It’s a Nerd World
I want to share a bit of insight into my character with my audience. I am a nerd and a geek. I have never been ashamed of such titles and the honors behind them. Some might think that it is strange to admit that you are connected to such derogatory terms. However, for the last two decades, the popular culture of our country has become the juggernaut that it is because of those people who proudly proclaim that they are nerds and geeks.
This statement of pride comes from a few things that have started to register with people. For a long time, the sub-culture of nerds and geeks was underground or something that only the hardcore members paid any attention to. It may have been a gamer environment. It could have been something in the comic book realm. It may have been movie buffs with all the trivial information collected in this crowd.
It was a low-key movement, in comparison to sports fans or political observers, but it grew from the seeds of imagination and thrived from the creative minds of people who wanted to share that spark. Rarely did the seed grow from a desire to corner a market or fit into a business plan. It was a community that needed to express itself and enjoyed the creative spark of the mind.
Personally, I find that all of this has become the foundation for the current incarnation of the entertainment world. Comic books have become popular as they are turned into movies and television shows. Video games have taken on a new life as they have entered the online communities with both computer and console versions. Even books have evolved into something beyond the paperbacks as they stepped into the market of e-books on computers and hand-held devices.
As an older member of the geek culture, I have been very proud of those that have had the confidence and intelligence to pull our underground movement from the jaws of darkness. It is their innovation that has given our world the chance to embrace more and more of the global community. It was imagination that gave our world a chance to evolve.
Here is my question. Why would a group such as nerds and geeks keep their activities low-key in a movement that only recently became accepted? Was it because comic books were just a form of entertainment for children and adults should have grown out of that phase? Do adults have a social need to grow out of these forms of entertainment? Or is it something else? Is it something that creates a social stigma for those that enjoy these activities as hobbies for adults?
I have experienced several facets of the social stigma as I was growing up. As a child growing up in the eighties, it was not acceptable to be a nerd or geek, but it was part of me. Part of my personality craved to be submerged in the forms of imagination that books, games, and movies revealed. It was this part of me that allowed my imagination to grow and embrace the techniques of art and creative writing.
Yet, in my hometown during my youth, I was labeled with the term nerd. In a community filled with a social hierarchy centered on church membership, I would have expected that they would understand how such things can hurt. I was often confused by the reactions. I spent years on the black lists of the community, but it never stopped me. I lost many friendships over the fact that I was into the nerd culture of books and gaming. Nothing crushed me more than when it became known that I was playing role playing games. Once it was revealed, I was quickly ostracized by all except my closest friends, who happen to be in my gaming group.
However, I never understood what the issue was. A few bad articles over teen suicides started to circulate and were linked to the role playing games. It did create a bit of bad press, but it never explained why so many in my hometown were down on this style of entertainment. To me, it was very similar to the art of drama or acting. The school had plays and had a drama class. These were accepted.
So, I went on a quest for years to learn and understand why it was that such games were put into the same category as drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll by the people in my hometown. My quest included asking the ministers and preachers of the individual churches about the subject. They would usually relate to me the ideas of demons, witches, spells, and dark rituals. The ideas were based around the more arcane verses of the bible with the support that easy living and debauchery were sinful life styles.
I filed all the replies away as they were, but never had the answer that was needed. All the answers had little to do with the games that allowed the players to take on an imaginary role and pretending like an actor to be part of a story. I was not personally doing the spells, becoming a witch, or enacting dark rituals. I may have taken on the role of someone who did, but I was not doing it myself. How was this different from Romeo fighting a duel and killing another man? In my mind, there was no difference, but that argument did not free me from the black lists.
Finally, I accepted the label and went on with my life. By the time I had graduated from high school at the top of my class, I was proud of my imagination. I had used it to achieve all of this before I left that town. Yet, in the back of my mind, the question was still aching to have an answer. I turned that energy toward the study of religion from a historical perspective and studied the texts including the Bible.
After years of studying, it was not until I finally asked another preacher to explain it. Of course, by then, I was into my adult years and the games had lost their stigma. The answer that I found with this man was shocking. It was not anything to do with easy living, demons, spells, or witches. It was a belief that is mentioned in the book of Matthew. The verse was Matthew chapter 5 verse 28. Depending on the version or translation, it speaks of adultery and the committing of the sin in the heart if one even thinks about adultery. I was shocked, but it made sense. I didn’t agree with the belief, but it was another example of how a verse can be pulled out and forms the basis of a doctrine.
I had my answer and the achievement was gained. I was able to put that question behind me and return to the real world. My point in this is that the evolution of a nerd into a semi-productive adult. This evolution is not just individually, but it has happened to an entire community. So, if you are a nerd, be proud of it. If you are a geek, be proud of it. You have become an integral part of society and your imagination gives this world the support like a flying buttress that it needed.