Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,

Dork / Geek / Nerd

In lieu of an actual post, I'm just going to own a post-length comment I wrote in response to a historian friend who asked (after using a historical action figure as a prop in class): "Am I a nerd? Be honest. I can take it."

My response: Duh! *rolls eyes*

Though it really depends on exactly which definition of the term you're using.

Being popular slang, there's a lot of variation in how people use the terms, but there's a general consensus that the terms refer to various combinations of three traits: high-level intelligence/expertise, uncoolness, and social ineptness.

In my book, a geek is somebody who's a serious aficionado of something. Not just interested in their chosen subject, but a domain expert, with extensive and specialized knowledge and skills. A baseball fan will go to all the home games, while a baseball geek is the guy who can quote hundreds of stats at you.

Some people use 'dork' to refer to social ineptness and a general aura of uncool, and 'nerd' to mean someone who is both a geek and a dork. But I feel like 'nerdy' is the term that really encompasses social ineptness, while 'dorkitude' is the characteristic of that which has no regard for societal approval. There can be (and often is) overlap, but they're not the same thing. Hipsters, for example, have embraced the zen paradox of "dork as cool", because not caring what other people think is one of the key elements of cool, and moves you from trend-following to trend-setting.

So I run counter to most, and regard being dorky as a potentially praiseworthy term, while nerdiness is mostly derogatory. This is uncool, of course, because it means I'm at odds with society at large, but that's okay, because I own that, and more importantly, I know that I'm right. And that makes me cool again.

Having now demonstrated that I am dorktastically geeky by rambling on at length about nice and minute distinctions of meaning in terms that any normal person would fling about haphazardly and without care, I will now declare:

Dude. You're a historian. And you blog about it. Of course you're so uncool that it causes sorority girls physical pain! She was probably palming a bronchial inhaler to keep herself from going into anaphylactic shock from the allergic response. Imagine if you had actually touched her with your action figure -- she could well have exploded!

So you're a highly-skilled expert in your subject of fascination, which makes you a big ol' geek. And your geekiness is centered on a subject (history) which is not widely popular, being that it's not sports, TV, or politics, which also makes you a dork. But you're not a hot mess of social incapacity, either, so you're not a nerd.

All of which makes you an A+ mondo cool/uncool awesome freak, hooray! In my book, anyway. Woo!
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