Karen: Today's question for you is what constitutes a geek? How about a nerd? How do you feel about these terms? Once thought of as derogatory terms, they now carry a veneer of coolness, as mega-nerds like Bill Gates conquered the world, and all the top films seem to be about super-heroes or space battles. On the other hand, dorks and dweebs are still at the bottom of the social ladder.
Karen: However, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, especially nerd and geek. I always thought geek > nerd, because to me, nerds might have been into all the weird stuff geeks were, but they were also stuck with crushing a lack of social skills. I thought of myself as a geek, someone who loved science and the space program, science fiction in all forms, the Lord of the Rings and of course, comic books! But I could still have a conversation with a 'normal' person and not tip them off that I was of a different species. A nerd on the other hand, might love the same things as me, but would stumble and fumble their way through any social encounter, either heading for the nearest exit or loudly and awkwardly demonstrating their otherness.
Karen: I came across this Venn diagram that has divided up the terms and given them basic attributes.
|Credit: Matthew Mason|
Karen: So what do you think of this classification? It seems pretty good to me. The geek seems to come out ahead, and certainly, if you're a fan of comics, science fiction, and other genre fandom, you'd rather be thought of as a geek than a nerd based on these definitions. And no one would want to be a dweeb or a dork! But I'm sure there are dorks who think they are nerds...or nerds who think they are geeks...
Karen: You could probably argue for other characteristics that could define geeks/nerds/etc. And is there really overlap for all of them? I mean, could a dork just be socially inept? Or how about a nerd being more about math and science, while a geek might not be as academically inclined but more of a genre fan?
Karen: As I mentioned at the beginning, there's some thought that these terms, particularly geek and nerd, are used far too cavalierly nowadays. Most people think of nerds as being very smart, but you have a lot of folks self-labeling as nerds. Can the average person really be considered a nerd compared to, say, Neil Degrasse Tyson? And there are geeks everywhere now -I get annoyed with the self-proclaimed "Marvel geeks" who claim expertise on the characters when they've never opened a comic book -but hey, they've seen all the films five times!
Karen: No, geekdom and nerdiness are medals that were won with sweat and tears (maybe even blood, if you got beat up), and those of us who truly earned them, back when it wasn't cool, are the only ones entitled to wear them. The rest of them are just ...mundanes? What's the word for them?