A war has been raging for many moons. It’s a battle of wits, a battle of logic, a battle of the most intellectually savvy, yet most socially inept. Today, ladies and gentlemen I speak on the War of ‘what is the best and worst kind of Nerd’. This has always been an issue and a hard reality that we nerds face. It recently came to the forefront in my recent adventures in LA. We are blessed with the E3 video game convention as well as the Anime convention. I was struck by how normal the video game nerds were compared to the anime nerds.
It made me ponder.
Is there a natural order in the nerd kingdom? Is it possible to be a worse nerd than another nerd? After extensive research ..aka people watching and interviewing nerds.
I am prepared to present The Definitive Nerd Order.
One may inquire as to the necessity of such a list. Well, I submit that some of us social awkward types may not understand how much and when the inner nerd should he revealed to coworkers, new friends and new love interests. I suggest that the lower you place on this list the longer you should wait to reveal that part of the inner dungeon of your nerdiness.
To truly delve into the argument, one must first understand what a nerd is. Wikipedia, one of the reputable torch bearers for pop culture, defines a nerd as:
“..an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit. Nerds are generally considered to be awkward, shy and/or unattractive by most, although this is not always true. Thus, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by others, or will tend to associate with a small group of like-minded people, although again, this is not always the case.”
A geek is not to be confused with a nerd. A geek is an otherwise normal and contributing member to society,having life in order, etc. In their case, they are just infuatuated with that one specific topic. My strong belief is that every person is a geek about one thing or another. I have 2 questions I ask to those that haven’t identified their inner geek:
-”what’s your thing? What is one thing that if you take this one single thing away you will no longer be.. you”
-”assume you’re talking to a complete stranger in idle conversation, you’re being courteous and chatting but are bored, what’s one subject that they could bring up that would make you interested in the conversation ?”
I don’t place geeks on the hierarchy but if anywhere they would place a little bit above closet nerds. Geeks are easily acceptable by society as they are balanced with social life, job etc. A nerd on the other hand will restructure life , social life, job, friends and/or freetime to accommodate their obsession. The fundamental difference is that a nerd will neglect certain aspects of life to delve into their passion.
The defining difference in on simple word: “balance”
Without further adieu, let’s dive in:
Common name: The Closet Nerd.
The closet nerd is that friend or coworker who on the surface may seem like just a geek. You may not know what they do with their free time. They are perfectly normal, contributing members of society.. that’s until you scratch the surface. When you ask about their weekend, they tell you they were sitting inside all weekend watching Dr. Who. Or if you manage to get a look at their phone there’s a bunch of Science Fiction podcasts, view their Facebook and all of their favorite books, movies or quotes are Science Fiction.
Caveat: Although, in this case, I am describing the closet nerd as a specific type of nerd, it can also be a blanket term for most of the nerd species on the Hierarchy. i.e. ” closet scifi nerd”, “closet video game nerd”, etc.
This is a tricky one. This is a nerd who may, in fact not be a nerd at all. Ladies might understand this one better. Imagine, if you will, you find a nice well-rounded and down to earth guy, things are going well and then he introduces you to all of his best friends. They are all hardcore nerds with minimal lives and social skills. Now, one may ask why I rank this poor nerd lower than the closet nerd. The simple answer is that the closet nerd may be a nerd but they know how to keep it under control with friends that may be perfectly normal. The nerd by association on the other hand is less acceptable by society for the simple reason that most people can bare one nerd that keeps it under control. But no one, outside of the nerd realm, can deal with a constant onslaught of nerdy quotes, statistics and arguments.
The Intellectual Nerd
This particular family of nerds is amongst the more stereo typical nerds. This is the nerd who is obsessed with specific facets of intellectualism. Common subjects being. Math, Science, Foreign Affairs etc. A pop culture example being Steve Urkel from Family Matters (TV). It’s the quintessential nerd. That nerd that, because they had no life, spent all night doing homework and at the end of class reminds the teacher she didn’t collect the homework. These nerds are harmless for the most part, just annoying. When asking them a simple mathematical or various intellectual questions they will answer the question by giving you a lecture on the subject. These nerds are considered this high on the list because, although they display many of the same characteristics as their counterparts lower on the list. These are real and industrious subjects that pertain to the real world. I don’t know about you but I would rather have a man or woman with no social life and nothing to do designing my weapons systems and nuclear devices than a socialite who procrastinates after a long night of drinking.
