Hello! It's been a while. Have you missed me, my darlings? I sure have missed you. Parenthood is like hard and stuff. Anyway, enough with the apologies. I'm back with my brand new invention1.
I've been thinking about the differences between being a geek and being a nerd. I'm sure there is a Venn Diagram which would help me sort it out, but quite frankly I can't draw a circle to save my life, so forgive me for the lack of visuals. Both terms have found their way into popular culture - from Zach Levi's Nerd Machine and Chris Hardwick's Nerdist empire to Felicia Day's Geek and Sundry and the mere existence of geek-chic. Nerds and geeks are everywhere. There is a lot of crossover here, and we're seeing what was once a marginalized sub-culture becoming assimilated into popular culture. In the 80s, these types were a laughable stereotype (at best) used for comic relief2 in our teen dramas. I think you can just look at Anthony Michael Hall's early career to see what I mean. I often find myself wondering if 'geek' and 'nerd' are even two distinct terms3 anymore.
In many ways, both terms reference a social outcast - be that due to an actual lack of social skills or eccentric personality or a combination of those and other factors. At any rate, I think 'out of the mainstream' is a good way to think of it. But what, then, happens when certain hallmarks and behaviors and even ideologies become socially acceptable or even normal4?
Is, perhaps, 'geek' a sort of substratum of 'nerd'? Vice versa? Are nerds heavily involved with video gaming while geeks are creating the technology to make it happen too? I suggest that the term 'nerd' refers to the overarching sub-culture while 'geek' represents a specific, intense interest in a subject (for example: music geek, comic book geek, film geek, etc...). The tricky question is whether it's possible to be one without falling into the other category as well. Is a fantasy football (or baseball) geek also a nerd? Can you even call that person a geek (if even behind her back)?
I'm at a loss, so I'm sure there will be more posts on this topic. Let me know what you think. That is, after all, what the comment box below is for. I promise not to dole out wedgies if I disagree.
1 - You're welcome.
2 - You will also notice a strong current of the type of anti-intellectualism which is and has long been a dark facet of American life.
3 - I am, of course, neglecting the Carny version of the term geek - which is the original usage referring to someone who bites the heads off of chickens, eats nails and glass, etc..
4 - Everyone knows Han shot first.
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