Dissecting the Modern Nerd

Me in cosplay making con goers uncomfortable at an anime con dance in CT (Probably in 'o8 or 'o9)

Fact: Nerds come in all colorful shapes and sizes. Working in a comic shop allows me to see them in all their horrifying glory. So today I’m going to put my skills to the test and box them into harsh generalizations.

*Note: The goal of this wasn’t to polarize and judge nerds (that happens with or without a “type checklist”). I love my community and just wanted to share how I see it.

First I want to clarify my definition of a nerd. I say “my” because it’s a topic with differing opinions. A “NERD” is often described as a derogatory word to define a person of high intelligence with poor social abilities. A nerd’s interests revolve primarily around obscure pop culture and/or highly technical pursuits. This is where I draw the differences between a Nerd and a Geek. Geeks are more into science and technology, while Nerds deal with science fiction and fantasy.  Not every nerd could give you a detailed analysis for why PC’s are better than Macs, and not every geek could tell you who Michael Chiklis is, let alone why he’s so awesome.

The Nerd community is very polarizing. When one has a growing populous of the socially retarded, low self esteem isn’t far behind. The only thing that has managed to bring nerds together is sheer hate. One of the more recent examples for that level of hate would have to be Twilight.  But once in a while we’ll be able to display our beautiful colors for more honorable pursuits. Like the protests at San Diego Comic Con in 2010.  As a community, we beamed with pride while images flooded the internets of Nerds banning together to confuse and disrupted the most loathed hate group in America (Westboro Baptist Church).

Our abhorrence can be just as petty but at the core of every Nerd is love… it’s just, sometimes we forget that.


  1. The Scenesters

Let’s face it, with phrases like ‘Geek Chic’ and a star studded cast for The Avengers movie, Nerd culture has become main-stream.  This is a good thing. More demand= more play things for us. Unfortunately this also means that you’re LCS will periodically be raided by small groups of twenty-something’s in Ray-bans and moccasins. Luckily they are just afraid of you as you are of them. Plus they haven’t discovered a convention without Hollywood execs. However, It’s equally bad for those of us with slightly better communications skills. Especially if you’re at a lame party and assume that the kid in the Batman shirt knows that the Joker existed before Heath Ledger.

Yeah, it’s annoying but we need to take advantage. After all, there’s a real comfort in knowing that current pop culture is literally being tailored to us. There’s a fucking John Carter movie coming out! And I got make up and underwear being made for me (I know ya’ll caught that Victoria’s Secret line)!

All fads pass in time. I am living this one up. With every herd of Scenesters, there is one with genuine interest. So snag them while you can. The more the merrier.


2. Casuals

I think this group really gets a bad rap. Yeah, yeah, Gamers- I know they fuck up your console sales stats, and it’s a little harder for you to fight that 14 year old on your forum but let’s put away the pitch forks for a second. Casuals are essential to the nerdiverse. Not only are they keeping the pool fresh, but they’re technically the reason we have a tree-house to play in. Okay, let me back up and elaborate. Without the casual, we would never be socially acceptable human beings. Casuals aren’t limited by little things like talking the way the rest of us are. They are our bridge to the rest of the world. Without them, and their gracious understanding, do you think any of The Terminator movies would have happened? Sure, they’re not as obsessive and yeah, their opinions are a little dated but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any less passionate.

Casuals have lives. We shouldn’t fault them for it. Instead we should be welcoming and supportive. Our treatment of the Casual is a reflection of us. All of us were Casuals at some point in the game.


3. Closet Cases

This group doesn’t really deserve our wrath either. I know it’s difficult to accept. After all, it wasn’t the Casual that kicked your ass in middle school, it was the Closet Case.

But think about our stereotype. Closet cases are just a symptom, there not the problem. I really feel bad for these guys. They’re so afraid of how the world will see them that it’s kind of pathetic. The unfortunate truth is that it all comes down to sex for this group. They don’t believe that nerds can get tail. So they box up their comics/collectables/magic cards/ and store them in the coldest depths of their (literal) closets as if the ladies would grow talons if they were found out. Anyway, who would even want to date somebody who thinks Akira or Thor is lame? It’s probably the same type of women who think watching porn is a form of cheating.

