It seems that “geeky” or “nerdy” things—things like comic books, Star Wars, and video games—things once reviled, are now the hottest things in pop culture.
Avengers: Age of Ultron has broken box office records this year, and we haven’t even seen the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet. Gotham, Arrow, and The Flash are among the hottest shows on TV, not to mention Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
So what is the difference between a “geek” and a “nerd”? What qualities make one a “geek” or a “nerd”?
One infographic, published by FactSpy.net in 2012, recognizes the trend, but attributes the trendiness to “geeks,” while attributing poor social behavior to “nerds.”
Well, aside for a few inconvenient truths:
1. Geek was not the name for circus performers who “performed amazing feats.” It was the name for circus performers who ate non-food items, most commonly biting the heads off of live chickens.
2. Nerds only appear socially awkward to non-nerds. Nerds usually have large circles of friends, who may also be nerds. And in many cases these friends are far more trustworthy and loyal than the friends of non-nerds.
It is true, however, that nerds may be socially different. They may like things that others don’t like, or not care about things that others find important. Nerds may obsess over comic books or science-fiction, but non-nerds may obsess over their wardrobe or their car. Why has one type of interest been traditionally considered “nerdy” and the other “normal”?
It is also true that nerds might be introverted. To non-introverts introversion may appear to be “socially ineptitude” or “social awkwardness.” It’s not. In one-on-one or small group interactions, introverted people are just as social as anyone else.
The following Venn diagram, from WikiHow, promotes this weird distinction between geeks and nerds:
(Not to mention that I don’t think I’ve heard the word “dweeb” used since the 1980s.)
Geeks and nerds might be more intelligent than average. I think that this was always the case, traditionally. As noted above, however, “geeky” is now trendy. Which means that the same hipster, trendy crowd that gets into every passing fad, now calls themselves “geeks” and “nerds.” This has had the effect of bringing down the average IQ of nerd-kind.
So, how do would I identify myself, as a “geek” or a “nerd.” Personally, I prefer the term “nerd” to “geek” (I can’t get the chicken-head-biting out of my head). I once hated both these names, but at my age I can take pride in the qualities that make me a nerd. I can embrace my intelligence and my quirky interests as integral parts of myself, and if that makes me a nerd, then so be it.
What do you think? Would you identify as a “geek” or a “nerd” (or something else)? What do you think the difference between the two terms is?
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