12 Formative Nerd Moments

By John R. Smith
Guest Blogger

A geek’s world is a deep and multi-faceted one. There are so many ways in which a true geek expresses his or her nerdiness, but what about the developing stages in a young geek’s life? Every one of us had to start somewhere. As children, an activity’s nerdiness isn’t typically thought about or even recognized as such — the only thing that exists is being a kid, having fun, and the confusing sting or pride of being rejected or accepted by one’s peers. As the geek begins to grow up, realizations begin to sink in about how geeky the creature is becoming — regardless of whether it’s about well thought out choices or purely reflexive actions. Here are 12 formative moments every young geek experiences or is at least painfully familiar with.

Watching Star Wars or Other Favorite Nerd Movie

Probably one of the earliest formative moments in the geek’s life is being exposed to a cinematic masterpiece. This single film may go on to become one of his or her main obsessions for years, possibly decades, to come. It doesn’t matter if the movie is Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, or any other equally nerdy film — the effect it will have on a developing young geek is endemic and life-changing. The geek becomes obsessed with whatever movie he or she fancies most, latching onto the film in any way possible. They will become interested in all things related to that movie: forums in which the geek can argue over trivia, read his favorite fan-fiction, and show off homemade stop-action lego reenactments of the film itself.

Canceling a Date in Favor of Something Nerdy

 
There comes a moment in many nerds’ lives where the frightening opportunity of scoring a date with a girl (or conversely a guy) is presented. Many geeks rarely get this opportunity in their teens, but for those lucky enough to happen upon a like-minded nerd or unsuspecting normal person, they know how scary the world of dating can be. However, despite the temptations of romance and sexy time, there are sometimes more important matters at hand. The geek in his natural habitat knows but one thing above all else: geekiness. Sometimes, when the really cute girl from English class accepts your awkward offer to go out for pizza at the local strip mall, she picks the most inconvenient day in your otherwise empty schedule. The night of QuakeCon coverage or your daily Tuesday WoW guild raid must receive undivided attention, no matter how nice the prospect of being on your first date may seem.

Facing Discrimination Due to Nerd-dom

Another epiphany-inducing and rather revelation worthy moment is both confusing and emotional. The geek, semi-used to being taunted and laughed at for their social shortcomings, starts becoming accustomed to receiving “special” treatment for his or her differences. However, nothing can prepare the geek for the sheer humiliation and indignity that follows (usually long after the moment has passed and any opportunity to address the offender has long gone) like being blatantly discriminated against for his or her geeky ways. 23 year old Daniel Jones had one of these moments after he was thrown out of a local grocery store for refusing to remove the hood on his Jedi costume. But Jones had a great reason for his refusal: he claimed to be the leader of the Jedi church.

Becoming More Successful Than the Bully

Many geeks are, quite literally, tortured souls. They face ridicule and laughter from more “popular” peers, are the brunt of countless anti-nerd jokes and are often looked at rather strangely when bursting out with an anecdote or fact a little too intelligent for everyone else’s tastes. But every geek has his day; a sweet triumph is the moment the geek realizes he or she has become more successful than the jocks or popular kids who were the bane of their existence in grade school, high school, or both. A computer programmer opening the door to his sweet loft apartment, afforded with a hefty salary, only to realize that the pizza delivery guy is your old high school bully is a priceless moment of victory.

Preferring Video Game Characters to Real People

Having a best friend is pretty important to most people; discovering a somewhat similar person with whom to share all of your hopes and dreams, admit embarrassing stories to, discuss secret crushes and hatch plans to take over the world is what everyone dreams of.

The world of nerddom can be a lonely place and nerds can feel like there isn’t a soul in the entire world who can relate to them and their peculiar, nerdy ideals. It’s always a thrill when the nerd discovers a creature of the same species — someone to participate in embarrassingly nerdy activities with without being, well, so embarrassed. But sometimes, that BFF is a pixelated anime character trapped inside the screen of a Nintendo DS, or a favored Dragon Ball Z character who just relates to you so much better than anyone in real life ever could.

