I am a nerd. I know, this may come as a huge surprise to all of you, but I’m extremely comfortable with this fact. Sadly, most people are not comfortable with nerds. In fact, they treat nerds as second-class citizens (until they need their computers fixed). We nerds are different. Abnormal. We don’t act like regular members of society.
Or do we?
I speak not only from personal experience in this, but from my observations and discussions with other sub-humans (which is how nerds are often made to feel by “better” folk). What is it about nerds that make us such exiles from polite society? Yes, I know that there’s been a recent trend of “nerds are cool,” but we still have a long way to go before we’re allowed to vote and be in the military. Or was that someone else?
Not to trivialize the plights of other groups that are looked down upon in society, of course; I simply believe every single person has the right to be treated based on how they treat others, not on how they amuse themselves. A nerd will gain entertainment by sitting on their couch and watching Star Trek, or maybe logging in to a computer game and pretending to be an Elf. That’s pretty stupid, isn’t it? Most men my age would be sitting on their couch and watching football, or logging into a Fantasy Sports site and pretending to be a team manager. Oh, wait a minute… those sound remarkably similar, don’t they?
You see, nerds are exactly the same as anybody else, but in different areas than most others. Society thinks it’s weird how we remember how THAC0 and Armour Class interact, and how THAC0 was actually done away with in Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition (Editor’s Note: It’s a change I actually liked and thought made good sense). We think its weird how it’s considered “normal” to memorize decades of sports statistics and salary levels. We’re laughed at for not knowing how many outs are in an inning, but the reverse is rarely true; how often have you seen a group of nerds snorting derisively at a “regular” person for not knowing the difference between Shadowfax and Roheryn?
When I’m not among other nerds, I feel like I need to be constantly on guard. I work in a male-dominated business, so the topic of sports is typically the talk of the day. When customers (or coworkers who don’t know me better) attempt to involve me in these conversations, I feel immensely uncomfortable. Do I let them know my secret shame of ignorance? Typically, I just give non-committal grunts and smiles, trying not to come out of the closet and tell them I’ve no clue what they’re talking about. When I do let them know that I don’t really care for sports, I typically get shocked replies. One stranger even made the comment (and I quote) “what the hell is wrong with you?”
Is this really any way to be forced to live?
For those of you out there are are “normal,” I plead with you. For those who prefer Payton Manning over Clayton Forrester, do not judge us based on our preferences. For those who would rather watch Monday Night Football than Doctor Who, do not give us your scorn. For those who would rather look at Maria Sharapova than… okay, we look at Maria Sharapova, too.
See? We’re really not so different, after all!
Until there is no more discrimination against nerds everywhere, I’ll be lurking in the limelight.