This afternoon, I spent ten solid minutes peering intently into my computer screen at this image:
Why? Because it’s reportedly where The X-Files 2 movie is filming today. As I stared at the screen, the rodents in my brain worked hard to try and glean some sort of clue as to what could possibly be happening on that little island. What major plot point would it reveal? Was that Mulder in the foreground or a tree? And if it’s a tree, is it a special alien tree?* And then I wondered, “What the hell is wrong with me?”
Actually, I know what’s wrong with me. I’m a compulsive nerd who has to know everything about anything she likes. Which leads me to wonder, is that okay? And if not, does it really matter?
David Anderegg in his book, Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them, makes what I think is a sensible argument about nerd compulsions. For every Star Trek geek out there who knows how dilithium crystals work (and yes, I’m raising my hand here), there are ten other people out there obsessing over LaDainian Tomlinson’s yardage or how many units Beyonce moved last week. Basically, Anderegg says, we’re all obsessed about something. It’s just that nerds get dissed because our obsessions tend to be out of the mainstream…and be animated and have space ships.
I’m not ashamed of my nerd compulsions. They’ve been with me for as long as I can remember. Did I almost burn my eyes out reading all 27 Black Stallion books in three weeks as a seven year old because I just couldn’t stop? Yup. Did I walk around the house for days with two small flashlights strapped to the sides of my head and a brown blanket over my head pretending to be a Jawa when I was eight? Maaaaaybe. Did I go to an X-Files convention and have my picture taken in Mulder’s fake office with a big dumb smile on my face? Hell yes. Did I spend $75 on eBay for a sombrero-wearing Giles action figure? Not yet.
And here’s the thing: I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with that stuff. You know why? Because I had fun. Because I learned stuff – like how to handicap racehorses and how flashlights strapped to the sides of your head can burn after a while. All of my obsessions have yielded me some sort of satisfaction and yes, knowledge. If not for watching The West Wing like a crazy person for years on end, my understanding of the American legislative system would have ended with “I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill.”
I agree with Anderegg: nerdy obsessions get mocked because they’re too esoteric for the rest of the kids. It’s okay to love football and shoes, but if your interest happens to reside an inch or two outside the mainstream…and has space ships…well, you might as well just raise the nerd flag high and enjoy yourself. Others may laugh but when scientists finally invent the warp drive, we’re gonna be the only ones who know how to steer the ship.**
* No, it was just a regular tree. :(
** Not necessarily a metaphor.
Photo from X-Files community at Livejournal.