Monday, March 10, 2014
- by M. Lee Rogers
If you saw the previous articles in this series, you know that we have been examining the nerd and his or her relationship to the world. We have looked at various facts about the nerd, the nerd’s dealings with romance, and various myths and misconceptions about nerds. If you did not see those articles, that should get you up to speed.
The first two articles were aimed at the general audience. This one is a little bit different. With any luck, a few nerds have read these articles. This piece is for them. The rest of you are welcome to follow along.
It is a true pleasure to be talking to other nerds. Many nerds are somewhat isolated and do not get many chances to talk to each other. I get more chances than some of you, but it is always good to widen the circle.
Here is another way of looking at us: “If you like nerds, raise your hand. If you don’t, raise your standards.” – Violet Haberdasher
The main reason that I like to talk to other nerds is that you will understand me in a way that most other people do not.
For example, you will get the references to nerd literature like Star Wars or Star Trek, the three laws of robotics, and Doctor Who. Speaking of Doctor Who, you will know what a tardis is. If you are a big enough fan, unlike me, you will know all of the actors who have played the Doctor. As for Star Wars, I have the utmost respect for Carrie Fisher as a writer. I just wonder if her character in the new movie will be age-appropriate.
You will certainly be aware of computer games like Worlds of Warcraft and may play them. I came along a little too early to get into that. I also tried Dungeons and Dragons but found it quite boring. I did not find it interesting to sit up all night plodding through a role-playing game. If you do, that’s great.
You will understand and use new technology. You may well be ahead of me of many of those high-tech items. I am certainly not a Luddite, but tend to be a late adopter. Let other people figure out the value of a new gizmo. I can wait.
You will understand why spanning the galaxy is so much more interesting than reading most mainstream authors. Let the highbrows read Norman Mailer or John Cheever or Joan Didion or Susan Sontag. Science fiction and fantasy works do not always display the most refined characterizations. But the breathtaking scope of the ideas can knock your socks off. Once I started reading science fiction, mainstream literature totally lost its appeal. As Joanne Worley would have put it, “Bor-ing!”
You will wish that the general population would accept our differences from them instead of deriding and making fun of us.
You will also get these math-related pickup lines (WARNING: Do not try these lines on a flesh-and-blood woman!):
Hey baby, what’s your sine?
I’ve been secant you for a long time.
You must be the square root of 2 because I feel irrational around you.
Nerds also know that we could run things better than most other people if we ever got the chance. There is a difference between the general nerd population, which tends to be politically liberal, and the southern nerd, who may be liberal but can be as conservative as many in the general population.
We nerds would be better at managing governments because we would be less prone to corruption than many politicians. Money does not motivate us as much as the general run of humanity. Once we have enough to live on comfortably, we are generally happy. Another factor is that nerds would be less worried about keeping people happy and more concerned with finding the best solution to a problem.
Unfortunately, nerds rarely get the chance to be in charge. One needs strong people skills to get elected to public office. This leaves out the typical nerd. The people who get elected are the people who can get the average citizen to like them and to vote for them. The most a nerd can hope for is to end up working on a politician’s staff.
If you want to see a fictional example of a society in which the nerds run everything from behind the scenes, read a book called The Marching Morons by C. M. Kornbluth. While the situations are exaggerated to create comedy, the underlying truth of the book is all too real.
The sad fact is that the general population generally does not understand us very well. Nerds are better off hanging out with each other as much as possible. I mentioned some areas where nerds can find each other in previous articles. If you have suggestions, please share them with the rest of us.
As we know, it is not easy to be a nerd. One big problem that we face is loneliness and the depression that can result. After all, our typically low level of social skills makes it difficult for us to find and make friends. Very few social situations are aimed at nerds. Besides, we have a lot of lonely people in the general population. Once a person falls out of his or her social groups, it can be very difficult to ever find new ones.
Loneliness in the nerd world is a big problem for us. I hope to start a “forgotten nerd” outreach in the social media world. I want those people to know that someone remembers and cares about them.
Here is an idea that somebody should pursue. Many of the top-end high school students have few people in common with them at their current school. It would be a good project for some local organization (Mensa would be a good choice if they had a functional local chapter) to sponsor a dinner/social event for the top academic performing high school students in the area. Only the top one to two percent should be included. Hold the dinner early in the school year. Let the students meet and talk to each other. Lots of friendships would come out of it. Maybe a few lonely kids would not be so lonely if they had peers from other schools to socialize with. Maybe this is already happening and I do not know about it. But if not, somebody ought to do it.
In closing, here are a few final points that nerds should think about:
Nerds will always be a small minority in the larger world. It is not their job to adjust to us. It is our job to find ways to fit into the rest of society.
We nerds need to look out for each other. The general population will ostracize us if we do not.
It is normal for nerds to be shy and unconfident, but we can offer a lot to the world if we have the courage to do so.
Fellow nerds, thanks for reading. If you’ve enjoyed reading these articles, please let me know. And remember: be a nerd.