The Cultural Nerd
(More Commonly Refered to “Hipsters“)
These are nerds of a similar vein as intellectual nerds, they will also go on a long lecture as opposed to answering a question directly. Their interests lie more in the indie band, art, literature, photography, theater sectors. These are very very different creatures than any other nerd in this list. Nerdius culturalis can be broken into two basic sub species. “Iphone Hipster” and “Dirty Hipster”
- IPhone Hipster can be found at your local coffee shop. Although they will protest the corporate nature of Starbucks ruining the small local coffee shop. Their lifestyle depends on a relaxed social environment where they can sit and judge people without social interaction. They will often wear plaid shirts, non prescription glasses and skinny jeans. They will protest the pretentiousness of modern society and the corporate takeover of the world . Usually blogging on Tumblr about it from the mac and or Iphone. They are a walking contradiction. They scour at modern society and many of those in it. At the Same time, they do not mind whole heartedly embracing the trappings and creature comforts of that very society. They are many times extremely sarcastic and petty. They will often look frown on others who take pride in their appearance while in fact taking longer to get ready in the morning to look like they didn’t try. They compete with each other on who is less mainstream, often by proving they found the latest under ground band on iTunes. PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) and dive bars are the order of business for these most curious of nerds.
- Dirty Hipster: Now, the value system of the Dirty Hipster is much the same as the Iphone Hipster they are simply fundamentalists. Where the Iphone Hipster will scoff at Corporate America, yet buy the latest Apple gadgets, The Dirty Hipster will unplug, some not having cell phones etc. Where the Iphone Hipster will look down on the pretentious and then spend an hour looking like they don’t care, the dirty Hipster will wear their parents hand me down clothes from 1978. Instead of trying to look like they don’t care they will purposely wear matching or absoltuly hideous clothes to prove they don’t care. The Dirty Hipster finds regular dive bars too mainstream. They will often search for a bar where your wallet could be stolen and/or you could be stabbed.
The Video Game Nerd
Now this is a nerd many of us have come to know and love. The video game industry is now bigger than the film industry. With that, it necessarily follows that there will be a swell of this variety of nerd. If we had to look at my initial journey into nerdom I would have to say that I was ushered into the wonderful world of nerds with video games first. When I was a young warthog, it was hard to find a decent game magazine on the shelf. We would be happy to find Gamepro or Video Game Informer. One didn’t dare tell how many video games they played or let the opposite sex scope out the Final Fantasy VII Walkthrough guide you hid in your backpack. Although, as a crew we spent many nights playing Mario Kart 64 or Goldeneye into the wee hours, theses days the stakes are higher. These days, the hours we poured into those games only would be a hard geek. Today it takes a different type of nerd. I am speaking of the video game nerd who spends countless hours plugged into a Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games. Known by the “Cool Kids”(or not) as an MMORPG. An example of this known with disdain by many a slighted girlfriend, the runaway hit “World of Warcraft“. Make no mistake, MMORPGs have been straining relationships for years. “Ultima Online” and “Everquest” to name a couple. It has never been to the point of WoW, though . In my immediate group alone I know 2 men that lost their girlfriends and one who failed from college over the game. The internet is rampant with these stories. The game and MMORPGS seeped into the internet generation’s collective conciousness. Its gotten to a point where interested young women will ask early on whether a guy is into the game. These used to be 3rd or 4th date questions. No more. 1st date, these inquisitive young ladies wanna know early on whether they will be splitting time with imaginary Litch Kings or Scantaly Clad elven maidens.
