What Happened to Nerds?

Ok, first of all, I’m not that old. I’m 37 and was in junior high and high school in the 80’s. But as far back as I can remember, there have always been nerds. No, not the tasty, sweet, sugary candy that keeps dentists in business, I’m talking about the uber-smart, fashionably-challenged, science fiction-loving goof balls everyone knows about.

When I was in school, I led the charge in making fun of the nerds. I so desperately didn’t want any of the cool kids to make fun of me (of course, back then, we all had something that could have been made fun of), I became a champion of making insults. This is the classic mis-direction technique–make fun of someone else before they make fun of you, the golden rule, if you will, of junior high insecurity.

The problem I faced was that my friends were nerds, or at least what I would consider nerds. We loved G.I Joe and Transformers; we loved Atari and Odyssey and computer games; we loved Star Wars and any other science fiction movies or television. But I also played football–2 years of varsity, and 4 years on the track team. I got Detroit Tigers and Lions apparell for Christmas and my birthday. Was I living a lie and afraid to come out of the nerd closet?

Fast forward to today–and let me be bold enough to ask this question–Is there such thing as a nerd anymore? My biggest argument for this is the “cool” kids of this generation wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes in the generation I grew up in, let alone generations past. Heck, the nerds I grew up with would probably be able to beat up todays “cool” kids. There’s something fundamentally wrong with a society that praises nerd-behavior in one generation and rebukes the same behavior in another generation. I just believe that the “nerd” is a thing of the past. This is good and bad–good if you were a nerd and hated the constant tormenting, bad if you were insecure and loved to be the tormentor!

Today’s society is encouraging of nerds. One of the more popular sit-com’s right now is “The Big Bang Theory,” about the shenanigan’s of 4 nerds. Podcasts are at an all-time high in popularity and Chris Hardwick’s “The Nerdist,” ranks among the most listened to. Need I mention how popular Shia Lebeouf is?

Technology is the root cause for the disappearance of the nerd. To get anywhere or do anything or to be social anymore, you have to be tech saavy. When I was young and computer technology was fresh and new, anyone who knew what a mainframe was was a nerd. These days, if you’re not on Facebook, don’t have Netflix, and don’t have an ipod or ipad, you’re the opposite of a nerd, which could bring you some derision–the antithesis of what being a nerd in my day was all about.

I’m glad I have an ipod…

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