They are quirky. They are introverted. They wear bizarre clothes or dress more conservatively than your mother. They don’t often care about what others think of them. They tend to have hobbies and interests that are “single-player”. They make esoteric jokes about math, science, historical figures and events, poets and authors, and anything else that you just have to be a nerd to understand. They are shy, will not raise much attention to themselves unless they hear a grammatical error in someone’s speech or writing, and often wait for other people to introduce themselves before initiating a conversation. Nerds are an amazing group of people, and even though many do not understand their culture, they have immense potential in augmenting the world around them.
Nerds may be found in a plethora of places. There are nerds within most areas of higher education, many career fields that require high amounts of mental power (engineering, science, literature, mathematics, medicine, and others), in front of a computer screen or consumed inside of a book.
Barrett, the Honors College, at Arizona State University is one place that is full of these unique and special people. Sometimes it feels as though you are stepping into another dimension, no longer in the confines of ASU, when you enter into this kingdom of nerds. For many, it is their sanctuary, their place of tranquility that they come to for rest and relaxation after having to deal with the hustle and bustle of daily life on campus.
Nerds change the world around us dramatically. They create new technology that launches us into the next generation of electronics; they make fuel cells and solar panels to create a more sustainable urban environment, they design and build prosthetic limbs and joints for amputees or older people, they make spacecraft that explore the universe beyond Earth, and they create the medicine that protects us from debilitating diseases. However, they also make the weapons that cause the deaths of many, they make the video games that children and teenagers revolve their lives around, and they hardly ever vote for any political or governmental bill or politician.
Regardless of whether they use their power for good or evil, nerds – contrary to popular stereotype – have the power to influence the entire human race in ways others may only dream of. One major aspect of nerds that the stereotype fails to notice is that nerds are actually able to think more uniquely because of their detachment to other groups and cultures. Their individuality procures a kind of creativity that allows nerds to be innovative – coming up with novel ideas and hypotheses that propel science and technology beyond its current boundaries.
Though nerds may be difficult to understand, weird, and seculsive, these qualities affect them positively. There are those who disdain nerds, stereotyping them and believing all of their unique characteristics are negative attributes, but when analyzed more carefully their traits are more strong suits than flaws. These idiosyncrasies supply nerds with the faculty required to invent new theories, machines, and objects that few others would think of. Consequently, next time you are observing how strange a nerd is acting, see it as a positive eccentricity rather than a reason to condescend them.