Nerd Is The Word

The Star Wars Episode 7 chatter has recently been flooding the internet and this Jedi is way too excited than any 25-year-old man should be for a story about super-powered monks with laser swords and alien dogs who communicate by wailing and throwing tantrums.

Nerd

Photo Credit: katybate / Creative Commons

I’m a nerd.

Not your stereotypical short-sleeve, plaid shirt with a pocket protector and thick brimmed glasses nerd. A nerd for science fiction books and movies that take me to far reaches of the universe, or alternative worlds with high tech weaponry and strange looking creatures.

Our friends at Merriam-Webster Dictionary define nerd as an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially : one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.

If we head over to Dictionary.com they describe a nerd with words such as stupid, irritating, intellectual, unattractive, boring or unpopular, and being obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.

How rude.

I would like to reformulate some of these words to concoct my own definition for the modern-day meaning of nerd. A nerd is someone who full-heartedly commits him or herself to a passion, enduring whatever criticism or adversity that stands in the way of that passion.

And that’s exactly what a nerd is, someone who is ridiculed for liking something too much, for being different and not following the status quo.

People may ostracize nerds for the way they look or act or dress, but I realized that the primary reason for this criticism is actually a combination of concern, irritation, jealousy or thinking a person is crazy for taking risks on a passion that generally yields poor financial results.

After all, most people follow the safe route by going to school, getting a 9 to 5 and making good money. Family members and friends might see a loved one struggle to bring in a steady paycheck, while some critics don’t like the fact that a nerd might actually succeed and overshadow them.

However, in today’s day-and-age I tend to hear comments such as: “Why are you trying to write, there’s no money in that.” Who can blame them I guess, when we are constantly bombarded with articles on the highest paying jobs for every known demographic or field.

I relate this to nerds, because nerds are the ones that get ridiculed, the ones that aren’t cool and never pursue ideas that others deem normal. However, for this same reason, nerds are the ones that find ways to affect the world.

With commitment, nerds excel in life, regardless of their level of “nerd-dom”. Heck, you’ve never heard a story of a successful, touching or inspirational person who just followed the crowd and did what was popular at the time.

Nerds build communities together for the love of one common passion that strengthens relationships and builds ties that can never be broken.

We all have a little bit of nerd in us, and we can’t make a difference without fighting for our passion. Besides, the most influential people in the world, past and present have always been nerds in their own respect:

  • Mark ZuckerbergBegan the idea for Facebook by starting a website for guys to rate the attractiveness of one Harvard female over another. This certainly did not make him too popular (all those who have seen the Social Network know this), not to mention just about all computer programmers can be teased for their passion of computers.
  • Emily DickinsonShut herself out from the world. After her death she touched millions of people when over 800 poems were discovered that she never showed anyone.
  • Tommy Hilfiger – Went bankrupt selling apparel out of the back trunk of his car.
  • Chris Abani – Imprisoned 3 times on suspicion of trying to overthrow the Nigerian government. He was a threat because of his devotion to often controversial political and religious literature.
  • Colonel Sanders – Slept in his car while knocking on doors and wearing his famous white suit to try and sell his chicken.
  • Quentin TarantinoNever went to film school, but discussed and watched films all day while working at a video store.
  • Charles Schultz – Every one of his cartoons submitted to his high school paper were rejected.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright – In the United States his work was often ridiculed as being too obscure and outlandish.
  • Ludwig Boltzmann – Maybe not a name you recognize, but he was shunned back in the early 1900’s for a theory that small atoms exist in all objects.
  • Maya Angelou – It’s impossible to sum up the adversity Maya Angelou went through in order to pursue her passions of singing, dancing, acting and writing, so I would recommend reading more about her here. Racism, rape, violence, romantic ridicule and criticism for controversial literature are just a handful of things that she endured to pursue her dreams.
  • Charles Darwin – His father and peers called him lazy and a daydreamer.
  • Lucille Ball – Was regarded as a low, B-level actress before I Love Lucy. Most instructors and family members suggested she try another job.

As history shows, it’s cool to not fit in sometimes. So just remember that whenever you’re feeling like life isn’t going your way, maybe your popularity level isn’t all that wonderful right now, your friends aren’t supporting you or something you love doesn’t make you out to be the “coolest” or most financially successful person in the world.

Your uniqueness is something to wear proudly on your sleeve. In my opinion, everyone has a little nerd in them, and the earlier you show the world, the quicker you can find happiness, and the world will recognize you for it.

It’s tough because writers are charged with these side effects due to the nature of the craft: being locked up in a room, not talking to family or friends for extended periods of time, reading a book, making little money, or in my case, not socializing because I’m nose deep in Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus at the moment (not being very social) or being ridiculed in high school because I was a football player who wanted to join the musical. It will always be worth it in the end, because nerds are creative, they innovate with ideas they learn from their passion and reinvent our world the way no one else can.

In my eyes, being a nerd is committing yourself so fully to your passion that you will endure whatever adversity tries to prevent you from performing that passion.

Let us know in the comments section what makes you a nerd!

