There are too many people pretending to be nerds these days. I know many people who think that they are nerds, but they are not. It has become so easy to be a “nerd.” It’s almost cool, and that’s not nerdy at all.
The hard thing is nailing down what makes a person nerdy. But I think the key is intelligence, and social irrelevance, combined with real world application.
Case Study: Let’s make this easy and pick the biggest, most well-known actual nerd, Bill Gates. He knows a lot about math and computers, spent more time in high school programming than partying, and made something very useful to ordinary people. Boom. He is a nerd.
The 7 Pretenders of Nerddom
The pretenders are many and diverse, but I think they can be categorized into 7 distinct groups. Don’t worry if you fall in a pretender category. I’ve added tips for elevating your pretension into actual nerdiness if you decide you want to get serious about being a nerd.
1. The Fangirls
I know a ton of fangirls. These girls think that obsessing over hot, usually British, actors or singers is nerdy. Obsessing over sexy humans has never been nerdy (unless you are Mark Zuckerberg and you turn it into an algorithm. Note: anything becomes nerdy if you turn it into an algorithm.)
Knowing the complete filmography of some hunky dude does not make you a nerd. Binge watching TV shows with your preferred sexy dude does not make you nerdy. This may make you a loser or someone who needs to find something useful to do, but not a nerd.
Make it nerdy: Other than the aforementioned algorithm, which brings many ramifications of objectification, this is not really a nerdable obsession.
2. Music Listeners
Everyone in the world listens to music, so get over yourself. If you aren’t tone deaf, you like listening to music. Listening to a lot of music and knowing a lot of different bands or artists or songs does not make you nerdy. Liking a band no one has ever heard of? Not nerdy. All good musicians are unheard of at some point before they become mainstream. If your favorite band never makes it, it probably means they aren’t that good.
Even playing an instrument is not nerdy. Lots of people enjoy making music, usually in social settings such as bands, choirs, orchestras, etc.
Make it nerdy: Play your instrument for hours every day. Choose to major in music in college. Own music recording equipment for “fun.” Delve deeply into music theory. Start playing an instrument at age 3.
Some people watch Game of Thrones on HBO and think this earns them the title “nerd.” Just because you love the Khaleesi and want to punch Joffrey in his stupid face doesn’t make you a nerd.
Allow me to make something quite clear: watching TV or movies does not make you a nerd.
Nerdy activities are not passive. To turn your TV/movie watching into something nerdy, you have to put some effort into it.
Make it Nerdy: Pick a house and display your allegiance. Have a wall map of the Seven Kingdoms in your bedroom (I may or may not be guilty of this). Create your own house complete with sigel and words.
Blockbuster movies do not attract nerds. At least not exclusively. If you think you’re a nerd because you enjoy the recent deluge of super-hero related movies, think again.
This goes back to the principle that consumers, even binge watchers, are not nerds. You have to put something into it. Something more than just Pinterest boards that smack more of #1 than of full on nerdiness.
If you’re heading to ComicCon in some homemade costume, that is legit nerdiness. If you’re just along for the special effects beef-cake fest, then enjoy yourself, but you ain’t no nerd.
Make it Nerdy:
Go to ComicCon. Go to ComicCon in costume, preferrably home made. Collect superhero dolls…I’m sorry action figures. Read comic books. Write/draw comic books.
5. Computer users
Some people think that being able to operate technology makes you a nerd. They say “I’m such a nerd I can’t put my phone/tablet down.” No, you are just kind of a terrible, mindless person, but not a nerd.
Make it nerdy:
Make your own apps/computer programs. Being able to create technology high level nerdiness. You can be a nerd without this one, but you can’t have it and not be a nerd.
6. Board Gamers
Board games have some unfortunate nerd baggage that is not always warranted. Pretty much if you play a board game that requires more mental investment that Life or Candyland, you run the risk of earning the nerd label. This is not really accurate. There are a lot of new style board games “Ticket to Ride”, “Carcassonne”, “Small Worlds”, etc. that are a lot of fun and not nerdy at all.
Make it nerdy:
Make your own board or deck building game (Cones of Dunshire anyone?). Game Competitions. Studying game theory. Buying books of game cheats/hacks…or for the digital world checking out strategy online.
7. Video Gamers
My video game experience consists primarily of me losing at Mario to my 4 year old niece–every single time. That said the principles apply. Casual video gaming as vegging is not necessarily nerdy.
Make it nerdy:
Not nerdy- Reading Lord of the Rings. Nerdy- Learning elvish
Not nerdy- Liking Harry Potter. Nerdy- Playing quidditch…especially if you’re the snitch.
This guy earned his nerd.