Nerd Culture Elitism
by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
Nerds are not typically the first group that comes to mind in reference to entitlement, superiority, and other forms of snobbery. Most notably, nerds have been the antithesis of all things “establishment” with their general disregard for outside opinions on what is or isn’t cool, what is or isn’t acceptable. Gaining mainstream acceptance hasn’t been an issue, because origins of all things nerd are firmly rooted in anti-mainstream interests. The “nerd revolution” of recent years—marked by thousands flocking to things like Comic-Con, and access to more nerd-friendly entertainment than ever before — has contributed to a decidedly unpleasant shift in nerd culture. Nerd elitism is threatening to re-label an otherwise positive community, and we should snuff it out before it spreads.
What do I mean by “nerd elitism,” you ask? Simply put, this phrase can be applied to any of the following situations:
– Someone being asked to prove their nerdiness to one or more people due to lack of sufficient evidence.
– A female’s interests being questioned by other females due to her physical appearance, i.e. being too “hot,” or not hot enough, or anything in between. (Girl-on-girl crime is a real thing! Let’s stick together, ladies).
– Someone being asked to slowly exit the vehicle and show their nerd I.D. after failing to recall the episode number of their favorite Star Trek moment.
– One person challenging another person to a nerd-off consisting of Jedi trivia and a Dance Dance Revolution throw-down. (I made this last one up, you guys… mostly for mood-lightening purposes, and also because it seems SUPER fun).
This “prove yourself worthy” sentiment is strange coming from within the nerd community because it is and has always been just that — a community; it’s a place of belonging for like-minded individuals that formed as a direct response to feeling underrepresented, or even to some extent, unaccepted elsewhere. To turn that place of acceptance and belonging into a members-only club is hypocritical to say the least. That being said, everyone should probably have at least one Members Only jacket in their closet because they are bomb dot com. But probably not as bomb dot com as our very own Nerd Tech Jacket! SHAMELESS PLUG.
On top of being hypocritical, nerd elitism is just plain illogical. Being nerdy is subjective. One person is nerdy about one thing and someone else is nerdy about another thing, and no one person can fit “nerd” into a perfectly defined box. The Steve Urkel stereotype is dead and gone; it’s been replaced with the most diverse group of individuals of any community, and that’s something that we can all be proud of.
No need to panic, the upside is that this isn’t an out of control problem. Most nerds are not like this! I’m thankful to be associated with such a positive organization like The Nerd Machine, where it isn’t about who ranks highest on the nerdometer. The very reason I wrote this article is because you guys are so cool, and I know you can spread the word throughout the larger community. Leadership is important wherever you find yourself, so why not start with this? We don’t want the 10% elite getting too loud or they’ll drown out the 90% of cool people that wear their nerd badge proudly, and without judgment of how anyone else is wearing theirs.
But obviously, the most important thing in all of this is that we won’t be able to take over the world until we form a united front.
Cheers to you, nerd army!