such vicious and violent dehumanization and some even wear it as a badge of pride, ignoring the nay-sayers. But I also get the impression that it has less to do with smarts and more to do with being interested in things such as anime, games and computers. I don't think high school kids in America would randomly call, say, an astrophysicist a nerd, but they might call a programmer a nerd.

    Am I right about this?

    Bear in mind I really don't care that much about labels (I wouldn't put any label on myself for anything) but they do exist and I've always seen contradictions over what people regard as a nerd, especially more so now that it is becoming a popular trend. When people call themselves a nerd nowadays what do they mean?
  2. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    I believe Will Wheaton perfectly summarises my thoughts on this in these two speeches:

    I must add that I have been very lucky myself, I have always gone to schools and colleges where being smart is good and considered good. Hell, we compete against one another to see who is the smartest where I went to education. There have always been those that were the stereotypical "jock" - that's an American term, so not sure if I am using it correctly (I get the term from Canis Canem Edit) - who were more interested in physical activities than getting super high grades, but they weren't terrible people, not on the scale of other schools nearby to mine; where in my school the worst you could expect was verbal insults, in these other schools, you could spend time in hospital because of the same sort of people. I have had tremendous luck as far as this goes, and I do believe it is the sole reason I am able to apply to some of the best universities in the world - if I had stayed at the primary school I was first at (which was one of these schools I mentioned about being hospitalised for being a nerd) I would certainly have ended up very very different, would likely not be here today and would certainly not have developed the passion I have today for computers, physics and history.

    In fact, to take that last sentence further, I would say that those who are not nerds are those that go without passions, I would dare say a nerd is anyone with a supreme passion for something, or some things. This ties in rather nicely with the former of those two videos I linked!
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
    PsychoticLeprechaun, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited by PsychoticLeprechaun; at Apr 21, 2014
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  3. joppiesaus

    joppiesaus Infamous Space-Octopus

    • Member
    This is how I define it:
    Well in my country(the Netherlands), there are two types of nerds. They are both called the same(nerd), so I define them like this: NERD and nerd: both are basically different from the others.
    If you get called a nerd, you have a bad, bad reputation. You are loved under the teachers, you want to be the best at all times, you have little friends, you are very studious, and, you have often little friends. Why? Because you have a very erritating personality. I am a kind of NERD, and I even don't like nerds. nerds are often the the ones who get picked on(more than a NERD to me), and socially akward.
    nerds don't have to be "smart" at all(they try to be), even though called a "nerd".

    When you are a NERD, you are often "smart". You are either VERY notable in society, or you try not to be very notable. You have other NERD friends, you like the "nerdy" things(Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek, gadgets...). NERDs often like computers and they like any form of science. you don't have to be curious(NERDs are often, but not always notable), but it's possible. NERDs often don't like changing things. You have probably a different clothing style like others.

    Being a nerd is probably confusing. You don't know what you love, you don't have much friends... But once you get older you know what you like. My advice is just continue what you like in life, and everything may get better. I don't know yet what's special about these people, but I think within these nerds there's a little NERD inside.

    Being a NERD has benefits: You know what you like(I LOVE science and computers!)! That's awesome! Most teenagers don't know what they really like or love.(as explained in PsychoticsLeprachaun's video) Yes, of course some people like for example basketball! But there defenetly are people who don't know what they like. And that's why NERDs often get picked on. Because you are different! But you should not feel bad of it because you simply can't do anything about it. And it's not they do it because you are different, it's often something within the bullies themselves. I don't really know what, but it has to do with that they feel sad themselves. And when that happens, the person tries to pick it's weakesd target(the one whose the most different from the others), and bully it in someway.
    It's okay to be different. I'd rather be different than being a person who wears the same clothes as it's "friends" because you are unsure about yourself.

    That's how I see it. But it's difficult to explain it, but I hope it helps to read.

