Nerdisms: Destroying America


Hey there kids! Put your walk-mans down and listen up! Let’s “rap” for a second about nerds. Nerds, the social stragglers that make your stuff go just so you won’t beat them. Nerds, the… Actually, I’m sick of this already. I was browsing Graphjam today, and I ran across this:

I, like many, thought it was cute.  I even posted it on a certain social networking site that sounds like “Chase Crook.”  Then, I made the mistake of reading the comments, causing me to run across this gem:

“Nerds do not exist. Nerdisms are a threat to the success of society, and perpetuated by popular culture. Because of nerdisms, people subconsciously associate science, math and engineering with being ‘socially inept’ thus avoiding such unpopular fields. We are running out of scientists in the US and soon China, because of their immense quantity of engineers and scientists will become the world superpower.”

Now, without addressing the inherent Jingoism this quote, the rest of it is pretty spot-on. Maybe it’s the that’s-for-nerds factor, or maybe it’s the waah-it’s-hard factor (maybe even both), but I do tend to hear more kids my age talking about majoring in communications, business or English (to name a few) than I do in science-related fields (considering Math as the purest science, for the sake of grouping).

Of course, college major isn’t everything.  In fact, attacking a major would, by and large, be completely the wrong avenue, since there’s no accounting for (a) what you will actually do with your degree and (b) quite honestly, science isn’t for everyone.  Business, Politics, Education, and others can all be worthwhile pursuits — even entertainment is necessary to the vast bulk of society, nerd or otherwise.  This isn’t an attack on these fields, so much as question: why is it that science is almost treated with disdain?

I, for one, have no college degree, and I know there are plenty of us doing just fine without a fancy degree from a major institution saying that we can be, well, nerds.  Those of us who bear that title generally do so with pride; many of us took up the nerd banner at a young age, suffered social ostracism as children, and tinkered, and played, and stayed in figuring out just that one last problem (which of course led to the next thousand-or-so) that prepared us to move on, as adults, to bigger and better things.

I know that I can’t change society’s mind; it’s just not hip to be smart.  At this point, it’s almost a vicious cycle – in a society that engenders a distrust, or downright hatred, of smarter people when they’re children, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same children will lose out on the formation of critical social skills at a young age?  Oh, there are exceptions to this (and every) social rule, but popular culture makes sure that it stays firmly rooted as a mainstay of growing up: there’s cool kids, average kids, slime moulds, and nerds – in that order.

What’s the solution?  wish I knew.  How do you take a society like ours, with values and culture in the state they are in, and try to get it to really believe that maybe they don’t need to hate everything they don’t understand?  Well, now I am reaching too far…

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