Where Nerd and Geek Meet
I think every nerd/geek/dweeb/weirdo/emoelf/libertarian has different interpretations of the definition of certain words that define us within our hobbyist cultures. I'll share with you my personal definitions for the first three (read: these are tongue-in-cheek descriptions), but I won't touch the last three with even my Maghari Chieftain Staff, nor will I divulge to which of the last three I belong. Mwahaha.

  • Nerd: Academic and abstract minded. Could sit alone for an entire day merely "thinking". Could argue semantics for hours on end, and quite possibly does this very thing as a hobby. Often found with their nose in a book, or debating Foucault with Marxists. They get excited about dictionaries... or possibly very angry when they disagree with the definitions. Examples include: Your English teacher from high school. Your Statistics professor from uni. Hermione Granger. Yours Truly.

  • Geek: I attribute this noun to the "hobbyists". In this context: gamers. They have a hobby that they have integrated, or want to integrate, very deeply into their daily existence and lifestyle. They may become increasingly active in various "sub-cultures" would can encompass a wide variety of things. A geek is not defined by what their hobby is, but rather their attitude, devotion, and excitement regarding their hobby. Examples include: Most Likely Everyone Reading (or writing...) This Blog. Trekkies. Roleplayers.

  • Dweeb: Someone who is an outsider due mostly to poor social skills. Examples include: Steve Urkel. Nuff said.

Sorry, none of my fascinating MsPaint diagrams this time.

An individual can be more than one of these types of people. For instance, most dweebs are also a geek or a nerd. Many bloggers are a combination of Geek and Nerd. I definitely fall under that last particular combination.

When I was in grad school, I was surrounded by non-geek Nerds, and I couldn't stand it. There were plenty of dweeby Nerds, which I don't particularly like. I love geeky nerds. See, a nerd can get so caught up in the abstraction of concepts, in Academia, that they lose touch with people who aren't nerds. Too many develop a superiority complex, because they believe they are more intelligent than non-nerds. The dweebs just kept shuffling awkwardly when I tried to buy them a beer whilst gawking at my chest.

But see, a Geeky Nerd takes the excitement that comes from their innate geekiness, and directs it toward a subject often determined by their nerdiness.

I loved studying Classics when I was surrounded by Latin geeks, because we would giggle about silly jokes like "Semper ubi sub ubi! teeeeeeheeeeeeeeeee!!!" and fritter away our time debating about how to translate "amo" in a Catullus poem, or snickering about Roman graffitti that consisted merely of the words "ARMA" next to a naughty scribble. If you understood any of those three references, and giggled yourself, congratulations. You're a GeekyNerd. I have a tattoo on my back that says "Odi et Amo" because I wanted to be a Latin teacher... and what's cooler than a Latin teacher with a Catullus line imprinted on their back, right? RIGHT? I love it, so I live it.

Because of my particular personality combination of Geekiness and Nerdity, I absolutely adore literature about philosophy and psychology of gameplay. I discovered this great website for a PhD candidate at Washington State University (Christopher Ritter), in which he writes a blog about his topic of interest ("videogames as cultural texts"), as well as discussions surrounding his dissertation. From his "About Me" page:

Essentially, I approach videogames from the viewpoint of contemporary rhetoric, seeing them as cultural artifacts whose design reflects ideologies that are currently bouncing around U.S. culture. The videogames that really catch my eye – and suck up my time – are Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), because they’re both texts  and social spaces, and so studying them involves simultaneously unpacking how they’re designed and how they’re received. My dissertation will focus on the rhetorics of individuality in World of Warcraft.

But I was hooked when I saw his pictures from PAX09.

Those of us involved in the gamer community can be pretty defensive and protective about our hobbies. Most of us are accustomed to occasionally being referred to as some form of an "outsider". So, it's nice to read analyses from someone who is "one of us", even if I don't necessarily agree with all his conclusions. If you are interested in that space wherein Nerd and Geek meet, check out Ritter's page, and feel free to send me links to other things you've read that you enjoy as well.

