What is a Nerd?

By Talia Honikmanth-38

Have you ever been called a nerd?

Lots of movies, books, and other forms of media classify being a nerd as a negative thing. The stereotype that consists of a smarter-than-average, maybe slightly socially awkward or spazzy student who is teased, taunted, or outcast mainly for being smart. In reality, nerds are more often just separate from the rest of the herd. They might just be more mature than everyone else; they sense things other people don’t within the social aspect of junior high. A lot of the people I talked to suggested that nerds just know better than to intrude into the unnecessary drama that comes with being insecure. Besides, a “nerd” in the media—the one with glasses and braces, weird clothes, and freckles who is some variant of a child genius—is very different from what some students at SBJHS think a “nerd” is.

If you look up “nerd” in the dictionary, the definition is a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish clothes, hair, et cetera. It comes from the stereotypical definition of the word. But the times have changed enough since the first time this word was used that maybe this definition just isn’t accurate anymore.

I interviewed several students on what their opinions of what a nerd really is compared to the stereotypical version of a nerd. I think that these opinions are important to consider. “Nerds” and “geeks,” despite being famously grouped into stereotypes that, if you worry about your social image, you should avoid associating yourself with, are apparently not grouped as such any longer- or at least not as much so in our school.

“A nerd is someone who takes pride in their intelligence and their main purpose in life is to further it,” says eighth grader Bella Macioce, a self-acclaimed English nerd. “They know who they really are, and they’re proud to be themselves. They don’t [have to] hide anything away from the rest of the world.”

“To me, being called a nerd is not an insult, it’s a compliment,” says Coraline Crannell, and eighth grade student. “I’m like, thank you! You think I love school and care about my education and I’m going to succeed in life, and I do other things besides sitting on my butt and complaining, and lying about people and changing myself for others, and pretending I’m better than everyone else, and you’re right! Thank you so much!”

“A nerd is really an intelligent individual, someone who stands out in a crowd because they’re not trying to hide their true selves,” says Jocelyn Gallardo, a seventh grader. “They have passion for something and they work toward their goals in that something.”

Seventh grader Charlie Hess says that a nerd can be both the stereotype and something completely different. “They’re two different types of people,” he explains. “A nerd can be an un-athletic kid with glasses who’s smarter than everyone else. Or a nerd can be someone, anyone, who obsesses over specific things, maybe a rock star or a type of science, in a fun way. They know a lot about what they obsess over.”

Despite the opinions of these students, the belief of only stereotypical “nerds” walking through the hallways of schools still exist. And there will probably always be the grouped stereotype that comes with obsessing over things you enjoy: the band, theater, and choir “geeks,” the physics and English “nerds,” the crazy people who seem perfectly normal until you ask them what’s on their shirt, or what music they’re listening to, or what book they’re reading. Everyone has something they are “nerdy” about. It’s not a stereotype, it’s a quality. It is not something that anyone should ever be ashamed of.

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