The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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J T
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Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by J T Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:48 pm

I'm just curious if people think that the nerd identity has morphed over the past 10-20 years.

It seems to me that throughout the history of geek culture, the basic mold of the nerd is someone that has long been smarter than the average joe. His interests often lie in the realms of science and philisophy, which often manifest in his hobbies in the form of a love for high tech gadgetry, video games, and the moral plays of comic books. There's also this belief that the nerds were misunderstood and bullied in school for these interestes, and as a side effect of that, developed a sense of compassion for others that are bullied or downtrodden. This combination makes the nerd both elite in his intellect, but also a humble nice guy who's just a little standoffish in relationships because it's harder to trust people after the captain of the football team stomps on your Chewbacca action figure.

But since the internet perfected snark into an artform, I feel like the modern nerd has become a less noble figure. The modern nerd seems more mired in sarcasm and internet trolling. He's less intellectual than he once was and his proficiency with a computer is mostly related to being able to navigate 4chan and use torrentz. Spurned by women and unrestrained by online anonymity, he has become vengefully misogynistic. No more the nice guy that came in last, but actually a typical asshole who just now whines that he's a nice guy while simultaneously calling women fat stupid bitches that don't know what they are missing out on (yeah. right.).

Or maybe this is just a subspecies of nerd. I don't know. I've often proudly identified as a geek or nerd, but the way I've seen people behave across the internet in typically nerdy domains (gaming blogs, tech sites, etc) over the recent years has made me think that nerds of today aren't the intelligent-yet-sensitive types that I thought them to be. Maybe I'm wrong. What are your thoughts? What do you think of the nerd/geek culture of the modern day?
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o.pwuaioc
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by o.pwuaioc Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:58 pm

The younger generation is always worse than it actually is.
The older generation was always better than it actually was.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by BoringSupreez Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:08 pm

The difference between nerds and geeks of today is that it's coll to be a nerd/geek today. 10, 20, 30 years ago, it was just lame. People today are much more eager to call themselves nerds/geeks, so the average nerd/geek is much less of a nerd/geek than they were in years past. Part of the cause, at least for computer geeks, is that computers are much more noob friendly than they were in the '90s and '80s. You don't have to have much skill anymore to be a computer wiz. Comic book geeks are still geeks, though.
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J T
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by J T Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:14 pm

o.pwuaioc wrote:The younger generation is always worse than it actually is.
The older generation was always better than it actually was.


This is often true, which is why I brought up the topic. I can never tell if it's just changing personal perception, or I'm actually seeing a cultural shift.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by flojocabron Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:20 pm

nerd lifestyle is liking something that is not understood or popular.

back in the day when computers were not really understood by the general public, nerds were using them and so the moniker came to be.

but now computers are used by all, jock and geek alike. So what is the new underground?

what will be the new thing for the future nerds to like?

when that thing comes around and then becomes mainstream, a new subculture comes around for it.

so is the endless cycle. So when everyone is a nerd, does the nerd become the new jock?
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by Croooow! Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:23 pm

I definitely see where you get your impressions JT but I think its that nerds have diversified rather than changed en masse. The less noble, less intellectual types that you described have always existed but just recently have they latched on to interests that fall into the realm of geekdom. There are bitter/snarky/mean spirited people in every group and it was just a matter of time before they found their way into the nerd culture.

I know a lot of people in person and still see a lot of people online who still qualify as your quite/sensitive type and they are usually some of the most relationship/family focused people I know. I think people are largely capable of seeing the difference between the two and this change is simply proof that the previously niche interests of nerds are becoming more mainstream.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by CFFJR Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:29 pm

On a slightly different note, I've come to think that just about everyone exhibits "nerdy" behavior over some things.

Simply look at a hardcore sports fan jock. He crushes beer cans on his head (maybe, that's more a joke than anything) but if you ask him he can rattle off the stats of every player on his favorite teams, and he can tell you W/L records of his favorite teams going back to before he was born.

