One of my favorite blogs, Wired's Geek Dad, recently ran an item on the differences between "geek" and "nerd," which got my blood boiling just a bit by the time I got to the last paragraph, which read:
So the chief difference between geeks and nerds is social aptitude: geeks have it, nerds don’t. Geeks can, and very often do, fall in love with and marry non-geeks. Nerds, if they find love, it’s nearly always with another nerd. There’s a reason why this blog isn’t called “NerdDad,” and that’s the chief reason. Speaking only for myself, I was a bit of a nerd when I was a kid, but I got better. Now I’m a geek, and proud of it!
What's up with picking on the nerds? Especially when it's coming from a geek? We're neighbors on the Venn diagram; we practically pass sugar to one another over the fence yet here they are perpetuating the "nerd as social leper" stereotype. Here's a thought: maybe nerds aren't social lepers. Maybe we're just selective in our friendships. Maybe that whole sitting alone in the corner with a book thing is really just us saying, "Dude, I don't like you."
And you know what? Even if some of us are shy and get awkward, who the hell cares? That doesn't stop us from having friends or dating "normal" people. Hell, my husband's about as un-nerdy as they come, and we still talk to each other JUST LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE DO.
Beyond the stereotype, I would argue that today whatever lines existed between the terms "geek" and "nerd" are blurring rapidly. Check out TIME Magazine's Nerd World blog and then check out Wired's Geek Dad blog and you'll see they're covering a lot of the same things. Do a quick Google search of sites catering to geeks and nerds and you'll see the same thing: a hybridization of the two social sets. Some geek blogs write solely about computer technology and so do some nerd blogs. If none of us down here in the geek/nerd trenches can distinguish the true etymological difference, then is there really any difference at all? Or is it just some semantic folderol that we toss at each other when we want to feel better about the fact that we can recite "Star Wars: A New Hope" from memory and with improvised special effects. Whatever divisions there once were in the common American lexicon are dissipating and thankfully, so is much of the social stigma associated with both terms.
Still, personally, I'm fine calling myself a nerd. In fact, I debated long and hard on which term to use before starting this blog but in the end, "nerd" won out. Why? Because the term "nerd" infers intelligence, and you know what? I like being smart. Especially for a woman, I think it's important to embrace and flaunt your intelligence. In my mind, being a nerd is about more than pop culture references and liking sci-fi, it's also about intellectual curiosity and a single-minded fascination with the subjects that stir your particular cup of coffee. Nerds have a passion for whatever they like, whether its crafts or astronomy or literature or comics. Ask me something about Roman literature, and I'll happily wax poetic about Catullus or Virgil until you leave the room. That's my OCD nerd self and I'm really OK with it.
So there it is. Go ahead and call me a nerd -- just know I'm taking it as a compliment.
Besides, we shouldn't be fighting one another during Comic-Con, also known as Nerd/Geek Christmas. Even the Episcopalians and Presbyterians put aside their gaping differences during the holidays.