See ya next time…

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About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

Comments

  1. I like NPR, MSNBC, Food Network, and chess. I mostly wear stuff from LL Bean and don’t have any shoes higher than a 2″ heel. I’m allergic to anything hipster. I think all of that qualifies me as a nerd.

  2. Oh yeah, Joe. Call me nerd anytime. When I was in school, it was called egg-head, and I remember then wearing the title proudly. Spoke to my high school quarterback recently, and he said I was the smartest person he remembered in school, and that he really respected me. There you go…nerds.

  3. Art nerd here! Love this post, Joe. And I completely agree. Long live the nerds!

  4. I’m such a nerd! I love books, as a kid I loved rainy days so that we could stay inside and read instead of having to go outside to play at school. Also, I have been working on my own novel for seven years and now I’m in the editing process. Total love and passion for the written word! Yay NERDS!!

  5. i WAS a nerd wa a a aay back when! (mid-1960’s) when we chess-playing (yet still long-distance-running and rock-&-boulder-climbing) gamer dream-interpretation-discussion ayn-rand-reading weirdos would get together. i think all that’s changed. i’ve lost any modicum of ‘currency’ with I T, computer programming (heck, we can’t program the DVD/VCR anymore!). yet i still (almost youthfully?) enjoy sci-fi movies and post-apocalyptic stories, etc. yet there are some ‘nerdy’ things my wife won’t let me get away with: i would wear clothes and shoes ’til they fell apart, and use stuff ’til similar happened. she won’t let me …

    • Hi Rosco,

      It seems like you have a great history of nerdiness! I still wear dowm my shoes until they are falling apart. Maybe my girlfriend will step in soon and make me change my ways!

  6. Great blog! The nerd with a word, for creation, for arts, I’m a nerd for all these people and, the way they have shared there work with the world. I see it all as old fashion smart classical arts.

  7. Good one, Joe. You might want to add that nerds come in all shapes sizes, races, colors, etc. You are a 25-year-old male nerd. I am a 72-year-old female nerd, and danged proud of it. It took balls (female version) to become the first paralegal in a large city; to become the first female all night radio broadcaster; to go lecturing by myself throughout various cities in North America about new age philosophies that work! Enough about me. But being an environment-changing nerd does take courage, and nearly every nerd out there has it. It’s the passion that does it!

  8. The older I get, the more I embrace the nerd within. I grew up loving scifi and making things. I have come to accept that I am basically an introvert who doesn’t enjoy parties or crowds or shopping for shoes! Thanks for a great post.

  9. The older I get, the more I embrace the nerd within. It’s such a relief to accept that I will never be an extrovert or enjoy parties and crowds nor, for that matter, shopping for shoes! Thanks for a great post! I think I lost my first reply so apologies if you get two from me.

  10. Great post Joe. Love it! I was raised by my dad and in the 70s-80s we watched Star Trek faithfully when i was growing up and i confess i enjoy the Star Wars movies. Being a nerd is definitely a virtuous quality! It takes guts, determination, lots of courage, self-reliance, and brains. I think people who judge nerds are just showing their own insecurities and feel safer when then stay in their nice cozy comfort zone. (how boring.)

    I never thought about listing the things i do that might be nerdy….lets see, I like to isolate when i’m needing to get grounded and can spend hours researching books and articles, or listening to lectures on science or psychology. Listen to NPR and MPR. Understanding the little pieces is considered a “fun” activity.

    I’m a deep thinker and feeler which makes it weird when you’re around superficial or pompous people. I think THEY are on another planet, LOL.

    Great post on encouraging others to be themselves and follow their dreams and passions. No one is better at being you than you! If you get a chance, watch Super Soul Sunday on Oprah.com from this past sunday, April 7. There is an interview clip with a harvard graduate that left his high powered lawyer gig to follow his passion of becoming a pro-wrestler which he turned out to be great at. Now that takes guts!

    Keep on writin 😉
    Julie

  11. “nerds are the ones that get ridiculed, the ones that aren’t cool and never pursue ideas that others deem normal. ”
    Who gets to say what is normal? For me, normal is reading books till 3AM, writing ideas on the back of shopping dockets or maybe serviettes if you’re in a cafe/restaurant and catching a train to the other side of the country just because that’s what your MC did and you want to write the story more authentically. LOL normal is even having the things your MC experienced suddenly happening to you while you’re on the trip.
    Let’s hear it for the Nerds!

  12. I’m a Trekkie.. if that makes me a nerd, then I happily accept my fate. :)

  13. 1bukowski says:

    According to your definition, which I wholeheartedly agree with, I am a nerd in so many ways. But even according to Merriam-Webster, I fit the mold. When you text your spouse to say that you just noticed the lights on the cable box display the helium spectrum, that is rock-bottom nerdiness. Yes, that is a word. I just made it up, and I am qualified to do so, thank you very much.

  14. Don’t think I ever got to thank you for stopping by. Thank you Nerd. Personally, I think, like Society, the Definition of nerd has evolved; it can’t really be defined anymore, but as you pointed out, there are certain characteristics that lead to one being suspected of being a citizen of Nerdistan. Maybe it would be safer to assume that Nerdiness is now sub-divided into several categories: traditional, transitional, Fashion, closet, artificial, etc.