The Geeks and Nerds: Understanding the Difference Between Two Awesome Types of Kids
When I was about twelve or thirteen, I decided I wanted to become a writer. I can still remember sitting at my desk in my room, writing story after story by hand on loose leaf paper. My love of writing naturally came from my love of reading. Reading was a huge passion of mine, which ultimately paid off later in life. But beyond reading, I was totally into everything a pre-teen kid loved back in the early 90s: superhero TV shows, building spaceships out of Legos, anime cartoons, video games, Star Trek, and everything else science related.
In my junior year in high school, I had a massive epiphany: I was a nerd. I was the stereotypical nerd you’d see in pretty much every single TV show from the 90s, minus the glasses and the squeaky voice. I was a card holding nerd. And while it may have sucked a bit to not be into the same things as everyone else, I wasn’t picked on or bullied to the extent you see in TV shows. In fact, sometimes it was cool to be the smart guy in class.
The only people I considered geeks in high school were the band kids. But even though I made that distinction, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I discovered there was a difference between nerds and geeks.
Now, thanks to a ton of cultural changes since I was in high school, being a geek or a nerd is awesome! Many of the kids of my generation who were labeled nerds and geeks have gone on to be millionaires and billionaires, essentially destroying all the negative stereotypes that have perpetuated with those terms for decades.
But what is the difference between geeks and nerds. How do you know if you’ve got a geeky or a nerdy child? And if they fit either or, is it something you should encourage as a parent? As a nerd, the answer is: Yes!
What is a Nerd?
A nerd is someone who loves learning, like yours truly. The word that best describes a nerd is cerebral. Nerds are interested in a ton of different subjects and cultures, some more than others. Nerds are the kids or teens who are well rounded in different subjects in school such as math, English, history, chemistry, drama, yearbook, etc.
Some nerds can be a bit introverted as they would much rather be wrapped up in something they’re interested in more than talking to other people. And then there are nerds who are people-persons who can strike up a conversation with just about anyone and are able to hold their own in a conversation. They’re often seen as the most interesting people at parties because they simply know so much about so many different things.
More often than not, nerds can be awkward in social situations. It shouldn’t surprise you if you have a super smart kid who isn’t the best at being a social butterfly simply because they spend more time learning and being interested in knowledge more than people. Nerds often hang out with other nerds because anyone else might not be able to keep up with all of the random information constantly thrown at them on a daily basis.
As a nerd, I bucked the trend a bit because I was very social. I had a good number of friends, but I wasn’t a social butterfly. I didn’t go to football games or parties. I kept to myself mostly because I wanted to, but I definitely didn’t have trouble making friends who weren’t nerds.
What is a Geek?
Geeks are what happen when a nerd decides they only want to be interested in one thing really well. Band geeks, movie buffs, music buffs, glee club geeks, programmers, photographers, artists, and the list goes on and on. The only rule about being a nerd is being incredibly interested in one subject or culture.
Personally, geeks are way more fun than nerds. Nerds are great if you want to have a conversation about anything and everything. But geeks know how to have a good time.
Once you’ve found out what a geek is interested in, most people find it difficult to keep them from talking about much else. They’ll jabber on and on about everything they know, everything they want to know, and everything they can’t wait to see or do.
Comic book and video game conventions are massive hubs for geeks. These are usually the people you see dressed up as characters from tv shows, comic books, or video games, also known as cosplayers.
Geeks are pretty social with most people, but are more social with people who are interested in the same geeky things. What’s interesting about geeks is that there are people who don’t realize they are geeks, even if not a major geek. Because most people have an interest they’re passionate about, you could consider them geeks.
Understanding Geeks and Nerds
Nerds and geeks are special people who, with a little nurturing, become awesome people. I remember those kids in school who felt isolated and alone because they felt like they just don’t fit in with the crowd. And honestly, there were some days when I wished I could fit in with the crowd that loved all the “normal” things.
But as a parent, that’s where you come in, especially if you were a geek or nerd yourself back in school. When you’re a kid, you think you’re the only person like you in the world and no one will ever understand you. You hope for that one best friend who will come along who will like and love everything you like. Sometimes, we make great friends who fit all of that, and sometimes we get friends who appreciate us for who we are even if they don’t completely like everything we do.
Young geeks and nerds need that push of encouragement from mom and dad to just be who they are. They need to know it’s definitely okay to be a little weird and to stand out in the crowd. Not everyone is cut out to be a jock or the life of the party. But it’s always fun to be that interesting person everyone knows. The guy or girl who knows a little about everything, even if they’re a little shy at first.
When you’re young, the world is only as big as your home, school, and wherever you like to hang out. And when it’s that small and there are only so many people in it, it’s hard to think there is anyone out there who will like you. But geeks and nerds always seem to find each other in the end and realize they’re not alone and that it’s okay to be different.
So, support your nerdy and geeky kids by putting them in places where they’ll meet people just like them. Expand their world a bit by taking them to museums, concerts, conventions, or even little gatherings where they can see other people who are just as geeky or nerdy as they are. Encourage them to and be what makes them happy. Eventually, that happy geek or nerd will grow up successful and awesome and will thank you for encouraging them to be who they are despite being a little different.
Geeks and nerds are awesome. And they always will be.