This type will definitely have a depressing enough future without our condemnation. I don’t get it. I probably never will.


4. The Elitists

This is another case of misplaced blame. Elitism became a dirty word in the last decade. We want our doctors to be elite. We want our scientists to be elite. Granted, nerd culture may not be as essential to society as medicine, but I want my recommendations from a professional, not just anybody.  The Elitists can tell you, exactly who, what, where, when, and why as if the internet never existed. They bask when their insights are put to the test. That makes them natural givers. Without them, our arguments would have way more invalidity and our existence would be obsolete.

Sadly, many nerd retailers hold this entitlement. That being said, not all Elitists are humanitarians; many are self serving and often hold the characteristics of a social disorder. They’ve invested a lot of time in their hobbies and need to feel a little bit more recognition than most. So they often create imaginary standards and boundaries then apply them to the rest of us. But they keep us in check. So a little hug once in a while ought to keep them grounded.


5. The Basement Dwellers

IT’S ALL THEIR FAULT! They’re the reason why we have that constant B.O. shame cloud hovering over us. They look like shit, smell like shit, and have ruined everything for the rest of us. NO ONE LIKES THEM. Even the nerds that hang out with them only do so out of pity. They are horrible people with horrible views on themselves and the world. Don’t feel bad for them! They’ve learned manipulation, it’s how they’ve been able to maintain their lifestyle (if you could call it that). It’s like they took their cue from Jabba in order to get slave Leia– even if it means dying from asphyxiation. Don’t believe me? Look at how they treat themselves; do you honestly think they are capable of treating others better? No! I’ve seen it way too many times, trust me! As a lady, these guys are quick to display their true colors.

They have no respect for themselves and even less for anyone else. They’re dirty, spoiled, and gluttonous, and they know it. They thrive on people feeling sorry for them so they take advantage and use people to get what they want. They live in their own creepy little worlds where they feel entitled to things that they don’t deserve. If you tell them so, then watch out, they have a lot of time on their hands to plot their vengeance because that’s how screwed up these guys are. It’s disturbing.


6. The Limitless: Boldly going where all Nerds cringe to see them go

Larpers, Fan-Fic writers, Light Saber stage combatants, I had to give these guys their own section. They’re the ones who take that additional step into the place the rest of us regularly try to ignore. I’ll admit, learning to fight with a light saber is pretty cool and one of my first drawings was Sailor Moon fan art, but god damn it, you guys! WTF!? I am a giant loser but 10 seconds with one of these guys and I feel compelled to start taking lunch money.

That being said, not all of the Limitless take a stroll down the road of catastrophe. In fact, some of them even utilize that absent part of their brain (the one that tells them to stop) and harness their skills to create wonderful works of nerd art. They can even create fabulous business ventures and make a living off of the nerdy little things they love.

We laugh because we understand how they got there.


7. Anime Kids

Yeah, they’re the new goth kid. Talk about polarizing, it’s like crack to these guys. Lolita, yanki, ganguro, etc: they love to replicate their favorite Japanese fashion subculture and enforce it in their daily lives… and on anyone else who might take an interest.

Personally I’m a fan of cosplay. I’m a fan of fun and anime kids love to have it. Unfortunately they’re a lot younger and more socially inept so there’s a lot of tears and miscommunication in their ranks. They idealize the shiny innocence and simplicity of the anime world so they fall easily into the japanophile trap where dreams are destined to be crushed.

With a little guidance, anime kids make great acquaintances and are always down for a good time.


8. Gamers

Some like table-top, some like MMO, some like neck beards, all love competition. I have a bit of a soft spot for gamers (and dating them). Their “fuck-you, bro” attitudes often over-shadow their more charming qualities. They are highly intelligent, resourceful, and overall fun to be around. They are also the kings of cock-blocking so, if you’re dating one, then you better pick up a controller because this crew has serious tunnel vision.

