While we all openly identify as nerds and geeks here, we can’t deny how frustrating it is to see the stereotypical geeky guy in ads or as characters played on TV. You know the type—thick glasses with wide plastic frames, a button-up shirt and high-rise pants held up by suspenders.
None of us dress like that, by the way. You won’t find any pocket protectors corralling our pens around here. But, we’re rebels like that—let the ink leak where it may.
But why is this the image that represents intelligence in our society? We can’t help but notice that other industries and professions are represented by much different models. For example, are there ever any unattractive doctors on TV, movies or advertisements? Medical professionals always appear healthy, strong and confident. Educators are represented as kind, energetic, nurturing people surrounded by smiling children. Yet, we’re still haunted by this scrawny, asthmatic guy who repels women. How is that fair?
In today’s digital world, geeks and nerds are relied on more and more to protect identities, secure information and even track the bad guys. We’re connecting the world and making technological advances in all industries to help everyone lead better lives. Without nerds, you wouldn’t have online banking, and “Googling” wouldn’t be a verb (at least as it’s known today…). You couldn’t enjoy the Snapchat filters that turn you into a cute dog, change your voice or render a flawless complexion. You would still be waiting days for your photographs to be developed just to find out that one eye was closed in all of them. Store checkouts would be much slower, and you would not know the convenience of online shopping. Not to sound conceited, but nerds are kind of a big deal.
We looked up the dictionary definition of both “geek” and “nerd” as these two terms tend to be used interchangeably. Honestly, we were not prepared for the grim picture Merriam-Webster published. They define nerd as: an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person.
If you ask us, we’re all pretty good looking... Here are most of us at our holiday celebration at the Escape Room. As you can see, no one is wearing suspenders.
Merriam-Webster also provides three interesting definitions for “geek”:
- a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
- an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
- a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
We took a quick survey—no one here has ever bitten the head off a live anything, and we all have friends (hi, Mom!). We can get on board with definition number two though—an expert in a technological field or activity. That’s us! We’re all technologically inclined here.
Fortunately, it does seem to be getting easier to be a nerd these days. You can even find videos on how to be a nerd, should you be interested in coming over to the tech side. We’re seeing I <3 Nerd shirts and bumper stickers stocked on store shelves, and bow ties are finding their way to the cool kids’ closets.
So many more activities and interests have become socially acceptable. Super hero movies, gaming, comic books, manga and anime are no longer reserved for those who know binary. Even trivia has become a fun, competitive pastime. Finally, a team we get picked for first.
Hollywood is starting to re-shape the traditional nerdy stereotypes with sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory. While the show still features socially awkward geeks in glasses, they are capturing the attention (and hearts) of all audiences. In this world, the geek gets the girl, which definitely defies the Merriam-Webster definitions.
Even the Marvel movies are helping to transform what geek looks like. Traditionally a nerd genre, the popular comic book characters are attracting fans from all social circles. Updated geeky characters like Tony Stark/Iron Man are shifting the perception of the traditional nerd into a smart, successful and attractive businessperson who also happens to be a badass genius using his technology to save the world from alien attacks. We can certainly get on board with this new image.
While we still find it frustrating to see the stereotypical characters lingering in the media, we do have hope that soon this stigma will be erased, and nerds and geeks will become more respected and certainly more desirable than a wild man biting the head off a live chicken.
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