    Well I realize this now: being called a nerd can also be just a label because you don't fit in any other categories at school(even if you don't feel a nerd at all). That's a reason why you can get picked on. It's just for the weird ones.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
    joppiesaus, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited by joppiesaus; at Apr 25, 2014
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  4. Benjamin

    Benjamin Lead Developer

    • Dev Leader
    This is an awesome thread. I like thought provoking posts. I should be studying, but eh.

    I was definitely part of the "Nerd" group in high school, not because I was a programmer (didn't start that until senior year), but because I was a socially awkward geek (also in band). But I never really got picked on for that, probably because the school was fairly nice for a public school. Don't get me wrong, people talked about me. But I understand why they did, I was a really weird kid. It has taken a lot of thought and learning through trial-by-error to figure out how to not be "weird".

    Some people are just more different than others, and so they get alienated from the majority. In my experience, the word "Nerd" doesn't mean smart guy, or computer geek, because there were some really popular people who fit into those categories. Nerd was more reserved for those who were strange, or those who dressed "nerdy". I never really heard the word Nerd much in high school to be honest. I would say that "weird" was the goto word to describe people like me.

    Yay for sharing!
  5. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Haha, I can safely say I never managed to succeed at the "not being weird" aspect of social life. I just managed to find a tonne of friends who are equally insane in school and college, and a few who just have to put up with my shenanigans!
  6. Causeless

    Causeless narcissistic, machiavellian and sadistic

    • Moderator
    ugh, this thread has so many nerds in it
  7. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    Arctic, Apr 29, 2014
    Last edited by Arctic; at Apr 29, 2014
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  8. tetryds

    tetryds cus tet, that's it

    • Member
    So if a nerd dies early the life will suck.
    I rather be happy when I can do something than when I'm too old for it.
    But I'm still a nerd so I'm doomed.
  9. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    I think the message is that nerds are overall happier than "Normal" people.
  10. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    Of course we are! At least, if you subscribe to the definition of "nerd" being attributed to anyone with a passion, and pretty much everyone with a passion they can actively pursue are also happier (and also more visibly a nerd) would mean that on average, being a nerd should also mean you are happier!
  11. tetryds

    tetryds cus tet, that's it

    • Member
    Yeah, but not all nerds have such active control about their feelings.
    Even more if they are supressed when young, and have low self esteem.
    Same happens if they are overrewarded, some become arrogant.
    But a true nerd never falls into temptation.
    NeonSturm likes this.
  12. gutza1

    gutza1 Kerbal Overlord

    • Member
    It's hard to define what a nerd is, but I know that I am one.
    1. I know a lot about science(especially space), and I'm learning algorithms and programming and I'm only 13.
    2. I play Kerbal Space Program:D.
    3. My friends are colledge students (who share my interests).
    4. I am a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons (My first experience was with the Next playtest in January, where I met my "friends". Now I go to play D&D Encounters at the nearest store every week:clever:).
  13. tetryds

    tetryds cus tet, that's it

    • Member
    It's nice to have friends who share interests.
    My real life friends just care about beer and girls.
    Mainly about beer...
  14. Gingy

    Gingy Back Into Space

    • Member
    I feel the Will Wheaton speeches kind of sum my definition up better than I could, but I feel a nerd is simply someone is passionate about things a bit more complex than the average person. I feel a geek is part of a separate group and is, for lack of a better description, someone who is a "casual" nerd.

    Fortunately, I was never really bullied in school for just being a nerd, but it was one single thing in a plethora of things I was bullied for. Thankfully, the bullying stopped for the most part towards the end of my freshmen year in high school. I believe a lot of this is a mix of kids having better things to worry about, being too concerned with impressing seniors for some reason, and a slight mental maturity. I also believe it has something to do with the fact that where I went to school when I was in high school was very poor. You didn't have as many of these elitist kids who care about nothing more than expensive clothes, sex, and sports because they were a bit more concerned about financial things.
  15. tetryds

    tetryds cus tet, that's it

    • Member
    Yeah, now that you said it, geeks fit pretty well as casual nerds, or "nerds" only about something very specific.
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