If only they could channel that determination and ambition into the real world, they would easily become our overlords.


9. The Collectors

The common misconception about this group is that it’s all about the money. Profit plays a role, but at the heart of every good collector is nostalgia. If they weren’t so OCD then they would be on and episode of Hoarders and not this list.

Their investments are what make Nerdom so appealing. Do you think a Tauntaun sleeping bag would even exist without the Collectors? So their homes look like a store, and it’s difficult to bring potential partners to the pad. Their time and meticulous effort should be respected. Besides, it’s not their bedrooms that look like a teenagers, it’s ours.


10. The Cool Kid Table

Just a small group of diverse nerds that are happy to be pals with anyone. It is with these few, that we have to thank for fueling jealousy within the Nerd community. They aren’t at all responsible for the negativity that festers there because they’re cool. That’s how they got to be at the cool kid table. They’re relaxed, confident, fun, and everything that enrages the socially inept. Your local Cool Kid Table may vary: there could be an elitist, a couple of gamers, some anime fan girls, even a casual collector (yeah, they exist). The point is that these nerds just want to enjoy their nerdom and don’t give two shits about the naysayers.

They are often confused with Scenesters or Elitists that created their own table because they were too derpy to actually be cool. Identification is simple: The Cool Kid Table just wants to have a good time. They don’t like it when nerds try to oppress other nerds. They won’t hesitate to bully a bully. The last thing you want to do with this bunch is try to impress them. They can smell insecurity and don’t want any part in your drama.  If you see a Cool Kid Table then just relax and be cool.


11. Elder Wands

This batch is my favorite, and rightfully so. They’re probably the reason you even became a nerd. He could have been an uncle, a teacher, or that sweet old guy that helped you start that vinyl collection but never managed to wear a shirt. The Elder Wand is a lone wolf and always makes this shit look good. He’s what everyone at the Cool Kid Table strives to be one day. He’ll introduce you to your new obsession and give you that magical nugget of wisdom that your pitiful life desperately needed.

I have been fortunate to have several of these guys grace my life and can testify to their power. They definitely walk to the beat of their own drum; just count your blessings if they choose to bestow their awesomeness on you.


12. Unicorns

They’re beautiful, uber nerdy, genuinely good people and they exist! You’ve seen them too! It may have been that girl you mistook for a booth babe. It could have been that boy you thought was just a girl cosplaying as a boy. It even could have been one of those super ripped Spartans. The point is unicorns are few and far in between and we keep scaring them away! They’re very attractive and very naive. You’ll most likely come across one at the Cool Kid Table, but they’re on constant surveillance like the fellowship for the one true ring. The Cool Kids recognize a Unicorns rarity and will do anything to protect them. Sometimes a basement dweller will snag one and go all Smeagol on them which always turns very ugly.

Just remember, they are human and prone to the same uncommunicative awkwardness as the rest of us. They are hyper self aware and not good with confrontation so their innocence is in constant danger. If you see one, keep a safe distance, let them approach you. If you see one getting snared by a Basement Dweller, for the love of god just do something right for once in your life, grow a pair and save them!


Now, there are tons of cross-sectioning on this list. For example, just like you can have a Casual Gamer, you could also have more complex mixing like an Elitist Anime kid that also happens to be a Closeted fan-fic writer and/or artists. Shit happens.

I, for one, wish that I was a Unicorn but I’m just a Casual paid to be at the Cool Kid Table. I may be evolving into an Elitist but I’m honestly way too lazy for that shit. I didn’t make specific sections for Sci-fi, fantasy, comic nerds, and Trekkies because they’re pretty much interwoven in all of the above (did I mention the lazy bit?). Plus, there hasn’t been a Star Trek series in forever, and if there was you can bet that all nerds would be down for that.


About A.Outlaw

Angela Outlaw is an all around shitty adult. She loves Gushers fruit snacks and burritos. But not together...because that would be weird.
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One Response to Dissecting the Modern Nerd

  1. Pingback: I’m Allergic to Ignorance; You Should Love Learning Too « Thatnerdychic

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