Nerd in the Country, Part 2: Defining A Nerd
First, I want it to be known that, in my opinion, “nerd” and “geek” are two words for, essentially, the same thing. I believe there was a difference before the technological age hit, but now they are not different enough to separate with different terms. That is only my opinion, you may diverge from me on this, but I have been asked what the difference is, and I don’t think there is one anymore. I prefer the term nerd over geek, but that is only a personal preference.
Now that that has been clarified, I want to talk about what makes a nerd. It is a very simple definition as all people are guilty being a nerd. The primary force of a nerd is passion. Nerds are very passionate (sometimes to an obsessive level) about things that are of interest to them. I’ll give two examples to illustrate the point, one of them to describe the traditional nerd and the other to depict an everyday nerd that non-nerds can identify with:
Traditional Nerd – Traditional nerds are people with a strong passion towards a “nerdy” thing. For this example, I will use myself. I have played Magic: the Gathering since I was 15 (over half of my life) and I really enjoy it! There was a period of a couple of years where I was boycotting the game because they didn’t re-print my favorite card, which made the card illegal to use in tournaments. I am such a fan of the game, that I regularly attend tournaments in nearby towns and I actually have a YouTube show called “Deckbuilder” dedicated to my Magic: the Gathering fandom that I produce for a gaming site I work for. That isn’t the only way in which I identify as a nerd, but it does illustrate the point. Again, a traditional nerd is a person that focuses his or her passion towards pursuits that would, traditionally, be considered nerdy.
Everyday Nerd – Everyday Nerds are people that focus that nerd passion towards a more socially acceptable pursuits. The simplest example of this is sports fandom. I have a friend (yes, an actual human friend!) that is a huge sports fan. I called him a Portland Trailblazer nerd, and he got up in arms about my using the word nerd. I tried explaining to him how I came to this conclusion, and I will reiterate that justification to you here and now. This friend has been a Trailblazers basketball fan since he was a 6-year-old child. The majority of his wardrobe since then has consisted of Trailblazers gear of one form or another and when he went to college, he majored in something that would allow him to work for the Trailblazers. While in college and chasing his dream of working for his favorite team, he started a Blazers fan blog and podcast. He still collects the basketball cards to this day. When he signs up for fantasy basketball every year, he drafts as many Blazers as possible and then trades for more of them. Breaking it down, he has literally spent his life pursuing fandom. That, my dear readers, is a nerd.
The only difference between those two examples, is the focus of that nerd passion. Other types of everyday nerds consist of people who paint themselves in various green and yellow to attend an Oregon Ducks game or black and orange to attend an OSU Beavers game. Those examples are geographically contextual for me, but you should see my point and be able to extrapolate it in a way that makes good sense to you, whether you’re a traditional or an everyday nerd.
Another quality that I see in nerds, is that they are, generally speaking, smarter than the average bear. They are passionate about things and research those things exhaustively to find out more. An everyday nerd may love racing and be interested in the mechanical workings of a race car. So they start tinkering around with engines and end up learning a lot about internal combustion based solely on the idea of expanding their knowledge of racing. Traditional nerds that love Doctor Who end up learning a lot about physics and space simply because they are intrigued with the idea of time travel. In both cases, their nerdism has expanded their overall knowledge of things that are somewhat related to the thing they nerd out about. Non-nerds don’t experience this, as they are not interested in expanding their knowledge, they are usually too focused on drinking, fist pumping to techno music and trying to get every sexually transmitted disease known to man. Let’s be honest, those people haven’t made it this far into this blog post because they can’t read.
That is how I define a nerd. It may be different from your definition (especially if you’re one of the Jersey Shore types I just described above) but that is the definition that will be applied to the following “Nerd in the Country” blog posts. With that, I ask a question of you, goodly reader, in what way are you a nerd? Leave your responses in the comments below or share your nerdism/geekery with me on Google+ or Twitter.
Posted on July 1, 2012, in Geek, Nerd, Nerd in the Country and tagged albany, alloy matt, defining nerd, geek, in the country, matt jacobs, nerd, oregon, types of nerds. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.