Sunday, February 22, 2015

# fear # geek

The Trouble With Being a Nerd

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The other day, I was approached about writing for a site that considers themselves to be a nerd blog. Now, I  confess that I've read all of one post on their site, but my immediate reaction was that I don't think I'd have anything to possibly contribute. I know that one of the two contributors writes about comics/games and I have no idea what the owner writes about. It bothered me though that I was so quick to reply with, "I have nothing to offer."  It bothered me more than the fact that the owner immediately responded with something along the lines of me not being a fit, after all.

Why was I so quick to jump to that answer?  Is it because I really believe that I have nothing to offer to a nerd blog? Is it because I run a geek site of my own and I rarely write for it so it'd almost feel traitorous for me to start writing someplace else? Or is it because it's really hard to be a nerd within the nerd kingdom sometimes?

The term nerd these days encompasses just as much as the term geek.  It used to be that these were very separate terms with different definitions. To some, they still are. For the most part though, I hear them interchanged without anyone blinking.  The problem is that they encompass so much. It's become overwhelming. The idea of picking just one subject to write about is like asking a person to reach down into a pile of gemstones and pull out the one tiny chip of a diamond that's in there, but you can't look as you reach. It's a blind pull.

So, when I was asked, my brain panicked and tried frantically to sift through any and all of my interests to find the one thing that would make my writing worth writing.  A panicky brain is not a good brain. I blanked. If asked the same question right now, I would have the same answer. I don't know. There are too many options and so many that I don't feel like any sort of expert in.
This leads me to the other problem when being asked to write for a site like this, nerd panic. This is a very really thing, folks. It's that feeling you get deep inside when someone asks about your fandom. It's that series of thoughts that go buzzing through your head:  "What if they don't like my fandom? What if I don't do a good job of representing it? Will all the nerds/geeks hate me?"

I would love to say that even a geek/nerd as secure as myself and who stands up every single day for the individual and that your fandom is not my fandom and my fandom is not your fandom, but no fandom is better than another, is immune to this, but I'm just not.  It can be hard to be a nerd in today's kingdom of nerdom. There are so many things to be a fan of and each and every one of these has a handful of ultra-nerds that know every single detail about whatever it is. Those are the ones who scare us; the ones who not only know everything, but will be the first in line to tell you that you're wrong.  The last thing any of us want to hear is that we're not really a geek or a nerd or a part of the community.

After all, humans are meant to be a part of things. We're meant to seek out those like us and to join with them. To be told that we can't be a part of that is not only humiliating, but on some levels, it's also painful. It's as if a piece of your identity is being ripped away and depending who you are, that can be a tiny piece or it can be a huge part of who you feel that you are. There are some of us who live very solitary lives and when we connect with a group of people and we feel as if we're a part of something, it is a very big deal.  We've finally found a place where we fit in. Knowing that there are those who could rip that away from us is very scary. It's why people won't speak up about their fandoms or they keep them secret. Yes, there are closet bronies, browncoats and whovians. They exist and they exist because these shows represent a piece of their own personality and there is a fear that if they speak up about them, someone may judge that piece of them. Sometimes, it's more than a show, a comic, a movie; it's a piece of us on paper or screen.


So, why didn't I jump at the chance to do something that I love (writing)? It's probably a blend of all of the reasons, but the biggest one? A fear that my fandom, my geek girlness would come under attack and it's easier to accept that someone doesn't see you as one at all than to have them see a piece of your very self and have them rip that apart. Remember folks, that just because someone may not know what color the blade of grass was on some far off planet on some far off date doesn't mean that they don't heavily relate to some character who is standing on that same blade of grass and because they relate, it's like watching themselves. Each of us is entitled to not only our own fandoms, but our own level of fandom.  Next time someone asks me to write, I'm hoping that I remember this and I step out, even if I'm afraid, and I write some kick ass piece for a site that celebrates that very premise. 

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2 comments:

Crystal said...

I think, another factor of this is that fandom is very personal, and writing or talking about your OWN brand of fandom of any given thing you are a nerd fan of, lets someone into a bit of your inner sanctum. You know I'm an avid fan of Artoo. I like him, however I'm not a Star Wars fan extraordinaire. Similarly, I love me some Eeyore, but I've certainly not got an encyclopedic knowledge of The Hundred Acre Wood. And I think unicorns are beautiful but I've not even began to try to know all the things about them or any other fantasy based world. My fandom is very specific for these things, it is not broad and even within the confines of what I like about it, there are things I am not driven to constantly find out and know. Writing posts about what I DO know about my fandom opens me up for criticism from others about what I don't know, and while it's not a competition, it doesn't make you feel very good to seem like you only half ass like something. Nerd fandom is extremely competitive and confrontational in a lot of cases. Just watch any scene of Big Bang Theory when they are in Stuart's comic book store. I wish this were exaggerated behavior of comic book geeks. They do in fact argue about situations and ideas that have never happened. And it's almost expected because one of the hallmarks of being a nerd is that one is very smart and smart people can support his/her argument about their suppositions and assumptions with quotes and issue and page numbers. Except some of us, don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of what comics we do read, we just sort of get the gist of characters and figure we know them well and what they may or may not do. So it makes it that much more difficult for me to discuss what I think Nightcrawler might do in a situation where he has a moral quandary. Because he is my favorite X-man, but I don't know everything about him, I just know that I really like what I've discovered about him thus far, between some comics, the movies, and some discussions with other fans. I don't love to write, but I don't think even if I did, that I would always enjoy writing about subject material that was so close to my inner sanctum. It's too intimidating to put something I consider intimate to myself and a small group of people out in a public manner.

Rhian Williams said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who suffers from nerd panic.

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