Geek versus nerd: a case study

Okay, I admit it, I’ve been called a geek, and a nerd, mostly a geek, but recently a nerd. Which made me then question…what is the difference?

So from wikihow I found the following article: How to Tell the Difference Between Nerds and Geeks.

Here are the main points:

1. Understanding the terminology:

  • ” a geek could be viewed as someone with an interest or lifestyle having to do with niche activities, especially fandoms such as Doctor Who or the Avengers and technology.”
  • “A nerd could be viewed as someone with an extremely intense interest or fascination in an academic field of study (often an obscure field) or similar cerebral pursuit.”

Here I would like to point out myself and my friend who shall be known here only as Ducky. Yes, you know who you are. I would classify myself as a geek, I would classify him as a nerd (but a very lovable nerd!). Okay, I admit, I am getting a secret thrill out of getting a new computer for Christmas. On the other hand, if you give him any number he could probably (with a 99.999% accuracy rate) tell you something of historical significance that happened in that year.

2. “Jargon versus obscure referencing:

  • “Nerds are unabashed about using jargon or unfamiliar terminology in their dialogue…”
  • “…Geeks will use obscure references abundantly.”

Ducky has been known to name people after strange Roman-esque sounding people who lived in BCE times. I on the other hand was about to give the nickname of Ender to a new co-worker whose name is Arnold, however, Ender’s true name was Andrew, but for the life of me couldn’t remember which it was (brain fart). So I went around work asking everyone, and of course I was getting strange looks because no one there has EVER read Ender’s Game. I also call another co-worker Puck, but expect that reference to go way over his head.

3. “Prominent posessions: Nerds may be more willing than geeks to show off hobbies and possessions that flaunt their intellect, whereas geeks may take pride in more obscure and unique subjects.”

Anyone who has talked to Ducky, or played chess with him, can tell you he flaunts his intellect. But he does it in an unknowing way. It’s just the lovable part of him. He would even give me a queen-rook advantage over him in chess, and still beat the pants off me. Do I take pride in “obscure and unique” subjects? I don’t really know what would be considered obscure and unique, its all normal to me.

4. Conversations: ” If the person fails to respond in a socially comfortable manner (i.e., they make you nervous, or vice versa), you may be talking to a nerd. If they respond in a comfortable manner but appear a little “dorky”, such as speaking and/or acting silly, you might be talking to a geek.”

Recently, Ducky was called a “creepy nerd”. Now he is definitely a nerd, but creepy?! No way! Obviously that person who called him that, whoever the hell s/he is, doesn’t know Ducky. You gotta know Ducky to appreciate him and love him the way we, his friends, do. He’s not exactly the most socially ept person, and he prefers to stay within his own circle of comfortable friends.

Compared to Ducky, I’m a social swan. Compared to most other people however, socially I’m a bumbling idiot. I’ve opened my mouth, inserted foot, and wondered why I was inserting my foot….

5. Interests: Nerds usually go for more cerebral interests, geeks go for more niche-y interests:

Some of the examples given:

  • Nerds like chess (did I mention Ducky could kick my ass on the chessboard even giving me a distinct advantage?!).
  • geeks like things such as LARPing (my character was a dryad by the name of Willow who then became queen of the….nevermind, you probably don’t need to hear all the details), niche activities such as board games (yes, I had a lucky d20 and if you get that reference, you’re probably a geek too)

6. The person in question: ” Matt Blum claims that geeks have no problem falling in love with non-geeks but nerds always fall in love with other nerds.”

  • Did I mention that my husband is a very lovable meat-head who I don’t believe has cracked open a book in 30 years? And he just rolls his eyes when I make some obscure reference to something I watched or read, where as I will just nod my head when he starts spouting off his non-football related sports facts.
  • Ducky has finally found a compatible match in a female. YAY Ducky!

So, I think I can finally sit back and proudly pronounce, without a hint of doubt….



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