I recently attended a reading of “The Nerdist Way” presented by Chris Hardwick at Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland. It was a very enjoyable evening, with a couple hundred of fellow nerds, geeks and dweebs absorbing the awesomeness that is Chris. While waiting for the reading to begin, I surveyed the room. There were nerds of every physical type: older, younger, hipster, professional, black, white, Asian, male, female, you name it. I suppose there may have been a few “nerd-curious” lurkers that happened upon the reading by mistake. I wondered as I examined each of them, “what makes that person a nerd”? With some, their fashion choices made them easy to pick out in a crowd. A lot of us looked “normal”.
Normal. What does that mean in the nerd context?
There is certainly some degree of controversy as to what makes a nerd a nerd. Many of us that consider ourselves nerds may regard someone who publicly declares themself a nerd with a healthy dose of skepticism. It is, after all, de rigueur (may I use that phrase? Seems rather “hipster-y” to me) to claim nerd status these days. I am certainly one of those individuals. When someone claims nerd status, I feel like I need to see qualifications to support that claim. I admit some skepticism when Chris coined the Nerdist term. Chris’ credentials are, of course, impeccable. Aisha Tyler is another celebrity that initially had doubts about when she “outed” herself as a nerd. She is, after all, insanely hot, by any reasonable person’s standard. Again, Aisha’s credentials support her claim. When I listened to Aisha’s outstanding “Girl on Guy” podcast with Chris, I couldn’t help but wonder if their coupling could only produce the perfect proto-nerd; “Nerd Prime”, if you will.
Turn the perspective the other way now. Others in the audience might look at me and wonder: “what’s that old dude doing here”? I was probably out in the third standard deviation of the bell curve in terms of age. I was dressed semi-nicely; button down shirt, nice slacks and a dressy leather jacket (not how I always dress, by any stretch of the imagination, though). Hence my thoughts on a “Nerd Résumé”.
Creating said Nerd Résumé certainly requires a high degree of introspection. In my younger years, being a nerd didn’t carry the same “glamor” it now does. I strove (unsuccessfully) to divest myself of the nerd “stigma”. Today, I embrace it, as many do.
So- let’s lay it out, line by line. What is John’s NerdCred©?
- I was lousy at sports as a kid. I still am. I participated. I was not good. I was on the JV basketball team in junior high. I scored exactly 2 points the entire season, and I played almost every game. I was on the track team my senior year in high school. I didn’t set any records ther either. Having said that, if I had started track in junior high, I’ll bet I could have achieved some proficiency. My father was an excellent athlete in his younger days, but I inherited none of his skill.
- I enjoy comic books. I enjoy in moderation, though. The strength of my conviction in comics is not strong enough to claim nerd-dom in itself, but I still like comics as an adult. In a semi-related note. We made a tidy sum of money by investing in Marvel stock back in 2003. Disney’s buyout of Marvel was very good to us.
- I was the vice-president of the Latin club in high school. This is a cornerstone of my NerdCred©. I do not remember much of it now, as my vocation has not required much use.
- I was the Student Body Secretary in high school. This was an appointed position, so I didn’t have to win any “popularity contests”. It was basically a bookkeeping position (accounting NerdCred©)
- I hold 4 Microsoft certifications. I am a Microsoft Certified Professional, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician and a Microsoft Certified IT Professional. I got my first certification in 1998. Another NerdCred© cornerstone.
- I do IT support for a living. I do it because I’m very good at it. I do it because I love technology. I’ve been making a career of IT for almost 25 years. I still hand build my home PCs.
- I love video games. I played games on my TRS-80 back in 1979. I have owned a ColecoVision, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 1 & 2, and Xbox. I now own 3 Xbox 360s (2 with Kinect). In the past few years I have stayed pretty close to the first person shooter category, but like all kinds of genres. I have attended the midnight launch of the last 2 midnight launches for the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series. I used vacation days on the launch day so I could stay home and play. Another NerdCred© cornerstone.
- I love gadgets. I had a Zune for a while. I had an iPhone for a couple of years, even though I am staunchly anti-Apple. I know have a Windows 7 Phone that I love (even though I have still not received the Mango update which I am quite peeved about thank you very much).
- I have an offbeat sense of humor. Most of my friends think I am least semi-funny. I’m not a stand-up comedian type of guy, nor do I want to be. I am pretty quick with a witty (in my estimation) remark or a snarky comment.
- I’m nice. I am courteous and polite. I respect other people’s beliefs. People generally like me. I don’t know that necessarily is NerdCred©, but I think it should be. I try to live by Wil Wheaton’s motto: “Don’t be a dick”.
- I am not particularly “fashion-forward”. I can dress nicely, but I generally dress like someone half my age. I don’t have to dress nicely for my job, so a lot of the time I wear jeans and a T-shirt. Usually the T-shirt has some kind of nerdy reference (Star Wars/Star Trek/Video game).
There are a few things that may detract from my NerdCred©. I’ll list a few of those:
- I’m not a huge fan of Doctor Who. There. I said it. I started to get into it during the Eccleston/Tennant years, but I just do not care for Matt Smith. He just doesn’t have the charm of previous Doctors.
- I absolutely hate Torchwood. I started watching it, thinking it looked promising. John Barrowman really just makes that show unwatchable to me.
- It’s OK to be a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars. Geez, people, no need to be so polar. I also liked Star Trek: Enterprise. A lot. It’s OK to like all the Star Trek series and I do.
- I forgive George Lucas for fucking up Star Wars. It’s his baby; he can do what he wants. I don’t like it, but I’ve gotten over it.
I invite your comments. Call me out on my credentials. Add your own.