A Nerd's Popularity

"To think or not to think? That is the new question."
-Nadina Boun
It used to be that nerds were mocked, made fun of, and looked down upon. They liked things like comics and videogames and math and science and books. But recently, society has taken a turn. Our culture is now interested in Marvel vs. DC, in videogames and the internet, and in keeping our bookstores alive. Superhero movies are all the rage. Gaming channels on YouTube have hundreds of thousands of subscribers, sometimes millions. Nerds have become popular. At least, that's what our culture thinks. But I disagree. I think that nerds exist in approximately the same ratio that they've had before. Only the appearance has changed, and I'll explain why I believe that in today's post.

The explosion of "nerd" culture can be most easily seen in the recent popularity of videogames and superhero movies. Even Star Wars: The Force Awakens was an instant hit. And yet, I've heard very few people complain about the way Disney has treated the Star Wars Expanded Universe. I've seen many games reach popularity through their combat aspects, and the recent movies from Marvel also seem to be primarily action movies. That is to say, the content that used to be enjoyed exclusively by nerds has become much more popular, but I don't think that the culture has changed so much as the content has. Things that once had a style that only a nerd would enjoy have now become more broad and allow for more people to enjoy them.

I see being a nerd as being about analysis. About looking deeper than people would normally think to look. Previously, this applied to comics, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, etc. People would debate over the specifics of a person's powers and what they could do, or would study the Mandalorian language, or would read side-stories to figure out the main one, or would design long, elaborate storylines that take a lot of math to figure out. I think that this is what made the nerds nerdy. These interests themselves simply lent themselves easily to analysis, rather than being what made a nerd a nerd.

As our technology and culture have been changing, the lines defining nerdiness have been blurred. The internet has made it easier (to some extent) to identify and find the nerds, making them seem proportionately more abundant. Similarly, because the internet has made information far easier to access, analysis has become more common, and nerdiness has become a bit more popular (though, not by as much, methinks, as people believe). But nerds are still defined by their analytical and overthinking nature, rather than their interests themselves. American football, for example, is no longer something that nerds are barred from enjoying, because of the easy availability of stats, statistics, graphs, and more information about the game. Similarly, comics are no longer restricted to nerds only, because of the action that's been inserted and the way that they've been made easier to understand.

The point is that the nerds will be the ones who think about the details about whatever it is, past the point that most people would. A nerd wouldn't say to stop overthinking something, a nerd would encourage further thought. Being a nerd isn't about the interests, it's about the reasoning and thought behind the interests. Anything can be analyzed and looked at with intensity, and anything can be viewed with simplicity. But the fandom doesn't make the person something that they're not. I think, in a way, that it's good that interests have become broader and enjoyable to more people. However, nerds are still relatively unpopular. The only difference is that the words have changed.
"Why is being a nerd bad? Saying I notice you’re a nerd is like saying, ‘Hey, I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Linsey Lohan. Why is that?"
-John Green

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