This week, I had a rare moment to sit down in my living room and watch TV. As I browsed the channels, I passed over "Real Housewives," sports and entertainment news and settled in for some quality programming – "American Pickers" on The History Channel. For those who may have not heard of this great slice of American television, it follows two men who travel across the country searching for items in people’s sheds, garages and basements in hopes of finding a gem to sell to collectors. It is a fascinating to watch as they find rare and unique items and barter with the owners on prices. If anything, "American Pickers" shows that there can be quality "reality" programming on television nowadays. It also shows another thing – I am a major nerd.
Contrary to what some people may think, I am not ashamed at all of professing this fact in print. Even with billionaire nerds and geeks like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs running the world at the moment and hit TV shows like "Chuck" and "The Big Bang Theory," there is still a negative connotation to these words. As a society, we still think of the person in the corner reading about dinosaurs or chemistry with a pocket protector and tape on their glasses. We still want to laugh at someone for being a little different and having interests that are outside what is considered the norm. If anything, it is a fear of the unknown that scares society that ultimately causes this rejection. But that’s getting way too deep into psychology for this article. This is meant to be a piece about nerd pride, not a "Dr. Phil" special.
More than anything, being a nerd or a geek means wanting to gain more knowledge about any given subject. There are some who want to learn about general things and they fulfill their curiosity by picking up a historical non-fiction book from Barnes and Noble or tuning into the Discovery Channel for "Shark Week." Others are nerds because they are very interested in a certain topic, like Trekkies or the people who go to ComicCon.
I know personally, I fill both sub-categories and I know I am not the only one. Not only will this help our chances at winning "Jeopardy," it means that we will actually be able to carry a conversation at a cocktail party.
On a side note, being a nerd and a geek is not only for those interested in science and technology. Every field has the potential for nerds and geeks, but instead use the words expert or connoisseur. At the heart of it, those people are nerds who get a fancy title and might get paid to study something they would have looked into for free.
Yet beyond all of this, being a nerd means something else. It means that someone has passion. Whether that passion is for "Star Trek," model trains, comic books, NASCAR, fly-fishing, regency novels, classic films or stamps, being passionate for something means being alive. Instead of being some dull, boring, cookie-cutter cool person who can not think beyond what they had for lunch, nerds embrace life and want to have fun with it before it all goes away. That, more than anything, is a reason to love being a nerd because at the end of the day, you have something that makes you happy and you can share with people who are just as nerdy as you. That is something to embrace and to celebrate about.
Now, even after reading this and you still scoff at the idea of being a geek or nerd, think about this. How many people freak out over March Madness or the Super Bowl, an episode of "Jersey Shore" or the latest trend featured in a fashion magazine? Although these things are considered "mainstream," you are still taking the time to give a damn about it and actively pursue learning more about it and doing all you can to gain more knowledge on it. You my friend, are a nerd.