Jan 252006
Authors: Johnathon Kastner

It's not easy being Geek. In the great social ranking that was the high school cafeteria, nerds were the outcasts who were stuck at the undesirable table next to the stank-waft from the reheated meatloaf.

Things got easier in the computer surge of the late '90s when nerds were needed to fix new problems such as the hundreds of viruses and spyware applications created by nerds.

While technically useful, Nerds can be 'socially differently-abled,' in the same way that a thousand-foot fall is a 'vertical realignment.' I'm here to help push the nerds out the window of change, through the cleansing air of enlightenment and splat on the cold hard ground of a terrible metaphor.

Like Jane Goodall, I've spent time with nerds, taking notes on their behavior, studying their habits, playing Dungeons and Dragons every weekend for the past three years. It was all part of the study. I'm not a nerd. You shut up.

Nerd social order is based on quoting. Memorizing the script to at least one Monty Python movie is a quick way to feel glowing admiration from the nerd community. This can be entertaining if properly timed, but it can also be overdone.

Nerd: "We are the Jedi Knights who say NI!"

Crowd: Appreciative laughter.

Nerd: "We are the Storm Troopers who say NI!"

Crowd: Mixed giggles, eye rolls.

Nerd: "We are the lightsabers who say… Ow! No! Aaargh…"

Crowd: Cleans forks, continues eating calmly.

This leads nicely to a second bit of Nerd culture – Crossovers that Should Not Be. Which of two fictional characters is stronger? Superman versus Batman? Harry Potter versus Agent Smith? Darth Vader versus Wolverine? The arguments start out as playful and innocent, until someone is screaming that there is no way Wolverine could heal a lightsaber wound, and the collectible figurines start flying.

It's the nerd culture that provides the biggest barrier. Ask your friend Mike (you have at least one. Everyone does. It's part of a conspiracy I'll unmask later) what he did this weekend, and he'll say, "Not much." Ask a nerd what he did this weekend and the answer is usually something along the lines of, "My level forty necro-pala-wizard ran a l33t guild raid, but I pulled a Leroy. Now I'm committing e-seppuku."

These are all the reasons that separate nerds from us normal folk (I am normal. Shut up.) Instead of being seen as social blemishes, these little oddities should be seen as distinctive marks of pride, because nerds are quickly going to become a sought-after commodity, not just for their computer abilities.

Nerds are very good at finding beneficial loopholes in systems – they do this all the time to beat games quickly. Apply that to earning money, getting a job, or global domination, and suddenly they're a very useful people. And when that day comes, I'll finally admit that I, myself, know a guy who knows a guy whose brother's roommate is a nerd.

If you want to study nerds yourself, the email address for the CSU Science Fiction and Fantasy Club is csu.overlord@gmail.com.

Johnathan Kastner is a senior English major. His column runs every Thursday. He is the columnist who says, "Ni!"

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