confessions

construx connotationz: Is Ian a Nerd?

5:37:00 PMConstrux Nunchux

What is a Nerd?
When ridiculing nerds, or mocking them, or provoking them, we often find ourselves at a loss to describe what exactly a nerd is and does.  Nerd stands as a uniquely elusive word because it not only applies to a particular social dysfunction, but also to a broad range of specific ailments (we will look at geeks, dweebs, and spazzes in upcoming weeks). It is a broad, inclusive term.  A nerd is a nerd, but not all nerds are nerds.

So for the sake of clarification, and hopefully universal acceptance, I provide this (hopefully) brief guideline on how to identify nerds.  The first, and easier, differentiation is that of the genus or class of nerd and how it functions.  Although it may seem nerdly to some to research the etymology of nerd, and I will not do so here, I strongly encourage all our chasers to do so.  In general, common use, nerd traditionally refers to anyone lacking in social skills, but unlike an outcast or a loner, the species nerd is aware of the abberation and uneasy with it.  Eager to fit in, a nerd (species) magnifies a quirk or characteristic, or overextends the knowledge he does possess beyond a useful degree, in a sweaty attempt to fill the gap and be accepted.

What makes nerds offensive is their use of specified knowledge to elevate themselves.  Nerds tend to reject others (normals) before they can be rejected and base unfounded aggression on years of perceived slights.  Instead of looking to counteract this through a positive application of their skill set, they look to alienate and humiliate others.  Nerds never hesitate to point out when a term is used incorrectly or a word is pronounced wrong, even if the overall point remains the same. They actually get angry at misappropriation or popularization of their beloved tomes (traditionally, this falls into the realm of comics, gaming and sci-fi literature).  Hipsters are actually a type of nerd, protecting the little slice of a world in which they are too inept to otherwise function. 
As with so many other disparaging terms that have undergone the reclamation process in our post-modern age, not only do nerds feel safe being nerds, but normal people prefer to reefer to themselves as nerds, often of a specified variety, indicating their particular area of expertise, so as to stand for a falsely applied humility.  In reaction to this, real nerds have not become more relaxed in their vigilant defense.  They have only added an air of smugness to their prickly demeanor, knowing that their technical abilities (be they music nerds, tech nerds or even sports nerds--Pierre McGuire, I'm looking at you) will secure them well-paying jobs in a culture that prizes instant information, niche knowledge and fun facts over all else, augmented by the entitled exclusivity that comes with poring over a topic needlessly for years instead of interacting with other humans.

Is Ian A Nerd?

Short answer, No.  Care to disagree?  Depends on how long you've known me.  It's very true--and Paul can attest to this--that in my youth, my teens and early adulthood, I couldn't help do exactly what I described above.  Out of insecurity, I took every opportunity to spout off about David Bowie's real name, the exact release date and line-up of 200 Motels or every episode of [any well-known early 80's BBC comedy].  And don't get me started on The Beatles.  An easy way to rile me up in high school was simply to say you didn't like them and my voice became terse and high pitched and my cheeks a pinchy red. As you can imagine, I was no fun to be around.  No one, not even me, benefitted from what I knew because it was only self-servicing, and I had no ability to enjoy any social situation others were kind enough to allow me into.

I truly like to think I've grown out of that.  I still read a lot, don't go out much, and have trouble making friends, but all for different reasons, now.  I don't try to push away people or lord what little intellectualism I actually possess over anyone.  It's true, I do make the occasional obscure reference, but I can't recall recently doing so to belittle someone.  Inadvertently, though I tend to get bristly about topics such as human nature and animal abuse.  That's when I start to talk fast and stutter and clench my fists and interrupt others.  I sincerely think the key to curing nerdiness is to stop taking oneself seriously, understand we're all going to die and that it'll be much much sooner than we think.  I recommend the following example as an example to follow:

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