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An except from a new book, American Nerd: The Story of My People.
May 21, 2008 1:25 PM   Subscribe

The Cool Nerds. It's hip to be square, or something.
posted by fixedgear (96 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wearing goofy glasses and not shaving is passé. It's so fashion alaska. What fad will they take on next?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 PM on May 21, 2008


I took my first stab at being a fake nerd when I was seventeen

I took my first stab at being a real nerd when I was ten and went to a summer camp to learn LOGO.
posted by everichon at 1:33 PM on May 21, 2008 [12 favorites]


Why are all of their "nerds" wearing eyeglasses? I mean, must one wear big plastic frames to be considered a nerd? Or does the mere act of wearing big plastic frames make you a nerd?

Totally ... uh ... sight-ist. I'm going to start a non-glasses-wearing-nerd movement.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2008


Wow, I really couldn't read that. I think I'm just too old to appreciate it. The older you get, the less attention you want to draw to your motivations and influences. Oh, and the "look" - UGH! Hate it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:36 PM on May 21, 2008


Silver is the new gold
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2008


Without the context, I would have just thought these people were unfashionable slobs.
posted by desjardins at 1:39 PM on May 21, 2008


Every single picture in this article is a person wearing glasses.
posted by smackwich at 1:39 PM on May 21, 2008


Why don't magazines publish lengthy fashion and lifestyle articles about people who look and act like me?

Oh, yeah-- it's because I went out of the way to cultivate my own interests and preferences, and didn't just steal a personality from somebody more popular.

::sigh:: Sometimes it's lonely being an individual.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


I can understand the aesthetic appeal of this or that set of glasses, jeans, or fixie. However, when it get to this level of painstaking self-regard in people over the age of, say, 17, it starts to seem like another breed of LARPing. Which is fine actually kind of annoying to me.
posted by everichon at 1:45 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nerds don't go to Lower East Side art parties, they live in science labs, have nearly translucent skin, stammer nervously when forced to interact even with other scientists and cannot under any circumstances hold eye contact with another human being for longer than a finger snap without practically hyperventilating.
posted by The Straightener at 1:46 PM on May 21, 2008 [8 favorites]


That was way too much ironic faux-self-loathing self-indulgence for one article. He could have stretched that into a whole 'zine.
posted by gurple at 1:48 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait a second, when did nerdiness become yet another hipster scene? Is enjoying math the new too-tight ironic thrift-store t-shirt?
posted by Cassilda at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2008


The White Negro
posted by phaedon at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2008


He could have stretched that into a whole 'zine.

That totally smacks of effort.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


BENJAMIN NUGENT deconstructs the history and behavior of the nerd hipster

I don't get it. How are these "nerd hipsters"? They're just hipsters.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:51 PM on May 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


Just wearing glasses makes you a hipster nerd now?
posted by tkchrist at 1:51 PM on May 21, 2008


We cannot allow the hipsters to co-opt nerdiness. Or we must make them all play D&D.
posted by not_on_display at 1:52 PM on May 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


I think what we're really looking at here is extroverts who dress like introverts.
posted by niccolo at 2:00 PM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ugh... I got nothing.
posted by brundlefly at 2:01 PM on May 21, 2008


Barely made it past this opening line, but the rest wasn't nearly as ignorant:
I went to high school in the 1990s; my peers were the first generation of children raised by bourgeois bohemians.
posted by msalt at 2:04 PM on May 21, 2008


This totally pisses me off. I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair.
posted by stenseng at 2:05 PM on May 21, 2008


If you have to try this hard to define yourself, your definition probably needs work.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:05 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


quin's guide to being a nerd:

Don't be clean shaven: it's a hassle and the time can be better spent.
[Under certain circumstances, it's acceptable to be clean shaven. 1.) you are a woman. 2.) you haven't reached an age where you can grow facial hair, or 3.) you have a bowl-styled haircut.]

Don't worry about your clothes. Comfort is most important, pockets are second.

Develop strong opinions on technological minutia.

Be prepared, at any time, to throw down and argue about said minutia.

You will know you have arrived when you look around and notice that all the people you interact with daily meet these same criteria.
posted by quin at 2:07 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great. Now even nerd has been co-opted into some kind of trend. I guess I'll finally have to learn how to be cool.

Maybe I'll start wearing contacts.
posted by howrobotsaremade at 2:09 PM on May 21, 2008


I've been wearing thick dorky glasses since 1973 and not shaving regularly since high-school. Who knew I was such a trend-setter. I thought that I just just a near-sighted slob.
posted by octothorpe at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2008


If you want to see nerds, come to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston today or tomorrow.

