As someone who has grown up identifying with the “nerd” subculture, it puzzles and even offends me to see the rise of “nerd” as a cool, quirky, or fashionable thing. If people were more accepting of nerds in general, that would be one thing, but I feel like the new concept of “nerd” is at best a misunderstanding and at worst a mockery of nerd culture.
I grew up being bullied, teased, outcast because I relished learning and did well at school. In university, I’m one of maybe 3 or 4 female computer science students in a department of hundreds. I’m not sure if it has to do with the hipster movement, but suddenly being “nerdy” seems to be the new hip thing. And not nerdy in the way that I think of it, you know, being intellectual and successful and ambitious. It seems to have transformed into a cutesy fashion statement that companies slap on to any product they can find and convince young girls its “cool”. There are several things wrong with this definition: first, it does not mirror the actual thinking that I’ve come to associate with. It has become reduced to a superficial stereotype. We’ve had the reality show Beauty and the Geek, where beautiful women try to make “nerds” into more “normal” people, and one of the most popular shows on television is The Big Bang Theory, which tells us to laugh at a group of nerds and their ineptness at tasks other people may find normal. We also have simplistic associations that anyone with glasses is automatically labeled a “nerd”. And that’s just not how it works. I’m not trying to be elitist, but I take pride in being a nerd and its weird to be to see these people trying to emulate “nerdiness” for the purposes of social approval or fashion.
Another disturbing example, addressing several facets of the problem I have with this, can be found here:
I doubt that this woman truly “loves nerds”. We can also see the sexualization of something as traditionally innocent as “nerdiness”. Comparing the men’s and women’s costumes is especially disappointing. Quoting the description for the costume, “They say men don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses but in this costume you will surely prove them wrong.” Um…here’s a concept, how about we “make passes” at women with interesting personalities and intelligence, rather than base our opinions on what someone is wearing? Better yet, let’s just not make passes at all. Actually getting to know people is pretty cool.
It just seems sad to me. While some people might think that it’s getting more exposure and promoting the nerd image, I feel like its the opposite. But this fad will pass, as do all fads. When can I go back to being an outcast?