Trying to Explain Geek Code to Non-Geeks

Trying to explain geek code, geeky trivia, or the reasoning behind geeky conventions like LARPing can be a rather intense moment of sheer isolation no matter how many people are present at the time. There are a few different steps leading up to the final moment of temporary ostracization. First is the mental debate over whether or not to attempt explaining the damn thing in the first place. “Should I just let it go?” the geek wonders, with a lingering feeling that the others just don’t — and wont — “get” it. Secondly, that feeling is washed over either by the compelling need to spread his or her nerdy knowledge, or the nagging questions of peers who can’t wait to know what the hell kind of animal a LARP is. Thirdly, the geek decides to brave forth with his explanation of MMORPGs or ‘guild raids’, ignoring the initial feeling of resistance which still tugs lightly at the back of his or her mind. The last and most important chapter of this fleeting moment is when the geek’s dialogue, although eloquently and carefully spoken, is met by blank stares and transparent chuckles. This moment, where the geek is surrounded by peers who are slightly confused, slightly interested out of novelty alone, is a scorching but important one.

Preferring Virtual Reality Over Real Life

So the geek is sitting around his den when he decides that the perils of school on a Tuesday would pale in comparison to pretty much anything else. Wandering around the city, the geek finds an arcade. Inside, the truth of life is discovered; a Pac Man or Donkey Kong game for a couple of quarters. No acid needs to be ingested for the geek to have a startling revelation about both the importance of these games and the way in which they represent real life in certain ways. The realization that there are ways to escape your homework, peers, and other emotionally traumatizing experiences is an amazing one. We would take Mario’s problems over getting beat up by bullies any day.

Physically Fighting Over a Nerdy Game

People have literally killed friends over fake WoW money or stabbed dad for taking away the Xbox, but we’re talking about something a little less extreme. Geeky games can get pretty serious, and heated debates are known to arise between two disagreeing geeks during important tournaments. It could be after a couple of beers, but it’s more likely to happen while completely sober. If you’ve ever been in a fight because your friend is arguing that your Dungeons and Dragons character doesn’t have enough gold to buy a platinum shield, you know what I mean. Two nerds fighting over a game of Magic is a sight for sore eyes, and while all the geek’s friends are watching in amusement, the pair are participating in a life defining moment.

Crying After Getting PK’d

The online world of multi-player gaming can be a rough one! Getting killed by jerks of a higher level is always going to happen. We know the strategies perfectly well — leveling up is done mostly in an attempt to kill off other nerds like yourself. Although the reason for getting killed could have been simply for being a whiny noob, bullies exist even in the geek world. In fact, plenty of them enjoy participating in the lamented PKing for the sheer joy of upsetting others. Regardless of the “why”, the aftermath of getting killed off can be a raging one. When the nerd smashes off the legs of his chair or begins violently sobbing after his level 40 character whom he has farmed for hours a day over the course of a year has been cruelly slaughtered, does he stop to dwell upon the geekiness of it all?

Online Girlfriend or Boyfriend

A lonely geek can find that the internet, with its screen and lack of physical interaction, is more comfortable and easy when it comes to conversing with others. A geek hidden behind a screen can become anyone, and reading text can portray a person much differently than who they would really be face-to-face. Finding an online boyfriend or girlfriend is another step into the abyss that consumes every nerd’s life. The geek might rush home from school to spend hours on his or her favorite text-based MMORPG, chatting away to the mage Aenius while they hunt the forest for XP on a cute date. Online romances are one thing, but when you meet these people while playing video games or talking about obscure movies nobody has ever seen, it enters into the world of true nerdiness. If you’ve ever spent a weekend in just to play video games with your online girlfriend or boyfriend, then you may have a situation on your hands.

Accidentally Using Internet Lingo in Real Life

Saying things like “brb” and “lol” are perfectly normal (although kind of annoying) to say online, but dropping the “brb” bomb in person is totally embarrassing. Especially when it’s an accident, there is a frozen moment of “Did I really just do that?” after the first time uttering “haxored!” or “lol” to a friend. The nerd just need to embrace the fact that he or she has just made an ass of themselves and continue on like nothing happened, but everyone will still be thinking about it.

Invitation to a High Ranking Clan

If you’ve ever played Counter-Strike or World of Warcraft, you’ll know that there are top teams of highly skilled players running around and wrecking stuff for everyone else by being so skilled at the game they’re playing. The young nerd sees them, and is in awe of them. The day he’s invited to join a high ranking clan is a life changing one. He’ll be scheduled into dedicated and weekly, bi-weekly, or even tri-weekly practices. It will kill most of his social life, if he had any to begin with.





