Essay Nerd Culture

Essay Nerd Culture

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Dork, dweeb, geek, techie, or trekkie? What is a nerd? Dr. Suess first used the word “nerd” in 1950 it described a “small, unkempt, humanoid creature with a large head and a comically disapproving expression”. Newsweek, just a year later, reported the word beginning to take on a derogatory meaning as someone who is dull, and rigidly conventional. Over the next two decades, the meaning of the word did not improve. In 1971, The Observer called nerds, “people who don't live meaningful lives,” and The Chicago Tribune put it simply in 2002, “silicon valley”. Considering nerd is a slang word, the volatility of its meaning and usage is not surprising. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the meaning of the word is changing again. Behind the change this time is the internet, acting as a boundless breeding ground for communities. The web has united nerds, transforming the label from a derogatory categorization to one that people generally embrace.

The web has spurred communities exclusive to nerds. "News for nerds. Stuff that matters," reads the slogan of popular blog Slashdot. This blog, which receives 5.5 million visits a month, reports on “Linux, Technology, Games, Apple, and Science”. Voted on Yahoo in 2001 as the “Best Geek Hangout,” it has truly created a community for nerds to discuss their interests. As a result, the site sees active participation from its readers who discuss with others around the world with similar interests. These virtual conversations provide an outlet for visitors to express interests that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. Unlike other popular blogs, Slashdot publishes user submitted content alongside editor created. Because the minimum threshold of knowledge needed to contribute to the d...


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...hat would normally be considered nerdy. Ultimately, what that means is that being a “nerd” these days does not have to mean being any different. Even better, when people do find out about the site the general response is positive.

It is undeniable that the internet is changing our daily lives, whether it is buying clothes off ebay, getting directions from google, or making decisions with Microsoft Bing. Likewise, the internet has changed connotation of the word nerd. By allowing big and small communities to grow and making nerd news mass media, the internet is defying what it classically meant to be a nerd. While the transformation is not complete, the evidence of change is apparent today: In writing this essay I was called a nerd too many times to count, yet not once did I feel insulted, instead each time the name calling was received with a smile and laugh.

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