When I was in high school, I knew I was different. Not “I’m beautiful” different or “serial killer-in-the-making” different, just different. I was not really socially awkward, and in fact, had a rather large group of friends from all cliques. I felt different, maybe older in some ways. Slightly different because I was not always present and connected. My head was not necessarily in the clouds, but I had so much going on outside of high school, that at times, I was probably just “not there.” But, again, it was not like I was one of the complete outcasts, and I know some of my distance was my doing.
I *did* feel inferior in some ways: hair, clothes, makeup, braces, algebra. But, let me walk into English or history, and I walked a little taller, I was more confident, I was a superstar, I was HOME. There were kids who were more rounded than I: cheerleaders, drill team, band, or sports. I was quite content in my world with Ensemble and books. I had a decent voice, had solos in high school, where the world melted away and I forgot about my parents hating each other, how ugly I felt, how I missed my brothers. Those moments, the passion I had for music, books, English, and history, those were the beginnings of what I now recognize as “geekdom.”
I think the first time I really remember the word “nerd” was “Revenge of the Nerds.” I enjoyed the movie, but did not really identify with the nerds, although I definitely did not identify with the bullies and popular kids who were torturing the nerds. It was amusing, but even before they were called “nerds” they were present in many movies. I also remember Eugene being called “nerd” in Grease. I just recently learned that Dr. Seuss is the one who coined the phrase.
Fast forward many years. I was working as a 911 dispatcher and had a new girl to train. They told me her name, I did not know her, until she walked in and I realized it was an old school mate. We became best friends, but then, as happens sometimes, moved on to different jobs. Fast forward again, I was at the local college library, and I saw her at the card catalog (geez, I feel so old!). I went over and caught the back of her knee with mine, and our friendship was renewed. So much so, we took some classes together. SHE is the first one I ever remember calling me “geek,” because I was always reading and writing papers, and offering to edit her papers. Many a night was spent with us working on papers together.
Well, I have used the two words interchangeably the last fifteen or so years, not really wondering if there was a difference. But there is such a geek culture now, that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of webpages devoted to differentiating between nerd and geek. And, well, after reading some of these, I realize I am a GEEK. Loud and PROUD!
The most important tenet is nerds are socially awkward and withdrawn, and tend to expound on their subject matter with technical terms. Geeks are sociable and passionate, and tend to just go on and on about their subject matter(s). I pluralize that, because many geeks (I am one of them) have several things they are passionate about. I also read that you should never fall into the clutches of a geek. Well, I can attest to that – if you ever make the mistake of letting me talk about a book to you, I am so going to talk your ear off. Your eyes are going to glaze over, drool is going to run out the corner of your mouth, and if you were hooked up to a heart monitor, you would probably flat line. Well, that is, if you aren’t interested in books. If you like to read, then maybe…you might enjoy it. (Please, please tell me you enjoy reading….) I am also a self-professed Whovian (Doctor Who geek), a Whedonite (Joss Whedon follower and fan), a Sherlock geek, and a music geek…I try to be cognizant of the fact that not everyone loves these things like I do, but I still go on and on and on and on….(told you)
But, words, yeah, that’s my geek specialty. When I am not reading, I am looking up book stuff. When I am in my car, waiting on my adolescent, I am looking up the etymology of random words that pop in my head. I am thinking up sentences to describe the trite things surrounding me. I am dreaming up plots to books. I am remembering books I read as a child. I am messaging people, recommending books they should read so we can talk about them. I am mentally correcting people’s texts and status updates to spell them correctly (seriously, I have panic attacks over these things). In short, I live and breath words and books.
Actually, I just saw a meme someone did that had an open book on it, and the words “Just in case things get boring, I’m bringing a book.” That sums up my life. I almost always have a book, and if it’s someplace I can get away with it, I will be reading it. If not, say I am in church, I am reading the Bible instead of listening.
So, next time you call someone a geek, just make sure you have your terminology correct. Do not insult a nerd by calling them a geek, and vice versa. (For a GREAT video representation of this, go to YouTube and look up Rhett & Link Epic Rap Battle: Nerd vs Geek. Awesome. I’m going to watch it again now). Call other nerds and geeks what you will, but get mine moniker correct: I’m the Queen B Geek 🙂