Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On Being a Nerd/Geek

So, according to Facebook, today is Geek/Nerd Pride Day. (From this point on, I will use the terms "geek" and "nerd" interchangeably.) You could say I've always been a nerd, even from the time I was a little kid. While most 5-year-old boys liked playing outside, there was nowhere else I wanted to be than in front of that old Commodore 64. We don't need to go into what caused me to be a nerd from that age, especially since most of my Facebook friends have heard about it a million times. I'll talk about what being a geek means and doesn't mean to me, how not everyone with A.S. should be considered a nerd, and how I'm different from some other geeks you might know.
First off: What does being a geek mean to me? Well, for one, it means showing interest in things that are somewhat abnormal. In a previous post, I asked you to think about the things the guys in your life liked. Well, now, I'm going to ask you to think about what the 22-year-old guys and girls in your life, whether that includes you or not, like. In most cases, you'd probably say things like some form of sports, computer/video games, R-rated films, current prime-time network television, etc. Well, guess what? I really am not a fan of any of those things. I'm not saying that being a fan of those things, no matter what age you are, makes you a bad person. What I am saying is that most 22-year-olds, at least in my experience, aren't really fans of Star Trek, music/shows/etc. from the 70's and 80's, Disney/Nickelodeon sitcoms/movies, and the like...but I'm a fan of all those things. I'm not ashamed of any of that; in fact, if I'm the only person my age who likes that stuff, I'm proud of it.
Now, you may be asking: What does it not mean to me? First off, spending a lot of time in front of a computer does not make you a nerd. In the past, it would have, but, nowadays, with the addictiveness of sites like Facebook, it seems like people everywhere are spending more time on their computers than they used to. Also, being smart, even ridiculously smart, does not necessarily make you a nerd. If you had one of the highest GPAs in your graduating class, or if you were in a bunch of Honors, AP, or IB classes, that doesn't make you a geek. Don't get me wrong; if your grades were that high, you were definitely smart. Still, I know a good part of the people who were at the top of my graduating class, and I definitely would not call them nerds. A good part of them were involved in sports, which, IMO, disqualifies them from being geeks right there. My lack of interest in sports is one of the things that makes me a geek. Being a nerd isn't just about your intelligence; it's also about your interests.
On to my second point: Why shouldn't everyone with A.S. be considered a nerd? I'll admit that my A.S. gives me somewhat geeky tendencies, but my upbringing is also part of that as well. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: It is not an autistic thing to like sci-fi/fantasy, dislike sports, or like/dislike any of the other stuff I do. In fact, I have heard of cases where people with A.S. loved sports, hated Disney, etc. I don't need to go into the details, but I will say this: If my life situation had been different when I was younger, I might very well be a sports freak today. (Note that, by using the term "freak," I am not insulting anyone. The term "freak" means a lot of things, and one definition is "ardent enthusiast." You may be a "sports freak," but I'll readily admit that I am a yard/garage sale freak. Look it up if you don't believe me.) A.S. doesn't affect what you're into; it just affects how much you're into it. On to something else.
My final point: How am I different from other geeks you might know? Put simply: My tastes are not completely different from popular opinion. I mentioned before that I like music from decades past, and, yes, I do have a lot of it on my iPod. However, I also have plenty of popular songs from the past decade on there as well. I have songs such as "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" by Gym Class Heroes, "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers, "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles, "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm, "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne, "Then the Morning Comes" by Smash Mouth, and plenty of other hits from the 2000's, alongside older songs. Also, some of the things that people would think all geeks like, I don't. For example, I hate Lord of the Rings. I couldn't even understand the first book, and the first movie was drawn-out and boring. I am not really a fan of computer/video games, either. I'll admit I used to be a big fan of them, especially Nintendo games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, but I sold all of them years ago, and I don't have a single game installed on my laptop, other than the ones that came with it, which I don't play. When I'm on a computer, I'm usually blogging, chatting with friends, etc.
In closing, I will say this: I realize that I may be different from anyone else you know. I'll admit it; I'm unique. Still, that doesn't make me any less of a person than you are. I deserve to be loved, respected, and to have friends, even if they don't have the exact same interests. My friends will tell you: If you don't want to be my friend because I'm different, then you are missing out. I admit I've lost some friends because of mistakes I've made, but, as one of my favorite people in the whole wide world once said to me, "A lapse in judgment does not define you." We all make mistakes, and I'm no closer to perfect than anyone else you know. You can accept me for who I am, or you can shun me and refuse to be my friend. The choice is yours.

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