The age of the nerd is upon us!
Everywhere we look in real life and in online culture, the nerd is being championed like never before.
Formerly anorak-only fantasy fiction is now one of the world’s most popular genres thanks to Game of Thrones and it feels like every other film made nowadays is based on a comic book.
So, hurrah for nerd culture you say. But all isn’t rosy. The very fabric of what makes nerds nerds is being torn apart as everyone is now claiming cool nerdiness – it’s cultural appropriation gone mad!
Here’s how to tell if you’re an actual nerd and not just a fan of the new Star Wars…
You Read Fantasy Fiction Before Lord Of The Rings Came Out On Film
It’s now perfectly acceptable to admit socially that you’ve read The Lord of the Rings or any fantasy fiction thanks to its ubiquity as Game of Thrones continues to conquer the world.
But, not that long ago, readers of obscure fantasy fiction had to hide in plain sight, never admitting their child-like fondness for swords and sorcery. On the bus they were forced to switch out the dust cover for The Wheel of Time with Gary Lineker’s autobiography, lest they got weird looks on the bus.
Now, however, one imagines readers of embarrassing celebrity tell-all fiction are busy hiding their fascination with Jodie Marsh’s sexual exploits by wrapping her ‘book’ in a Harry Potter dustcover.
Oh, how the tables have turned…
You Actually Need The Glasses That You’re Wearing
One of the first social groups to jump on the cool nerd bandwagon was, of course, the urban magpies known as hipsters.
They took the style aspects of being a nerd – glasses, suspenders, weird facial hair – and rebranded it as ‘geek chic’, even though 99 per cent of them don’t actually need glasses or suspenders, and cultivate their facial hair with such dedication to give it that tousled ‘I’m too busy thinking to shave’ aura.
Nerds who actually need glasses aren’t that concerned with looking like Clark Kent – they’re concerned with the mere act of seeing.
Glasses aren’t a fashion statement, they’re a necessity, particularly when you look like you’ve crafted them yourself out of squirrel bone, spit and sellotape, just so you can read by lamplight under the bed covers late at night.
You Develop Back Spasms From Playing Videogames Too Much
Just because you play the odd game of FIFA against your mates does not give you licence to identify as a gamer nerd.
Unless you’ve earned your stripes completing Metal Gear Solid’s different endings so you can play with the stealth suit or queued up for days for the latest edition of the Fallout series, then you’ll always be a semi-pro Player 2.
You won’t get to the nerd gamer level until you start wearing t-shirts emblazoned with obscure Japanese PS2 titles and play real-life Dungeons & Dragons at least once a week.
You’re Comfortable Using The Phrase ‘World Building’
Whether talking about a game, a movie, book or TV show, an indicator of nerd credentials rests on using the phrase ‘world building’ to denote how effectively that media has created its own standalone fantasy world.
If you want to spot a charlatan claiming nerdiness simply ask them about the world building in Marvel’s latest series of films and see how they respond.
If anywhere in their reply, they use the term ‘the greater Marvel universe,’ then you’ll know they’re legit.
You Never Actually Describe Yourself As A ‘Nerd’
Anyone who positively describes themselves as a nerd is immediately disqualified from claiming any nerd credentials.
I came across a lifestyle blog the other day, in which the writer described himself as ‘a food and exercise NERD’ and my soul shuddered.
A nerd for food and exercise is basically a PE teacher – one who uses all caps.