Do you remember when being called a nerd was an insult?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always liked books, table top board games, live action role play (I called it “playing pretend), StarTrek (TNG), and classic comic books (Marvel). I wasn’t the best student, but I did love learning about history, biology, and outer space. And I totally had braces and glasses. I was a nerd and an awkward one at that. I was even home-schooled (more on that in another post). But these days I’ve noticed that things have changed. In one sense, the nerds are winning the culture war.
A few weeks ago my husband and I took a day trip to the fiftieth GenCon in Indianapolis, IN. This convention is a huge gathering of Tabletop gaming enthusiasts. The vast array of people in attendance led to our conversation about how the internet and other technology has given nerds and geeks the upper hand, and also made them popular. My husband remembers the shift very clearly because he went to public school. There was a marked change in the wind of what was cool and what wasn’t. He and his tribe suddenly became desirable, not only as friends in the common crowd, but as boyfriend or girlfriend material.
How did the internet make being a nerd so legit? If you are a person devoted to a hobby off the beaten path, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. Enter the internet, stage right. Now nerds can find each other, talk to each other, and swap nerdigans with a few simple keystrokes. Anyone anywhere can find their tribe. I stumbled onto the Nerd Girl Problems meme on Pinterest some years ago. I enjoyed most of the “problems,” and identified with many of them, because I’m still a nerd. I still wear glasses, eat cold pizza, play tabletop games with friends, and go to conventions (when I have the time and money, which I usually don’t have). But I don’t feel like a sore thumb. If anything I feel weird not being weird.
Have any of my nerd friends out there experienced this?