How Nerds Became Cool

CNN discusses a lengthy definition of the word geek. It mentions that the word geek is commonly used interchangeably with the word nerd. But the two have different etymologies and imply two totally different but somehow interrelated meanings.

The media outfit shares that the word nerd does not usually have a positive ring to it. Portrayed in old movies and television, nerd is used to define characters that were intelligent but weak. Meanwhile, geek has a more positive connotation; the word is used to describe empowered, intelligent people who are the brains behind Silicon Valley.

In short, CNN defines geeks as empowered nerds. Geeks have money, power, and as seen throughout the latest new reports, they even have the girls.

Powerful Geeks

At the moment, the world’s richest are composed of tech giant leaders including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. They dominate the industry, the world, and even outer space.

Jeff Bezos, for instance, made a quick trip to space, just because he can. Meanwhile, Bill Gates was seen dominating the dance floor in one of the parties he attended. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, has been constantly posting videos of him on Facebook while flyboarding.

Certainly, geeks have become the future’s cool kids. It leaves an impression that working with a reliable IT company is cool and a great career path. The evidence is shown not only in the US but in different parts of the world like Australia.

According to Reuters, geeks have ousted miners from the top spot of Australia’s richest. As Australia’s coal magnate Nathan Tinkler faces bankruptcy, software entrepreneurs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar lead the nation’s young rich list, leaving Tinklar behind.

The Geek Evolution

The word geek was first printed in the Glossary of Yorkshire Words and Phrases. It was defined as an uncultivated person, synonymous with a fool. In short, the word geek was initially equated with freaks, like those shown in carnivals and the circus. Specifically, a geek was a person who bites off the head of a chicken in a circus act.

nerd man

But as we come to know now, geek is now associated with the world cool. If you were going to ask people of yesteryears, they will laugh at the idea. For them, to equate geek as cool is contradictory. Coolness is defined as a person’s ability to be at the cultural and social center; no one in the past would imagine that geeks would be at the center or even part of the cultural and social norm.

Yet, this was the time when people were associating geeks with nerds, too. As such, they equate both words to describe a person with social ineptness; a geek or a nerd is socially awkward and just plainly uncool.

However, geek has always also been associated with having expertise. This expertise is what gives them the edge they have today. Geeks have different subcultures; there are the computer geeks, the anime geeks, and the coffee geeks. Over time, these different subcultures have become cool, thanks to the help of the media.

Media Making Geek Look Cool

Media plays an important part in the perception of people about geeks. It has played an important part in promoting geek culture. Science fiction movies, for instance, have influenced the world’s youth and older generations of today.

In the 1990s, geek culture became mainstream through movies like Edward Scissorhands. In the movie, the typical jock finally does not win the girl; instead, Winona Ryder’s character falls for the awkward Edward Scissorhands. Tina Fey’s character on “30 Rock” has also been an example for the girl geeks; Fey plays a nerdy girl who ultimately ends up with good-looking guys Jon Hamm and Matt Damon.

When the first Comic-Con started in San Diego in the 1970s, it boosted up the geeks’ status in the social circle. Currently, Comic-Cons are not only a comic book convention but a Hollywood hotspot. Celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Justin Timberlake, and Robert Downey, Jr are only a few of the stars that have graced a Comic-Con.

Due to Comic-Cons accessibility, it has grown in popularity. Almost every movie and television series have representations in different comic conventions. This is how geek culture becomes stronger and stronger, and the community grows bigger and bigger.

Overall, the word geek has absolutely evolved into something that is intrinsic to the culture. From uncool, the word geek is now used to define something cool. Even in fashion, the “geek chic” is now a trend; those nerdy types of clothing have now become part of a hip and young style.

It is also definitely thanks to the internet. Because people can easily access movies and television shows that positively influence the geek culture, geeks have gone out of their basements into the mainstream.