Why Being a Nerd Isn’t a Bad Thing

Frank Quitely

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Look no further than a Google search of the word “nerd” to see how they’re stereotyped. Images show men in coke-bottle glasses, bow ties and pants that go up past their belly button–these are “nerds” and how they’re stereotyped.

Yet being a nerd isn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

“Being a nerd is being someone who is enthusiastic about something,” says Jess Castine, a Pentucket Junior.

Following that logic, the people who paint their faces for football games are no better or worse than those who cosplay (dress up as) their favorite characters at comic conventions.

Yet society seems split down the middle on what to think of nerds. Scott Strandberg, a teacher at Pentucket says “Society’s definition of a nerd is someone who’s out of touch with fashion trends, pop culture. Someone who reads a lot and overemphasizes academic pursuits. They’re books that get judged by their cover.” Most nerds, according to Scott Strandberg, are judged harshly by the media.

On the flipside, there are some people that see nerds portrayed in a positive light by the media. Jess Castine went on to say, “I think the media does help the representation of nerds in some ways- there is, of course, negative representation in various archetypes found in shows, and those are bad. But the better representation is coming out through showing self proclaimed nerds that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ for liking what they like.” There are plenty of examples of the “good nerd.” For example, Hermione Granger, Peter Parker or Clark Kent show that nerds can be heroes.

In the case of the media representation of nerds, there can be two portrayals. 1. Something like The Big Bang Theory, which is the opposite of the previously mentioned “good nerds.” Nerds are sweaty comic loving information junkies who can’t form a coherent sentence around a woman, and 2. Something like the show Community, in which nerds are written as people—they all have faults and virtues and their way of life is celebrated instead of mocked. In the Big Bang Theory, nerds are portrayed negatively for liking paintball, yet in Community paintball is taken seriously and portrayed as such. What’s a joke in one show is glamorized in the other.

All in all, society needs to decide that being a nerd isn’t a bad thing and that nerds should embrace doing what they like and not be mocked for it.

Speaking of mocking, there are several instances of people being bullied for being a nerd. Award winning author John Green famously said, “When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’” Most that identify as nerds do not understand the bullying. “Being bullied because you are seen as a nerd doesn’t make sense to me,” says Justin Peavey, Pentucket Sophomore.

Why do people insist on mocking others for being passionate about something? People are mocked for partaking in role playing games such as World of Warcraft, yet an activity such as Fantasy Football is glorified and somewhat praised. Most agree that bullying gets internalized and has effects, one person going so far as to say, “My reaction would probably be to internalize the emotions that came with it and probably just let it be, even though I would (and have) feel horrible about it.

So if one is to get bullied, one should keep in mind that though people are trying to make fun of a person, they’re really just telling the person ‘you are passionate about the thing.’ Be proud of having something to be passionate about. Not everyone has that, and in truth, it’s something to cherish.