Nerds come in all shapes and sizes. Gamers, Otaku, techies, Trekkies, geeks, Whovians, fanboys and cosplayers are just a few subsets that make up the nerd herd. Everywhere you look, there are nerds. Being nerdy isn’t just a trend taking over pop culture, it’s the trend. After being considered the social pariahs for so long, nerds have not only assimilated into pop culture, but they are taking it by storm.
The word nerd has a different meaning now than it did a few years ago. For those called a nerd, it meant you were on the outside, looking in.
“If you were called a nerd in school, that was a social death sentence,” said sophomore Ryan Jones.
Banned to the worst tables, nerds were told to wait for the day when the balance of power would shift. Teachers who believed in technological advancement had posters of Bill Gates with his famous saying, “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”
Much like the other outcasts of the past, nerds began to relish their title.
“The word otaku in the Japanese culture was originally an obsessive-compulsive shut-in,” self-described Uber-nerd Wayne Jondle said. “People who were like that took the word and owned it. It was kind of like when the LGBT community took the word gay and made it their own.”
Feeling a bit more secure in their title, nerds began to enter a new era of social standing. As the outcasts of the popularity hierarchy technological classes were the place to be. There, the labels were a matter of pride, and they were free to be themselves. When the laptop program came about ten years ago, things started to turn around. Being one of the kids with a laptop on campus was a status symbol of technological supremacy.
Superhero movies took over the silver screen and nerds continued their climb up the social ladder. As the popularity of comic book movies continued to soar, more nerdy things became mainstream. Television cashed in on the trend quickly with the show “The Big Bang Theory.” Some people didn’t stay attached to the show.
“Some of the plots just stopped connecting so well,” stated sophomore Devon Culy. “They were originally aiming for a geeky audience. As it got more popular, the demand shifted over to poking fun at the geeky culture.”
Riding the coattails of success from all the media hype, people began to see nerds in a different light.
”People began to awaken to them,” said sophomore Dommy A,. “We have flavor, pizzaz and what people are looking for – interesting conversation.”
Once it became acceptable to be around a nerd, people flocked to it. Older shows like Star Trek became popular again through the JJ Abrams movies. However, blending in with the longtime nerds has proven to be a difficult task. Those who were part of the fandoms long before they were popular have an intricate knowledge of the universe everything took place in.
“More traditional geeks and nerds have an appreciation for it on a different level, not because they are more awake, but because they have 50-75 years of reading material. A lot of the fans of current pop culture are therefore the surface level.“ Johndle said.
They all come together in the melting pot called conventions. These “cons” can run the gambit from gaming, comics, anime, cosplay to sci fi. These conventions are the mecca for nerds of all sorts. No matter whether you are new to the scene or an experienced con attendee, there is always something to see.
So welcome one and all. Come join the legion and embrace your nerdy side.