Now that nerds (or is it the geeks?) have “won” in popular culture, with superheroes, video games, and tech dominating the world, we figured it’s time to really settle down and determine something incredibly important (but not really):
What makes a NERD, and what makes a GEEK? And which one really won?
In a world where the geeks (or is it the nerds?) reign supreme, we want to first acknowledge that…
If you’re under 30 you probably won’t get much of this at all.
You see, my younger friends, there once was a time when reading comics, talking about superheroes, speculating about upcoming movies or shows, and playing video games meant there was a good chance you were going to get teased, bullied, or looked down upon.
It’s true! All the things that nearly every Tom, Sue, and Joe Bob are now regularly doing used to be considered “weird” or “silly”.
I’m 35 now, and as long as I can remember my favorite hobbies were watching movies, read comics (especially Marvel), collect memorabilia, play video games, and deep dive into the lore of everything I loved (especially Star Wars, X-Men, and Lord of the Rings).
In school, this made me completely… not cool.
In fact, the only thing keeping me from being completely ignored by most of the school (or mocked) was that I also just happened to love sports, and grew to be pretty good at them.
So I existed in this weird in-between world. One day I’d be at the jock table, the next day with the “geeks” (or, “nerds”).
But I witnessed the difference. Other than me, there were no others “crossing the streams.”
The truth is, there are still sometimes when I take a step back, and I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone.
The geeks and nerds have taken over.
Obviously, at BAM! we love this.
So we decided to put this out so we all could decide…
Which one am I?
The word “nerd” was barely used until the 1980s. Until…
The Personal Computer (PC) was introduced!
It’s no coincidence, the rise of the use of “nerd” directly coincides with the growth of digital technology.
Originally, the title of “nerd” was applied to people who were singularly focused on growing intellectually and achieving mastery of intellectual achievements.
More often than not that leads to the “nerd” being socially awkward while also being superior in their field.
Because of this, they are also usually obsessive in their other hobbies or interests. But those interests are usually not very broad.
Nerds tend to be attracted toward science fiction and fantasy for their entertainment. They LOVE deep lore because the more information means more understanding (think Lord of the Rings and Star Trek).
They also love games that are intellectually stimulating (chess, not checkers).
Like its cousin, “nerd”, the title “geek” also started really being used in the 1980s.
Before that, the word “geek” was mostly ascribed to carnival wild men who bit the heads off of live chickens and snakes.
(Note: This means that Ozzy Osbourne is NOT a geek, since he usually bit the heads off of bats)
So how did it become mixed up with the word “nerd”?! Seems like quite the stretch!
The word “geek”, it turns out, has always been descriptive of someone with an extreme interest.
And that’s why it’s so easy to mix them up with the “nerds.”
Since both nerds and geeks are passionate about niche areas which often overlap, they can seem to be the same!
BUT, while nerds are all about the mastery and the understanding, geeks are about the experience.
For geeks, it’s about the lifestyle. They have their passions, but they always want the NEW aspect of that passion.
Geeks are early adopters, they like to keep trying things. But they are also very opinionated about what they like. Geeks tend to what feels right, whereas nerds will pursue the knowledge to make sure.
Geeks are collecting oriented, even of facts and items, because of what it means for their preferred lifestyle (versus mastery for nerds).
Ok, I feel very nerdy right now having written all that. Let’s get back to the fun part…
So, figured out which one you are yet?
I’ll admit, for years I believed I was a nerd. All the things I loved seemed to point in that direction.
I’m a collector. I collect memories and experiences. When it comes to clothing, style, and even technology, I find what FEELS the best and then I stick with it. Once I’ve dug in, it’s REALLY hard to convince me otherwise.
I want to beat all the games I play to fully experience them. But when I’m done, I’m on to the next one. I rarely take the time to master them.
I was a film critic because I liked watching MANY movies. I’ve seen well over 10,000 in my life. I have my favorites I’ve watched 30-50 times each, but more often than not I want the new.
After all this I’ve realized…
I’m a GEEK.
It really doesn’t change anything. Doesn’t mean that much. But it was fun to figure that out.
And that’s why I wrote this for you too.
So, BAMMER, now that you know that geeks and nerds are NOT the same thing…
Which one are you?
(And if you’re like, “NEITHER!”, I want to believe you… I really do… but you’re reading the BAM! blog so…
Embrace it, and let us know what you are in the community!
Because whichever one you are, one thing is clear…
We BOTH won.