Nerd Culture is fake

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Michelle Marchante | Contributing Writer


It’s fascinating to see how something that used to be considered nerdish suddenly becomes cool once it hits the mainstream. Look at the term nerd, for instance. When used, it could mean you are really smart, but it’s still used as a degrading and cruel word to bully someone.

However this word has suddenly become a “cool” phrase.

Celebrities walking around wearing shirts with comments such as, “I Love Nerds” and stating in interviews that they consider themselves nerds is probably the reason for the word’s newfound popularity, leading to stores that target young adults selling shirts with pictures of Hello Kitty wearing glasses with “nerd” sprawled across it with other accessories used as nerdy self-identifiers.

It’s like some secret campaign to stop bullying that hit the mainstream, without people realizing it, under the pretense of a new trend: Nerd Culture. Instead of avoiding the term, as was done in the past, people claim to be nerds just because they saw the latest sci-fi film or say that they’re nerdy because they read a book.

A campaign against bullying is a great thing, but changing the meaning of a word that is constantly used to bully, in my opinion, will not stop the act of bullying. Maybe this campaign is meant to aid the self-confidence of those who have suffered from or are currently being bullied. The thought behind this unofficial campaign could be that, if you give negative word a new, positive meaning, it will stop being negative – but it doesn’t work like that. If the word nerd suddenly takes on a new connotation, people will just invent another word to replace it. Changing the meaning of words isn’t going to stop bullying, it’s just going to make the bullies have to think and come up with a new cruel word to use.

In fact, this campaign to make “nerd” a positive word might be doing more harm than good. I can imagine that anyone who has been called a nerd or experienced any other name-calling as an act of bullying might actually be bothered with people using that word so flippantly. In fact, I can see how someone might even consider it as an indirect way of bullying. Just imagine the bully calling himself a nerd right after he scornfully said it to someone. It would be another indirect way to make fun of someone who had been called that in the past. While it gave someone grief, it’s a source of amusement for someone else. In my book, that still sounds like bullying if you’re deliberately saying it in front of someone you know has suffered from the name-calling.

Friendly name-calling is fine when both parties are okay with it and know it’s not meant literally, but if one of the two takes it the wrong way, it becomes bullying. It seems silly to think that bullying would transcend high school and into university but it does. It even translates into the workforce. Just because someone graduates from high school doesn’t mean they suddenly change their ways. Yes, people change, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Change takes time.

It doesn’t matter if we’re out of high school, it doesn’t matter if you’re now a part of the workforce or if you’re finally graduating into the “real world,” you have to remember that words can still hurt. Saying you’re an adult and being one is two completely different things. Bullying will never go away, to think otherwise is foolish, but it can be lessened.

People like to think they don’t imitate what they see on TV or in movies, but the truth is, sometimes we do – even if we don’t realize it. Instead trying to change the meaning of words like nerd, maybe the campaign should focus on showing more people standing up to bullies in shows and movies. Some of you may be doubtful, but I think this idea could work. Doesn’t hurt to try, right?

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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