To me, this is unbelievably nerdy. Just because this guy is nerdy about sports rather than say, comic books, doesn't make it any less so.

My point is, everybody's got their quirks in this sense. Maybe the culture of the nerd is simply expanding and nobody's realized it yet.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by BoringSupreez Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:37 pm

CFFJR wrote:On a slightly different note, I've come to think that just about everyone exhibits "nerdy" behavior over some things.

Simply look at a hardcore sports fan jock. He crushes beer cans on his head (maybe, that's more a joke than anything) but if you ask him he can rattle off the stats of every player on his favorite teams, and he can tell you W/L records of his favorite teams going back to before he was born.

To me, this is unbelievably nerdy. Just because this guy is nerdy about sports rather than say, comic books, doesn't make it any less so.

My point is, everybody's got their quirks in this sense. Maybe the culture of the nerd is simply expanding and nobody's realized it yet.

But a nerd, at least traditionally, has been interested and knowledgeable on subjects that lacked widespread appeal. That's why they get put down as nerds.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by CFFJR Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:40 pm

BoringSupreez wrote:
CFFJR wrote:On a slightly different note, I've come to think that just about everyone exhibits "nerdy" behavior over some things.

Simply look at a hardcore sports fan jock. He crushes beer cans on his head (maybe, that's more a joke than anything) but if you ask him he can rattle off the stats of every player on his favorite teams, and he can tell you W/L records of his favorite teams going back to before he was born.

To me, this is unbelievably nerdy. Just because this guy is nerdy about sports rather than say, comic books, doesn't make it any less so.

My point is, everybody's got their quirks in this sense. Maybe the culture of the nerd is simply expanding and nobody's realized it yet.

But a nerd, at least traditionally, has been interested and knowledgeable on subjects that lacked widespread appeal. That's why they get put down as nerds.


Oh I know, you're totally right. That's where culture steps in and craps on something obvious.

You can't possibly be a nerd if you like sports! That just doesn't make sense!

Believe me, I've told some sports fans (like the one I described above) that they were nerds. They got very upset. :lol: It's sports! They say. That makes it okay.
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by Gamerforlife Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:41 pm

J T wrote:

But since the internet perfected snark into an artform, I feel like the modern nerd has become a less noble figure. The modern nerd seems more mired in sarcasm and internet trolling.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmE0oAtY5L4

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Anyway, To me, nerd should really mean someone who is very knowledgeable about something, like a science nerd or computer nerd. A geek is just an obsessive fan of something. For example, we are video game geeks and I'm a Joss Whedon geek. However, nobody seems to care about the actual definition of these words and many people use them interchangeably.

Personally, I'd like to live in a world that gets away from nerd/geek stereotypes. I enjoy listening to the Nerdist podcast because it is funny and often alerts me to cool movies, games, shows, podcasts, comedians and various other things I wouldn't have known about. However, I find it sad sometimes how strongly Chris Hardwick identifies with negative nerd/geek stereotypes and seems to revel in being the perfect example of so many of them. Which is to say, he proclaims all people who have the same interests as him to be socially awkward, unattractive, obsessive compulsive, bad with women, emotionally messed up and just about every other negative stereotype you can think of.

I want to live in a world where you can like sci fi, anime, D & D, video games, comic books, etc. without people automatically assuming you fall into every negative nerd/geek stereotype. I would even love for the words nerd and geek to completely fall out of usage in modern vernacular. Some of us so called nerds and geeks are not socially awkward, are good with women and consider ourselves emotionally well adjusted and fairly good looking. I listened to an interview with Ronald Moore(the guy who has worked on Star Trek and was the showrunner for the Battlestar Galactica reboot)once where he said all those labels didn't exist where he grew up. There was no social segregation between nerds, jocks, cheerleaders, arty kids, geeks, etc. Nobody cared what you were into just so long as they like you. That sounds like paradise
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