The Comic Book Nerd
This lovable nerd has held a place in the culture and history of America for many years. Comic books, throughout it’s history has had an intense lack of respect, especially until the 80s. G.I.’s read comics in the Second World War, helping them escape, if only temporarily. The war ended and reading went on. The 50s to the 70s were it’s heyday. Many of the famous comic book characters and storylines used in films today out came from that era. Why am I explaining the history? Simply put, this is predominantly the geekdom of our fathers. We now live in an age of iPads, Computers and hand held super phones. Comics don’t hold special place that it did in our parents time. A time when a comic stand could be found on any corner. As comics themselves (not film, characters, or any consumer product) decline so does the understanding for it by the aging internet generation. It can be argued that in a decade of Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman these geeks are having their run of the roost. Again, not speaking of anything other than the actual comics and not speaking of casual admirers. Case and point, a non comic book geek will have a conversation with you about what else they know about the comic after watching a comic book film. A comic nerd will not let you leave the conversation without explaining the reasons the film was wrong, why it was better when a certain author wrote it etc.
The Fantasy Nerd
I will simply graze over this infamous nerd as I spent nearly an entire post explaining my byist opinion in relation to them. (Link: “Fantasy, Science Fictions illegitimate step child?” ) . The Fantasy Nerd has been around for many moons in the American conscious. It returned to the forefront with Peter Jackson’s “Lord of The Rings” trilogy. These nerds are harmless enough, just not understood by society to its fullest extent. This is demonstrated especially well with “community” (TV), the Dungeons and Dragons episode. Intro Seen Below:
Note: I sense a slight upswing in their acceptability in the coming months. Due mostly to the explosive success of HBO‘s fantasy series “Game of Thrones“. (Trailer Seen Below)
The Anime Nerd
As we approach the end of this noble list, we begin to reach into the depths of Nerdom. The anime nerd is a prime example. Weirdicus, more than any other genre is willing to dress up like their favorite character whether or not it’s acceptable and or they even look like them. Anime, itself can be good. The 90s seeing a huge swell in the import of anime into American culture, classics being “Akira” and “Ghost in The Shell”. Giving credit where its due, the forefathers of what would become much of the tone of and practices of the internet generation, including integration of technology into social life, was pioneered by anime nerds man moons ago. I sense a resurgence and more acceptance in the coming years with the live action production of an anime classic “Akira“.
The Greatest Nerd
Nerds don’t get worse than this. Hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen. Some classes of nerdius maximus are so nerdy they aren’t even known by society.
First, what is nerdius maximus, it’s a nerd who unknowingly or purposely blurs the line between reality and the world in which they wish to reside. A simple and common example:
Star Trek Weddings
Star trek being more easily understood to the lesser geeks of you out there. Nerdius Maximus isn’t necessarily the guy which has a model of the starship enterprise on his desk, maybe not even the guy that has a Klingon Bat’leh (Weapon) hanging on his wall.
No No No
He is the guy that teaches himself the fighting style with it. He’s the guy that doesn’t just enjoy the Klingon focused episodes of Star Trek, he’s the guy that teaches himself how to speak Klingon. Not the guy who has a picture of the enterprise in his living room, he’s the guy who had his livingroom modeled like the bridge of the ship. Apply this mindset to anything nerdy and this embodies maximus.
Now that that’s covered, I must reveal to you a state of Nerdiness so low that most lack knowledge of its existence. In the few short years that I’ve known of it, I’ve met only one nerd who’s admitted to it. Live Action Role Playing (LARP-ing) apparently has been around for many years but hit a high in the last few years with the advent of the nerd who wet their fantasy genre whistle with WoW.
Illustrated in the film “Role Models” here:
LARPING as explained by wikipedia:
” is a form of role-playing game where the participants physically act out their characters’ actions. The players pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world, while interacting with each other in character. The outcome of player actions may be mediated by game rules, or determined by consensus among players. Event arrangers called gamemasters decide the setting and rules to be used and facilitate play.”
Basically, an organized make believe event for adults who never grew up.
It might be better illustrated by this video:
I will admit, I can see the good in every single one of these categories of nerd. I get it, I consider myself a “jack-of-all-nerds”. At one point in my life I have been on almost any one of these rungs (minus LARPING). This is meant as more of a guide to maneuver your Nerdiness in polite society. For all the good and the bad associated with being a nerd one must never forget one simple truth. In the age of phones that would have only fit a high rise building when some of our parents were born, it only becomes a better and better world for our kind.
One must understand, This is the age of the nerd
-Brandon M. Brevard