I Speak Nerd

May 25th was Geek/Nerd Pride Day, and I flew my flag proudly. Gone are the days when either term would be considered derogatory. We Geeks and Nerds proclaim our status with verve, no longer hiding behind horn-rimmed glasses and ill-fitting, mismatched clothes.

According to Facebook (where 77,230 fans cyberspatially celebrated this year’s event), Geek/Nerd Pride Day was created in Albany, New York in 1998.  May 25th was chosen to commemorate the 1977 premiere of Star Wars (which, as we all know, rocketed sci-fi movies into a new realm of mass acceptance).

Nerd vs. Geek

So what’s the difference between a nerd and a geek? Various online dictionaries define a nerd as one who is intelligent, industrious, but socially inept and physically awkward.  Nerds also tend to be indifferent or oblivious to the aspersions cast upon them.

A geek, on the other hand, may or may not have superior intelligence, but tends to be fixated upon, and has amassed great knowledge about a particular area of interest (usually one in which others are generally not interested) — for example:  math geeks, band geeks, motorscooter geeks and Lord of the Rings geeks.

Were one to create a Venn Diagram (as developed in the 1800s by British mathematician John Venn) of nerd and geek attributes, one might find within the intersecting segment, an interest in computers and science fiction/fantasy.

Still need help distinguishing geeks from nerds?  Click here for some simple steps to help you.

Nerds and Geeks Are Cool

In recent years, acceptance of geeks and nerds within society has increased due in part to the favorable or endearing portrayal of them in popular culture, such as television and movies. Two of my favorite TV shows include lovable geeks and nerds for whom I have a distinct affinity:  the brilliant, yet socially dysfunctional physicists in The Big Bang Theory sitcom, and Special Agent Timothy McGee of NCIS with his Masters degree from MIT in Computer Forensics. Let’s not forget the many superheroes whose mild-mannered alter-egos are frequently nerds or geeks:  Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Clark Kent (Superman) and Barbara Gordon with her Ph.D. in library science (Batgirl). And of course, we must pay homage to the movie that brought nerdhood to the forefront of the world’s consciousness:  Revenge of the Nerds starring Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards. Yes, nerds and geeks are cool — dare I even suggest respected?  Best Buys’ Geek Squad is looked upon as computer experts to whom people pay good money for assistance in fixing technology challenges that common folk dare not tackle.

So how does one celebrate being a nerd or a geek?  It’s so much more than donning propeller beanies. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Wear anything printed with a mathematical formula, dinosaurs or a periodic table.
  • Sing The Elements Song (by Tom Lehrer).
  • Bake yourself a pi (yes, pi:  3.14159265…).
  • Dress as your favorite sci-fi or comic book character (I proudly wore my Star Trek: The Next Generation communicator badge replica).
  • Teach some poor, unenlightened soul something about your favorite academic obsession.
  • Reorganize the food in your pantry in your choice of criteria:  alphabetically, by major food group, calorie count, or Sheldon Cooper’s idea–fiber content.
  • Take over the world.

Do you need help figuring out if you are a nerd or a geek?  Take this funny test — at least I thought it was funny (because I’m a “modern nerd”).

If you actually read this entire blog (much less enjoyed it), you are most assuredly one or the other.

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