The nerd phobia

By Radha Paul

What does being a nerd mean? We might never know. But what we can decode is that, is being a nerd okay or not?

The word nerd is defined as, a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious. ( oxford dictionary)

This is deeply offensive to me because everyone around me including me usually describes myself as a nerd. Also, aren’t the words foolish and studious contradicting each other here? Nerding out is literally a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. This lead me to believe that being called a nerd is actually a cool thing. But when I came across the dictionary definition, I was in shock. It felt like all my so called coolness was ripped away from me. I do agree that I am more antisocial than most people but how come something you enjoy doing, be boring? How can someone be boringly studious if they find it interesting?

And then it occurred to me, nerds don’t have boring interests. They just seem boring to people who have different preferences. Someone who likes going out to parties almost everyday might not find my staying at home, reading a book regime interesting. It’s not like I don’t like going to parties and letting my hair down. But the thing is, I would always prefer a book that allows me to discover a new sense and perspective over a cocktail that forces me to loose my senses.

Another definition comes from Cambridge dictionary:

A person who is not attractive and is awkward or socially embarrassing.

Now, this one should be more offensive to me but surprisingly after reading the oxford dictionary definition, I find this one much funnier. So after ripping away my coolness, they came after my looks and general behaviour. But honestly this is no one’s fault. This is how I use to picture nerds as well (obviously before I became one myself).

A very famous american tv show called Friends was something that sort of shaped the way I looked at the world. One of the main characters on the show was Ross. Now the way Ross was portrayed on the show was in a way a little brutal. The series is obviously very funny. But it portrays a man who is a great scholar and has a PhD in paleontology as someone who is an uninteresting person with boring hobbies. From humourous point of view, this was brilliant writing by the writers of the show. Thus, it paints a picture for the audience where the American society seems to have a certain point of view about the scholars and the nerds of the world.

However, after reading Merriam webster’s definition(second half) of the word nerd, I felt a little better. It says:

One slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.

Although, the word slavishly does carry a stain in the definition but it still seems better than being called awkward and unattractive.

After all the grinding I did in order to find out the meaning of the word I identify myself with, I came to the conclusion that who cares what the dictionary says nerd means. I like the word and I will create my own definition for it, validly inspired by the real meaning. Maybe I am awkward in conversations that go out of my comfort zone, but who isn’t. Everyone feels awkward at some point but some are just better at hiding than others. And what is this instrument that determines whether a person is attractive or not. Oh yeah! The instrument is called media- the magazines and the certain way, they want us to look. Also, my lack of social skills is something I take as a good quality because that allows me to be more observant which is a great skill for someone who likes to write.

So basically, if you want to be a nerd.. be one. Wear the title with pride. Turn all that they think is your weakness into strengths. Don’t let the definitions confine you. Be what you want to be, create your own identity and embrace it.(#nerdingout #beinganerd)