Citrix conference.

They're EVERYWHERE.
posted by tadellin at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2008


At least they didn't rebel by putting on blue blazers.
posted by stavrogin at 2:13 PM on May 21, 2008


...and cannot under any circumstances hold eye contact with another human being for longer than a finger snap without practically hyperventilating.

Exactly. I call them "shoe lookers." When passing them in a hallway they look to their shoes and quiver if you "accost" them with a friendly "Hello. Nice day, isn't it?"
posted by ericb at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2008


Whew. I am incapable of being a hipster/cool nerd for multiple reasons, but also because:
-I have a beard, not a patchy attempt at a goatee type thing
-I let said beard grow for more than a days time before shaving it off and starting over.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2008


I always thought that people who wear glasses as a fashion statement do it to suggest that they read books, with the hope that reading books would make them seem more interesting and intelligent.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:16 PM on May 21, 2008


I couldn't get my contacts this weekend, so I had to wear my old, crappy glasses. I had far too many people stop me and tell me, "Cool glasses." I've never been happier to have made the Velma-to-fat-Daphne transition a few years ago.

So this article's main point is that nerds are cool because nerds are sincere? Perhaps I'm playing D&D with the wrong, bizarrely sarcastic crowd.

Oh wait, nerds are in, but geeks are still losers? Thank goodness.
posted by Gucky at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2008


Being hip and being a nerd or geek are mutually exclusive. The glasses/nerd thing is popular because it's the next thing after whatever came before it. The style might be called "nerd," but frankly a real nerd does not try to be a nerd. That may be the point of the article which is just a rehashing of what everyone already knows: It is not possible for an individualist to be fashionable. Check out Ghost World.
posted by suelange at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2008


They dress on the outside how I feel on the inside. Meanwhile, I try to cover up my nerdiness by wearing contacts.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 2:19 PM on May 21, 2008


These nerd "fashionistas" seem to have consulted a "Nerd Handbook" much like faux-preppies did Lisa Birnbach's The Official Preppy Handbook in the '80s, thinking it was a serious "reference guide" and not getting that it was "tongue-in-cheek."
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on May 21, 2008


Ugh... Yeah, yeah, you've got an iPod, that makes you some kind of fucking computer scientist now?
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on May 21, 2008



This totally pisses me off. I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair.


Just wear the empty frames. I know someone who tried this, and was quite entertained by the various ways it gradually dawned on people that there was something not quite right about his glasses :-)

If anyone asks about it, just say "I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair."
posted by -harlequin- at 2:21 PM on May 21, 2008


The author makes a really good point: nerdity does seem more "authentic" than [insert "countercultural" identity here]. Nerds are nerds because their love of and interest in their area of study is clearly more important to them than cultivating an image (either a conformist or deliberately non-conformist image). Basically, nerds can't be bothered with active rebellion involving complicated outfits and accessories because they're busy having actual interests.

Someone I know once remarked that one could tell which film festival attendees had actual industry jobs, and which ones were just starting out: the n00bs were all decked out in black turtlenecks and berets and so forth (seriously) while the old-timers wore nondescript jeans and t-shirts.

You grow up, you start feeling secure and comfortablele, and you stop worrying about whether or not you "look the part." You've got other things on your mind than whether or not your outfit is sufficient to express the fact that you are a very special snowflake/part of an in-group/part of an out-group/meh.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:22 PM on May 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


This totally pisses me off. I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair.

Doesn't stop Drew Carey who had refractive eye surgery to correct his vision when in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The big glasses are a "prop."

Go for clear lenses with big frames. Become one of them!!!
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on May 21, 2008


Develop strong opinions on technological minutia.

Or be nerdy enough to use the Latin declension likely more suitable: the plural -- minutiae.

[Now, if the entire sentence above were in Latin we'd use the ablative plural, wouldn't we?]
posted by ericb at 2:40 PM on May 21, 2008 [10 favorites]


OK, so the same kind of dildos who mocked me for daring to own a personal computer in the mid-80s are now celebrating the trappings of nerdiness? Why, these hucksters have never so much as notched a 5 1/4" floppy disc on the right-hand side in order to turn it into double-density.

