Nerds, Geeks, and Dorks

I'd like to start out by saying that tonight's post is NOT meant to offend anyone. It is simply an analysis of terminology used in America, and my opinion of what certain categorizations mean. If anyone takes offense or thinks that I'm unjustly promoting unfair stereotypes, you're probably a jock and stumbled on to my site while searching for...something else. The following is meant for entertainment purposes ONLY:

Nerds are vicious creatures, superior in their intellectual greatness and using other people's stupidity and ignorance to make themselves look better at every opportunity. A nerd is a social outcast, someone who never, ever would be invited to a party, and who suffers emotional and physical scars at the hands of popular kids, girls and jocks. The one thing most people agree on, whatever their level in the social food chain, is that nerds “bring it on themselves.” Oftentimes a nerd will intentionally provoke a bully. In the nerd's mind, he thinks that pointing out where someone went wrong on his homework assignment in front of a cute girl will impress her. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, and people are baffled by this behavior, not realizing that because reality is such a burden, the nerd dwells in a fantasy realm of his own creation, and repeated failure only drives him further into this realm. He SHOULD learn from repeated beatings, but they tend to have the opposite effect as he retreats from all social logic. Even when a nerd learns to keep quiet the damage may already be done, and “cool” kids will seek him out for entertainment purposes and CREATE situations where the wrong response still results in him “bringing it on himself.” One, er, hypothetical situation I could imagine would be the leader of a group of such kids instructing them to hit him “when you see the whites of his eyes!”, and the nerd not being able to keep his eyes closed until they leave. Another baffling aspect of the nerd is the strange tendency to turn on those who take him in. Sometimes kids are genuinely cool and accepting. Other times there are those kids who exist on the fringe, apart from the dichotomy of nerds and jocks, who manage to lead a normal life. When people like this accept a nerd into their group, instead of gratitude they often find themselves the object of ridicule. Why would the nerd lash out at those who would be his friends, or at the very least tolerate him? I used the term “vicious creature” earlier, and it's apt. A nerd is not unlike an animal that's been abused, beaten to the point of being feral. A nerd trusts no one, and is paranoid. Kindness is unfamiliar and could mask a trap. But what's most intriguing is that the nerd may have learned by example. People he sees as popular made fun of him; it's the cool thing to do. Therefore he may emulate his attackers when he encounters people who are not antagonistic, and try to establish dominance in the pack in an erroneous fashion that only makes him more of an outcast. (see Napoleon Dynamite; Urkel; Warren Meers)

Geeks are somewhat more socially acceptable than nerds. A geek may be invited to a party if he's friends with cooler people who are going. The mark of geekhood usually involves being a fanatic to the extreme about some hobby not accepted by the majority of a nation. It's okay for people to paint their faces at sporting events, but to dress up as your favorite comic book hero or science fiction character makes you an outsider(see FawnDoo's for more insight into this phenomena.) Geeks are more than fans; they possess encyclopedic knowledge of the things they love, the more obscure the better. A geek can have friends of various social classes, though he may be made fun of by all of them, including fellow geeks. Whereas nerds are predominantly male, in this age of technology and increasing science fiction, fantasy, and comic book movies being released to the general public on a grander scale, the female geek population has grown. As with most things in America, advertising influences public opinion. Best Buy thrives on making it look cool to shop for electronics on your lunch hour, or on a date, or on holidays, and it works. Music has an influence too and as the images of rock stars evolved, bands like Barenaked Ladies and Weezer made it cool to wear glasses, watch Sci Fi, and reference X-men. (see Jerry Steiner, Marshall Flinkman, Jonathan Levinson; Andrew Wells.)

Dorks are capable of normal behavior and are definitely invited to parties. They're the lovable goofballs, the class clowns, and the comic relief. A Dork is accepted not just because he can “turn it off”, but because people like to laugh. Dork qualities may actually be appealing to women who find such traits adorable, and many dorks are happily married. Dorks may share in the same interests as geeks and possess the intellectual abilities of nerds, but their hobbies are nothing more and their intelligence isn't wielded as a weapon. (see Eric Weiss; Ross Gellar)

* * *

I have at times in my life fallen into these categories, and others too numerous to mention. Despite my attempt at a humorous anthropological breakdown, it is of course impossible to simplify any one human being down to one tag. There are definite overlaps. In my formative years I was definitely a nerd, especially in elementary school. I don't think I made the transition to geek until college, but then and now still had the occasional backslide into being a nerd. It's important to recognize that there are all kinds of people in this world with different strengths and weaknesses, but at times it can degenerate into little more than name-calling, which is why such an exercise can be dangerous. Again, I apologize if this offended anyone. Now if you'll excuse me, ”I've wasted my life.”


Blogger TheWriteJerry said...

Ah, so now I know for sure...

I'm a geek, who can be a dork sometimes!

3/23/2005 8:44 AM  
Blogger Kev said...

You forgot Dweeb which combines all the best characteristics of the above. He sometimes uses his superior intellect and knowledge to make others look bad, he and often intentionally provokes the bullies. He has is a fanatic about his hobbies, but may have cool friends that kind of make him look good. And he is a goofball that knows when to turn it off.
See Dr. Daniel Jackson in the movie version of Stargate and the first couple of seasons of the TV show SG-1.

3/23/2005 12:19 PM  
Blogger averagejoe said...

I'm a dorkish nerd in geek's clothing. :-)

3/23/2005 10:44 PM  

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