“Jocks only think about sports…

…nerds only think about sex.” – Louis Skolnick

For years, I have been trying to whittle down the definition and differences between a Nerd and a Geek. It’s taken countless hours of submersion in both cultures; including brief stints of both social abandonment and societal mastery to finally arrive at this hypothesis.

My findings:

Geeks are people who do dorky things (read: math, science, computers, comics, sci-fi) and don’t care what other people say. Geeks have reclaimed their dorkiness and are OK with it.

Nerds are people who do dorky things (read: math, science, computers, comics, sci-fi) but don’t know that other people are looking down on them. Nerds will talk to you about their hobbies assuming that you know what they’re talking about.

This is why I feel the characters of Revenge of the Nerds, were closer to geeks than nerds. They may have started out as nerds, but through their independent character arcs, became geeks. Admittedly, the term was very loosely defined in the early 80’s. The character of Booger, by almost all accounts, would not be considered a nerd today. “Nerd” in that movie was meant more to mean “outcast”. “Geek” was not in widespread use at the time, only being coined a few years earlier.

My interest in this distinction stems from my own grapples with self-identity. I’ve always had a decent handle on the nuances of group dynamics, even if I can be awkward more often than I’m comfortable with. But my interest in dorky things at home (read: math, science, computers, comics, sci-fi) lead to a “dork” gap in my mind. Could I possibly be the nerd that I had so feared? Is that so bad? Nerds are just a little… impassioned right?

Today, it is far more accepted to be a geek than a nerd. And that’s where I feel I fit in. I’m a geek. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a nerd. To quote RotN again, “No-one’s gonna really be free until nerd persecution ends.”

Two weeks ago I found the Venn Diagram below that helps support my hypothesis. It even goes so far as to throw “dweeb” and “dork” in there. Dweeb is a rather antiquated term in my opinion, but the author of this diagram felt it was different enough to include.


One Comment

  1. Brian Hurrel October 14, 2009

    Thanks for the clarification. I seem to be a Geek with a few Nerdish tendencies.

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