I’m a nerd. Most of my friends, past and present, are nerds (or geeks, or whatever you want to call them). So I feel I’m at least somewhat versed in what makes up a nerd, and I’d like to make a few points based on what I often see nerds portrayed as in television, a few books, and, well, every form of media ever.
1. Not all nerds are unpopular.
Maybe it was just my high school, but several of the nerds I knew were fairly popular. They had a lot of friends, were well liked by even those outside their circles, and weren’t picked last for sports teams during gym class (that was always the freshmen). And things are a lot different as an adult, but the rule still applies. A nerd probably isn’t locked in his parents’ basement playing video games. He’s probably at work like anyone else.
2. In general, nerds are not socially inept.
Over the years, I’ve known several people who were socially awkward (myself included). Not all were nerds. In fact, most weren’t. The people I know who like comics, video games, and anime among other things aren’t the type to show up to a black-tie event wearing jeans and sneakers. It just means they like “nerdy” things.
3. Just because someone is ridiculously smart, doesn’t mean they’re a stereotypical nerd.
The valedictorian for my high school class was super smart, like straight A’s since middle school, perfect attendance, and tons of extra credit assignments. She was also a huge athlete and one of the most popular girls in school. She was one of those people who does everything and does it well, and no one held it against her because she was a really nice person. The next highest GPA belonged to a girl who was the same, minus being a big athlete, and plus being a hardcore party girl. These days, it’s pretty much the same. The smart look like everyone else. Where’s that in your TV nerds?
4. Most nerds don’t dress wacky.
Seriously, what is up with this trend? The women always have flamboyant hair and three-inch nails while the men are always wearing nerd glasses and miss-tucked shirts. I have never in my life met someone who dresses like that, not in high school and not now. Most of the nerds I know dress exactly like everyone else. Not that there aren’t people who dress to get attention. It’s just…that isn’t the calling sign of the nerd.
5. Not all nerds are bullied. Not all those bullied are nerds.
On TV and usually in books, high school nerds seem to be bullied all the time. But in my experience, not so much. The bullied were shy, awkward and bad socially, but not nerds in the traditional sense. Not that nerds weren’t made fun of for their tastes sometimes. However, that isn’t unique to nerds. Anyone who liked something that could potentially be made fun of was most definitely made fun of. It’s called High School.