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

by Key-Glyph Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:20 am

Seems like there are a few different schools for defining the "nerd quotient": one by the genre of a particular interest, one by the social standing of an interest, and one by the fervor exhibited for an interest. These often used to be bundled under the same heading, but aren't as much anymore.

I equate "nerd" with specific interests. It keeps the definition relatively stable and based in content rather than form, which is how I like it. It's practical. It's way less complicated to know that if someone says they're a nerd, they mean that they genuinely enjoy one or many items on a standardized roster of stuff. If it instead meant they enjoyed one or many items on a list of things that happened to be considered by the masses as nerdy today, as opposed to yesterday or next week, I think my head would explode. Unless they invent a Nerd Stock Market, I'd have to spend my time following trends and reclassifying hobbies as they fell in and out of style, or reclassifying people as they gained or lost obsessive drives for their pursuits. Not only is that a lot of work to keep up with, it's a little silly.

If we both like a certain hobby, we're in the same club and we have something to connect over. If you also happen annoy me, or I suddenly become less passionate about the hobby than you are, or you have a million friends and I'm upset that I don't, that doesn't make us any less connected as club members. It just means you're annoying, or I don't want to talk about the hobby quite as much as you do anymore, or you're Joe Cool and I'm immature about it, and such details might affect how much we hang out. These are all reasons independent of club membership, though.

If I cared about bragging rights, obscurity points, or relative popularity, then I'd be much more concerned about retaining the nerd = the underdog/under-appreciated/tragically misunderstood/too-unique-for-you definition. But I think the term has been reclaimed in the present. It's broken free. Nerd obviously carried a stigma before -- a lot of us lived it -- and I'm not saying we should wave that off. I just don't think the fact that cool people can be into "nerd" things nowadays detracts from the ballsiness of having pursued those interests back when they made you a target, or requires these hobbies to adopt different genre labels in response.
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Thierry Henry
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by Thierry Henry Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:45 am

Gamerforlife wrote: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.

If this forum had the facility for giving out reputation points, I'd totally rep you for this. :)
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Re: Is the modern nerd different from the nerds of old?

by BogusMeatFactory Mon Dec 24, 2012 11:03 pm

There is a definite difference between the "nerds" of old in comparison to the new generation. First, I want to give you my definition of Nerd, to better clear up any confusion and to drive my point home.

Nerd is a fascination and passion for any anything.

Like hip-hop in the late 70's and early 80's, the love of toy collectors and of historical re-creationists, the idea of nerd really applies to anyone with a diehard devotion to any particular field. This also folds into that of internet culture and the broad range of pop culture. The difference between "now" and "then" is ease of information. In the past, it was difficult to achieve the level of dedication needed in your passion-fueled hobby, simply because it was hard to gather information and even harder to connect and communicate with others. Now it is easy as pushing a single button.

Think of it like this. Imagine being a fan of the, "Cathode Ray Rube Amusement Device" of the 1940's. It is now the 1960's. Where would you go to learn about continued technologies to develop and enhance video games. Who would you talk to? You had to rely on limited run hobby magazines and that is it. Now you can learn about every minute detail of a subject without any restrictions. Not only that, but you can talk to others just like you and interact with them from great distances.

New nerds, at times, can never really grasp the full appreciation of a topic, because they lost the art of the hunt. That is not to say they are lesser nerds, hardly so, but there is definitely a cultural shift with the internet that has changed how we cultivate our passions.
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