I'm a nerd, or a geek.1 I don't try to hide it--it's right there in my bio, if you couldn't guess from the glasses I'm wearing. I'm proud of it. And I'm SO happy to be currently living in a world that celebrates nerds, at least in some ways. When I was in grammar school, let's just say nerds were not celebrated.
*uncomfortable flashback to grammar school lunchroom*
Whew. Okay, zoom right past THAT. Nothing to see there.
Anyway. I've been thinking lately about how varied, and accepting, the geek world is--and how even if they don't realize it, or own it, most people I know and love are geeks in some way. It started with a quote @MarthaMihalick posted on Twitter (via @brainpicker):
"Being a geek is all about your own personal level of enthusiasm, not how your level of enthusiasm measures up to others. If you like something so much that a casual mention of it makes your whole being light up like a halogen lamp, if hearing a stranger fondly mention your favorite book or game is instant grounds for friendship, if you have ever found yourself bouncing out of your chair because something you learned blew your mind so hard that you physically could not contain yourself — you are a geek."As I read that, I thought THAT IS SO ME. I don't hide enthusiasm for the things I love. I bounce and squee and grin like a fool at the TV as Sherlock is figuring something out or Chuck kisses Sarah. It's the open, shining enthusiasm that makes a geek, the obsession with little details, the fascination with all things related to whatever we love. It does make us easy to pick on, to mock--but it also keeps us stocked up with joy.
Over the years I've changed the things I'm geeky about. Of course it's books...it was always books. I've been a book nerd since I could hold one in my little hands, or have my own library card. But I've also been a ballet nerd. A drama geek. A Shakespeare geek specifically. (Even a Chaucer geek! I wrote a book called The Murderess's Tale, set in 1387 England...) A science geek. (Wait, I'm still that too!) A brain science geek. I learned to program computers in Basic in 7th grade. My husband and I were obsessed with Myst, once upon a time, and that Frankenstein video game we still quote. I love Princess Bride and Star Wars (the originals, of course) and Star Trek Enterprise. I'm crazy about Buffy and Jason Bourne and, of course, Chuck.
Sometimes I doubt my nerd cred, because I don't like Doctor Who, and I'm not a particular fan of high fantasy. I've never read George R.R Martin. But you know what, nerds? That's OKAY. To call yourself a nerd you don't have to ascribe to all the same things as everyone else you know...you just need to love what you love, unabashedly.
My husband, in spite of playing a few video games here and there, doesn't think of himself as a nerd--he doesn't like fantasy or science fiction, and he doesn't geek out over shows and movies like I do. BUT he's a total airplane nerd. If there's a show or a book or a website about airplanes, he's on it. If you ask him a question about the P-47's use in WWII and how the handling compares to the P-51, he knows. I think that qualifies.
I think maybe because geeks/nerds are a little out of the realm of the real world in their own ways, they recognize and appreciate the nerdiness of others, even if it's not about the same thing. So yeah, Star Wars geeks might make fun of Trekkies (Trekkers, I know), but in the end they are in the same camp, on the same side. The passionate side of life.
What do you think, fellow nerds? What are you passionate about? What flips your switch? Has it changed over the years?
And do you think nerds are more accepting of other nerds, even with different passions, than non-nerds are? Or are we all just in our separate nerd camps, with some overlap?
Live long and prosper, and Don't Freak Out.
1I tried to decide if I was really one or the other based on this article (http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Nerds-and-Geeks), but I don't think the differences they cite are valid. I fall into both and neither, as described! So I'm using them interchangeably. So there.