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13 Responses
  1. Rhii Says:

    Love that analysis Miss Medicina. :)

    I suppose I'm a geeky nerd myself, being a WoW blogger and a closet Trekkie (the first childhood crush I remember was Commander Riker... *sigh*) AND a roleplayer.

    But I have no tolerance for dweeby nerds, like the students I'm stuck with in law school who devote so much attention to their schoolwork that they don't have enough time left over for a personality too. :P

  2. Amoros Says:

    Ah, Latin. Wish I could remember more of it from the few years of high school classes I took. >.<

    Funny thing, it took a year and a half and someone pointing it out to me to realize my character's name was similar to the word for "love" in the Romance languages.

  3. Lucrosus US-Hyjal Says:

    Ah, so I'm a geeky nerd because I giggled at "semper ubi sub ubi"? YES! Finally, I have a classification! :D All those years of declension and conjugation have paid off! I'm sure the nun who taught me from the Lingua Latina text would be oh so justified in knowing I'm putting my skills to good use. Now, if only I could find a way to make my desire to find an active chess club cool so the wife will stop making fun of me for it :)

  4. Unknown Says:

    I can honestly say that I'm a good mix of all three.

    Nerd:If I get excited about a topic, I'll beg to know everything about it. Even if it's something that's really lame. I am the queen of Random information.

    Geek: I blog, I read blogs, I read information from blogs to blog. I RP randomly. I'm a full blown gamer :)

    Dweeb: I'm a socially akward individual.

    Fulguralis is pretty much just a Geek & Nerd. I do not believe the he has any dweeb in him :)

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Da mihi crustulum, ne tibi noceam!

  6. Eversor Says:

    Not sure if I'm a nerdy geek or a geeky nerd. I tell my older daughter that I am the coolest nerd she'll ever meet (and I mean it!). In JH/HS I was always the jock, class clown who went home and played video games, D&D, read greek mythology, sci fi/fantasy, painted miniatures and put a lock on my door so I could score with the ladies....where the hell does that put me? I'm so confused...I won't be categorized! Never!

  7. Eversor Says:

    PS-I did actually use that lock once or twice if memory serves...and it was a real girl...a human one too!

  8. Poneria Says:

    1. "Semper ubi sub ubi" is a Latin Club shirt of mine: it's pink with the David statue wearing underwear. They wouldn't let us have two naked statues in one year, so the guys never got Venus de Milo in a bikini on blue.
    2. "Omg! Amo! & insula! & aqua! Latin I words in a poem NO WAI /squeeeeee" Bandusian font, you were SO awesome.
    3. ARMA ... /roflmao This is the entire point of watching the credits of HBO's Rome series. :)

    Yup. I'm a geeky nerd.

  9. bhorg Says:

    uhoh - 12 years of Latin. I think I'm in trouble.

    Also, having a love of creepy movies, THIS clip shows an older view of geek culture:


  10. Anonymous Says:

    "This is the entire point of watching the credits of HBO's Rome series."

    Omg I'm totally snickering at the other dirty graffiti and the husband is like "whut?"

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Yay! Stereotypes! At least sort of.

    It's hard to label your self. I would considering my self both geek, nerd and sometimes dweeb.

    And stop with the latin! You're making look up stuff and even want to study it. Time I would otherwise spend doing productive things. Yeah... *cough*

  12. Hinenuitepo Says:

    See, I've been trying to define myself to my spouse and best friend. I've generally called myself a 'nerd,' but I was missing out on the proper term: 'geeky nerd'!!!

    Nice reference/linky. I got my PhD from WSU in a social science field as someone who loved gaming, but wisely stayed away from MMOs until after graduation (or you'd probably be still looking at another 'ABD' today). ;)

    No real dweeb here, fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be.

  13. Kensai Says:

    Hur, hur, the only latin i remember i this point was the one we'd made up (slightly shaped here for the English language so you get the picture):

    Filosofus non capit muscam.
    Aberatio mater studiorum.
    Fucerem non fucerem, wankum necesarum est.

    And so on, we'd slaughter the poor Latin language for our inside jokes. Ah, highschool was fun.

    May the geek inherit the earth.

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