24 Responses to 12 Formative Nerd Moments

  1. Instead of skipping out on a date, as you get older, you look forward to the weeks that your kids go out of town to spend with their grandparents so that you won't feel guilty about spending too much time playing video games.

    Sometimes I feel guilty about that too.

  2. Instead of skipping out on a date, as you get older, you look forward to the weeks that your kids go out of town to spend with their grandparents so that you won’t feel guilty about spending too much time playing video games.

    Sometimes I feel guilty about that too.

  3. "Two nerds fighting over a game of Magic is a sight for sore eyes, and while all the geek’s friends are watching in amusement, the pair are participating in a life defining moment."

    That was almost a daily occurrence for me this last school year. Which I sometimes participated in. I miss it.

  4. “Two nerds fighting over a game of Magic is a sight for sore eyes, and while all the geek’s friends are watching in amusement, the pair are participating in a life defining moment.”

    That was almost a daily occurrence for me this last school year. Which I sometimes participated in. I miss it.

  5. Technically… Star Trek is a television series not a movie even though they have many movies.

    The point stands though.

  6. Technically… Star Trek is a television series not a movie even though they have many movies.
    The point stands though.

  7. Technically… Star Trek is a television series not a movie even though they have many movies.
    The point stands though.

  8. Am I the only person who found this article a little insulting?

    I'm a huge nerd, but I've never been afraid to admit it. I have plenty of friends, I've had plenty of dates, and I've never chosen a video game/convention/whatever over being with a person I really care about or going on a date.

    Sure, there may be some people who fit this list completely, but to imply that most people who are nerds do gives the term "nerd" a worse connotation than it already has. I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say that Mr. Smith (author of this article) is not, in fact, a nerd himself.

  9. Am I the only person who found this article a little insulting?

    I’m a huge nerd, but I’ve never been afraid to admit it. I have plenty of friends, I’ve had plenty of dates, and I’ve never chosen a video game/convention/whatever over being with a person I really care about or going on a date.

    Sure, there may be some people who fit this list completely, but to imply that most people who are nerds do gives the term “nerd” a worse connotation than it already has. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that Mr. Smith (author of this article) is not, in fact, a nerd himself.

  10. Why would anyone want a platinum shield in D&D? Platinum is a pretty soft, and quite heavy, metal and would not protect much against most weapons. No D&D character of mine would consider a platinum shield unless it had considerable magical properties, or as a nice decoration for his keep after retirement.

    Yes, I am a nerd.

  11. Why would anyone want a platinum shield in D&D? Platinum is a pretty soft, and quite heavy, metal and would not protect much against most weapons. No D&D character of mine would consider a platinum shield unless it had considerable magical properties, or as a nice decoration for his keep after retirement.

    Yes, I am a nerd.

  12. The Day of the Nerd is at hand. Persecute them at your peril, for they probably have admin access to every shred of your personal information. Look at the formative events above and ask yourself "do the nerds and geeks like me?". If the answer is no, prepare to have every possible computer-related thing go mysteriously wrong, and pray that geek is more ethical than you are.

  13. The Day of the Nerd is at hand. Persecute them at your peril, for they probably have admin access to every shred of your personal information. Look at the formative events above and ask yourself “do the nerds and geeks like me?”. If the answer is no, prepare to have every possible computer-related thing go mysteriously wrong, and pray that geek is more ethical than you are.

  14. Omg this was great! I go to an animation school and see the game fighters all the time, There’s this new kid that just started there about 6 months ago and he’ll throw a 3 year old tantrum over a Yo-Gi-Oh card battle!

    But most of these I can relate to. I’ve cosplayed in malls, Gone to Resident Evil LARPS dremed of that game character or two lol,and givin up on talking to almost anyone not in animation or gaming. I met my husband at a anime con and our son’s name is Odin <3.

    Theonly thing that I didnt fit was the lack of a life, i was pretty lucky and foud a school that was pretty nerdy. hell myhighschool had a 3D modeling class <3. I was the odd Jok nerd and proud of it.

