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A N∑rd’s Life MAG
Everyone has seen them. From the teen in math class who knows every answer before the question is asked, to the kid sitting alone in the cafeteria who looks like he got dressed with the lights off. Everybody has come across these highly intellectual individuals who are adored by teachers and sneered at by peers – the Nerds.
The term “nerd” comes with derogatory implications and can be used interchangeably with “geek” and “dork,” although they have slightly different meanings. Nerds are those who love and succeed at intellectual activities. Geeks are nerds who focus on a specific area, like math, science, computers, or band. Dorks may or may not be exceedingly intellectual, but they are socially awkward. Dorks are also easily confused by simple matters.
The word “nerd” brings to mind stereotyped images of thick-rimmed glasses or braces. Nerds are seen as unfashionable, mainly because they focus on studies rather than appearance. They are viewed as unpopular because they would rather learn than party.
According to my friends, I am a nerd. That’s right: the people I hang around and share intimate bonds with consider me to be of the nerd species. Those who don’t know me well also consider me a nerd. Maybe it’s because of my excellent GPA (and my humility) or my lack of social skills.
The first step to dealing with the fact that you’re a nerd is denial. No, I’m only joking. If you avoid facing the fact, a conversation like this may ensue: “No, I’m not a nerd … What did I get on that bio test? A 99. Why are you walking away?”
The second step (which is actually the first step, since denial is out of the question) is acceptance. You’re a nerd. Get over it and move on with your life. It’s an honor to be considered an intellectual by your peers (unless they try to throw you into the dumpster in the cafeteria, but let’s assume the general population is nice). You should be proud of your geekiness. Nerd pride! I long ago accepted this fact and have never looked back. (I’ve learned to ignore the spitballs and “Kick me” signs on my back.)
But being a nerd isn’t as peachy-keen as it sounds. It comes with responsibilities. It’s not easy meeting everyone’s expectations. In the middle of an IM conversation, I am asked what eight times six equals (not that that requires nerd powers to figure out). I’m constantly used as a reference for information or as an editor – not that I mind. Sometimes it’s nice to be needed, but I’m considering charging.
A lot of pressure comes with being a nerd. Nerds have to combat and overcome unrealistic stereotypes. I’m constantly teased by my loving friends. My nicknames include “Nerd” and “Super Geek.” The fact that I’m extremely uncoordinated and once flew down my basement stairs wearing a helmet doesn’t help my case.
Despite these stereotypes, many intelligent children (and adults) don’t fit the mold. Numerous intellectuals aren’t solely absorbed with learning; they pursue other interests like sports and social activities, which go against the usual stereotype of nerds.
I’ll admit to having several “nerd” qualities, but I’d like to think I’m not 100 percent nerd. I do get high grades. At times I am socially awkward. I am uncoordinated and can trip up or down stairs or on any surface. My love life is nonexistent. I’m known to tell stupid jokes. I’ve been the target of physical violence, and I’m at the mercy of one of my best friend’s strong (and I mean strong) punches.
Despite these qualities, I’m not all nerd. I have great friends, who put up with (and sometimes abuse) my nerd powers. I’m not that interested in math, science, or computers; I’m a literary buff. I enjoy social activities, and I like to think I’m not that dorky looking (nobody comment, please).
The book Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them by David Anderegg talks about how our society is lacking in brains compared with the rest of the world. He claims this is because children see the negative stereotypes associated with intellectuals. Society teaches them that smart kids are disliked. Teens sometimes become annoyed when there’s a nerd in their class. Believe me, I know that feeling. Instead of looking at the negatives, teens should see the positives of being smart.
In today’s world with everything that’s going on – between the war in Iraq, threats of nuclear weapons, and poverty in third-world countries – it pays to be smart. With brainpower, we can change the world. Despite the negative connotations that come with being smart, today’s society needs to embrace its inner nerd.