I am a geek, and it ain’t that bad

people and relationships, personal, society

Back in high school, I was a nerd.
Now I’m a geek.

There’s a big difference, at least in my humble opinion.

Nerds are:

  • Generally very socially inept
  • Usually quite unfit and also not good at sports
  • Totally lacking in interest in and/or awareness of popular culture
  • Singlehandedly focused on and often very talented in academics
  • Not very well respected outside of nerd circles nowadays

Geeks are:

  • Fascinated by technology, but often in how it connects people and organizations
  • Intellectual but not at the expense of being able to make smalltalk
  • Generally comfortable with machines AND people
  • Often fascinated by science and technology, but not necessarily ‘experts’
  • Typically engaged in popular culture, but feeling more passionate about ‘alternative’ entertainment (e.g., “They Might Be Giants,” “Monty Python,” etc.
  • Often figuring out how to tie technology in with useful and or social endeavors (e.g., using a Palm Pilot to look up a restaurant review)
  • Probably seen as “the norm” in many places, including various cities (San Francisco) and demographics (Ivy League colleges).

What are your thoughts on this?
Do you think my ad hoc definitions fit the bill?
Would you consider yourself a geek or a nerd?
Do you have friends who are geeks or nerds?
And can someone really change, as I’ve suggested that I have? 🙂

6 comments… add one
  • Crazy Kate Feb 21, 2003

    I agree with your definitions.  And I’d definitely consider myself a geek.  Always have been, just more lately than I used to be.  I can’t say I’ve ever been a nerd.  I’ve liked people interaction too much for that.  😛

    Here at WPI, I put the EE in gEEk.  😉

    -=CK=-

  • Celia B. Feb 24, 2003

    Did you know the definition of a geek is a carnival performer doing bizarre acts such as biting off the heads of live chickens? See the movie “Nightmare Alley” starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell about 1945 where circus performer is changed to half man/half monster.
    How does this fit in with your self definition?:)
    Personally I think geeks are just grownup nerds. Not a bad thing, just learned a few key social skills having to do with people instead of machines.

  • Matt Hendrickson Feb 24, 2003

    Celia- don’t you mean “FREAK?”

  • Jennifer Feb 25, 2003

    I know I’m a geek, and I’m content with that (note: computer geek, not biting-heads-off-chickens geek). I’m part of that slightly-rarer breed: the female geek.

    Ever notice there seem to be a lot of female geek bloggers? I think it’s just a good environment for us. We’ve come out of the woodwork.

    Now, has anyone seen that chicken? I know I left it here someplace… Never mind.

  • Adam Feb 25, 2003

    Yes, I HAVE noticed that there are a ton of women bloggers… seemingly more than female Webmasters (Webmistresses? :D).

    You mention that you think it’s a “good environment” for women… but why do you think this is?  Is it because bloggers can focus more on actual writing than Web page technical tinkering?  Is it because women are somehow inherently more ‘communicative’ (“My mother-in-law won’t shut up!” :-P) or perhaps particularly drawn to the collaborative and community aspects of blogging?

    I wonder what the gender ratio is like in the ‘real world’ of paper journalism.  Hmm.  I think I’ll ask one of my friends at the Washington Post (http://nonsense-verse.blogspot.com).

  • Adam Feb 25, 2003

    Oh, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention this amazing (albeit very long) article on “Why Nerds are Unpopular”—this was actually the trigger for my original post on geeks and nerds!

    http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

What do you think?