A Google search result (yes, on Wikipedia) for nerd defines it as “a descriptive term indicating that a person is overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy.” And a Google image result for Nerd yields this image:
As entertaining as it is to find pictures of Mr. Boggess in high school online, I feel there is a severe misrepresentation of Nerd Culture. What really is a nerd? Sure, at one time being a “nerd” probably did mean you wore glasses and had a pocket protector and maybe you didn’t necessarily clean when you showered. But, as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a’ changin’.” Some parts of the definition of nerd are still relevant: the interest in science fiction and fantasy, technology, games, and comics. But as time has gone on, it seems like the visual stereotype of nerdiness is dissipating. No longer are nerds the guys who wear glasses and pocket protectors and button-up shirts every day. No longer are nerds severely socially impaired. In fact, I’d argue that being a nerd is steadily becoming the norm.
Think about it: how many people have seen Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?Star Wars is arguably a classic American film at this point, and the movie has spawned a running joke in How I Met Your Mother, a show that appeals to the mainstream public, not a niche group of nerds. Lord of the Rings is well on its way to rising to Star Wars level in American culture, if it hasn’t already. Both of these films have been an inspiration for nerd culture since their respective release dates. In recent years, however, non-nerd groups have embraced the films and the sci-fi and fantasy genres in general with significantly more appreciation for the nerd culture.
Video games have also seen a major increase in mainstream respect. While video games themselves have never been a part of nerd culture specifically, certain sub-genres of games have shown major gains with mainstream success. Specifically, games like Mass Effect and Skyrim have deviated from nerdism and invaded mainstream culture. Whereas you used to only see nerds playing sci-fi and fantasy games, two of the most popular games of 2011 and 2012 were just that–games designed for nerds.
Ultimately, here’s what I’m trying to say: Nerds have evolved. We are no longer the losers that sit in corners at dances and wish we had girlfriends (or boyfriends, respectively). Us nerds, we’ve got a revolution brewing. It’s normal to be a little nerdy now! Everyone is nerdy about something: sports, TV, movies, games, comics, books, technology–whatever it is, we all have our own obsessions. So embrace your nerdiness! Don’t hide it. If you like something, show it off! Everyone is a nerd, so be a nerd.