  15. Omg this was great! I go to an animation school and see the game fighters all the time, There’s this new kid that just started there about 6 months ago and he’ll throw a 3 year old tantrum over a Yo-Gi-Oh card battle!

    But most of these I can relate to. I’ve cosplayed in malls, Gone to Resident Evil LARPS dremed of that game character or two lol,and givin up on talking to almost anyone not in animation or gaming. I met my husband at a anime con and our son’s name is Odin <3.

    Theonly thing that I didnt fit was the lack of a life, i was pretty lucky and foud a school that was pretty nerdy. hell myhighschool had a 3D modeling class <3. I was the odd Jok nerd and proud of it.

  16. Omg this was great! I go to an animation school and see the game fighters all the time, There’s this new kid that just started there about 6 months ago and he’ll throw a 3 year old tantrum over a Yo-Gi-Oh card battle!

    But most of these I can relate to. I’ve cosplayed in malls, Gone to Resident Evil LARPS dremed of that game character or two lol,and givin up on talking to almost anyone not in animation or gaming. I met my husband at a anime con and our son’s name is Odin <3.

    Theonly thing that I didnt fit was the lack of a life, i was pretty lucky and foud a school that was pretty nerdy. hell myhighschool had a 3D modeling class <3. I was the odd Jok nerd and proud of it.

  17. Omg this was great! I go to an animation school and see the game fighters all the time, There’s this new kid that just started there about 6 months ago and he’ll throw a 3 year old tantrum over a Yo-Gi-Oh card battle!

    But most of these I can relate to. I’ve cosplayed in malls, Gone to Resident Evil LARPS dremed of that game character or two lol,and givin up on talking to almost anyone not in animation or gaming. I met my husband at a anime con and our son’s name is Odin <3.

    Theonly thing that I didnt fit was the lack of a life, i was pretty lucky and foud a school that was pretty nerdy. hell myhighschool had a 3D modeling class <3. I was the odd Jok nerd and proud of it.

  18. Omg this was great! I go to an animation school and see the game fighters all the time, There's this new kid that just started there about 6 months ago and he'll throw a 3 year old tantrum over a Yo-Gi-Oh card battle!

    But most of these I can relate to. I've cosplayed in malls, Gone to Resident Evil LARPS dremed of that game character or two lol,and givin up on talking to almost anyone not in animation or gaming. I met my husband at a anime con and our son's name is Odin <3.

    Theonly thing that I didnt fit was the lack of a life, i was pretty lucky and foud a school that was pretty nerdy. hell myhighschool had a 3D modeling class <3. I was the odd Jok nerd and proud of it.

  19. ->Purposefully using internet lingo in real life to make a point.

    Note that this is not using internet lingo in real life just as a substitute for actual words, because a real nerd would insist on using accurate terminology to describe their experience rather than the shorthand.

    But, for example, if you want to accurately describe the use of a cell phone to someone (less than idea example), you would have to describe to them the various text shorthands and give examples of those shorthands. Or, alternatively, if you’re trying to compare trolls to white knights, you would make the comparsion that a troll would use the expression “lol1!!” on purpose, while the white knight would defend the troll’s right to be a “newb”. And you might even then explain to the person what a “newb” is, and maybe even how it differentiates from a n00b *generally, a newb is less annoying than a n00b, but that’s only the case in circles where the distinction is made*.

    You know what? Let’s just say “describing internet lingo” in general and move on from here. ;p

  20. ->Purposefully using internet lingo in real life to make a point.

    Note that this is not using internet lingo in real life just as a substitute for actual words, because a real nerd would insist on using accurate terminology to describe their experience rather than the shorthand.

    But, for example, if you want to accurately describe the use of a cell phone to someone (less than idea example), you would have to describe to them the various text shorthands and give examples of those shorthands. Or, alternatively, if you're trying to compare trolls to white knights, you would make the comparsion that a troll would use the expression "lol1!!" on purpose, while the white knight would defend the troll's right to be a "newb". And you might even then explain to the person what a "newb" is, and maybe even how it differentiates from a n00b *generally, a newb is less annoying than a n00b, but that's only the case in circles where the distinction is made*.

    You know what? Let's just say "describing internet lingo" in general and move on from here. ;p