What Makes You a Nerd?

A1bCf-Xhe4LThis evening I had the pleasure of appearing as a guest on a podcast called Nerds on Tap. It was much longer than other podcast chats I’ve done, but I had a great time with Jim, Chris, and Joseph. The podcast isn’t live yet.

I was informed before the podcast that I would be asked what makes me a nerd. I’ve been asked that question on a few other podcasts–I think nerds like to compare credentials to one another. I had a few books, TV shows, and movies to cite, as well as the nerdiest thing of all, that I design and publishing board games as my job.

But I really got to thinking about what makes me a nerd, and I realized that it isn’t about specific geeky references or my gaming hobby. Rather, I think it boils down to the following three things that other nerds might identify with:

  1. The excitement I feel for something before it’s released. As a nerd, I’m constantly tapped into a reservoir of energy directed towards things that haven’t been released yet. I get really, really excited about things that barely exist–books that haven’t even been written, movies that haven’t been filmed, games that have a single piece of art. Just the other day I learned that Steven Spielberg will be directing the Ready Player One movie, and I couldn’t even contain the excitement I felt (I tweeted about it).
  2. The paranoia I feel for something after it’s been released but before I’ve experienced it. The fear of spoilers is amplified exponentially when you’re a nerd. When I didn’t watch the Walking Dead finale until a day after it aired last week, I basically had to stay off social media completely to avoid any mention of it. When the final Harry Potter book was released, I didn’t even leave my condo that weekend leading up to the arrival of my book lest someone shout it from a passing car. (Okay, that was a bit extreme, but it happened.)
  3. The sincerity with which I discuss the thing after I’ve experienced it. Nerds embrace fictional worlds for conversation as if they actually exist. I’ve had lengthy discussions about Game of Thrones as if the characters were real people. I’ve lingered after long after movies end to discuss what they mean and what might happen next. I like that nerds are willing to suspend reality for good conversation.

That’s what being a nerd means to me. Can you relate to any of those items on the list? What’s missing?

3 thoughts on “What Makes You a Nerd?”

  1. I think nerdom really needs to get away from the consumption aspect. I’ve seen this more and more over the last couple of years. It used to be we had Physics Nerds, Car Nerds, and so on. Now, it’s just about what media you consume, which I find troubling. So… I would add a fourth item: Extrapolating your nerdly endeavors into your own personal documentary movie. I find that when I am really into something, I’m often quantifying it poetically as a metaphor for my day to day life.

    • Joel: That’s a good point, I focused more on the consumption end of nerdom than the creative side. I guess, for me, the creative side of me is just me–it’s isn’t under the umbrella of being a nerd. I just create stuff I like to create.

      That’s an interesting fourth item!

      • Consumption and creativity definitely intersect. The consumption comes from sharing it with others, which can also lead to fan content, which is also a huge part of being a “nerd” I think…. adding your own take to the things you fall in love with.


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