I don't mean to rag on useless jocks and other closed-minded grade-school/high school clowns; they do a great job mowing my lawn, delivering my pizzas, etc.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:50 PM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


The computer programmer Yassine triggers my genuine nerd radar (nerddar?) His image doesn't seem particularly constructed to me. Why is he on display here, is it because he lives in the East Village?
posted by naju at 2:51 PM on May 21, 2008


Exactly. I call them "shoe lookers." When passing them in a hallway they look to their shoes and quiver if you "accost" them with a friendly "Hello. Nice day, isn't it?"
Q: How can you tell that the physicist you're talking to is an extrovert?
A: They stare at your shoes when you're talking to them.
posted by Killick at 2:53 PM on May 21, 2008


American Nerd: The Story of My People.

Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them.
posted by ericb at 2:53 PM on May 21, 2008


So, what's the difference between a "nerd" and a "geek?"
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on May 21, 2008


I don't get it. How are these "nerd hipsters"? They're just hipsters.

Ditto. There is nothing "nerd" about these people. The term is about as accurate as calling them "white negroes".

You know what real nerds would say? "No wifi, less space than a nomad. lame."
posted by GuyZero at 2:58 PM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm glad I didn't read this article.
posted by washburn at 2:59 PM on May 21, 2008


^ ericb: "So, what's the difference between a "nerd" and a "geek?""

see here.
posted by self at 3:02 PM on May 21, 2008


Geeks bite the head off Ozzy Osbourne at fairs.
Nerds get revenge in hi-larious ways.
posted by everichon at 3:04 PM on May 21, 2008


Also: pretentious. It doesn't even look like this girl has lenses in her frames. And way to do a study on your generation while barely venturing outside [insert favorite NYC hipster neighborhood here].
posted by self at 3:04 PM on May 21, 2008


Those are joke aquirt glasses or something, right?

Needs more spinning bow-tie.
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on May 21, 2008


Note to self: Do not do search for "squirt glasses" while at work ever again.
posted by Artw at 3:10 PM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


The style might be called "nerd," but frankly a real nerd does not try to be a nerd.

I think the correct term for this current cultural trend is "herd." There must have been a typo in the article.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:16 PM on May 21, 2008


The hair is the hair of Booger, the violinist in Revenge of the Nerds

No, no. It was Poindexter on the violin, with Louis and Gilbert joining in. Booger Presley played the mean guitar.
posted by Jawn at 3:18 PM on May 21, 2008


There's something a bit phony about nerds insisting they aren't trying to look like anything. Everyone has a look, whether they're conscious of it or not.

"Real nerds", or whatever you want to call them, don't wear velour with sparkly sequins, for example, or Hawaiian shirts, or brightly colored designer clothes. They have rules, the same as salseros, or Goths, or salesmen. Some people like that look and copy it. Why be so tribal and territorial about that? It's not copyrighted.
posted by msalt at 3:40 PM on May 21, 2008


I'd like to add a rap by little ol' me, Lamar, if you don't mind.
posted by tristeza at 3:41 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nerds don't go to Lower East Side art parties, they live in science labs, have nearly translucent skin, stammer nervously when forced to interact even with other scientists and cannot under any circumstances hold eye contact with another human being for longer than a finger snap without practically hyperventilating.
posted by The Straightener at 4:46 PM on May 21


I would agree, but I would expand your definitions somewhat -- add libraries or basements to labs, spotty skin to translucent, and nervously motor-mouth when forced to talk to people they don't know.

Being a nerd isn't a livestyle, it's an inadequacy. It's an insult which has been rehabilited somewhat, but the basic truths stand. Nerds aren't cool, the very definition of nerd is "those who fail to be cool" whether through lack of desire or lack of ability or both.
posted by jb at 3:42 PM on May 21, 2008


Why are all of their "nerds" wearing eyeglasses?

It doesn't even look like this girl has lenses in her frames.

It's actually pretty easy to tell which of the "nerds" genuinely need to wear glasses, and which ones are doing it for effect - the secret is to look at the distortion of the side of their face through the lenses. The bigger the distortion, the more short-sighted they are.

Based on this, there are a few genuine nerds (well, at least myopics) towards the bottom of the page.
posted by runkelfinker at 4:03 PM on May 21, 2008


Just wearing glasses makes you a hipster nerd now?

Yup.
posted by lukemeister at 4:05 PM on May 21, 2008


These are not nerds, these are hipsters. Real Nerds are those of us, to quote our patron saints Devo, are through being cool.

stammer nervously when forced to interact even with other scientists and cannot under any circumstances hold eye contact with another human being for longer than a finger snap without practically hyperventilating

No, that's social inadequacy. Not all nerds are socially inadequate and not all socially inadequate people are nerds. To be a nerd is to thouroughly reject the vapid popular standards of "cool" and refuse to conform to them. A nerd would rather pursue their nerd hobbies than vomit on themselves at some crappy shot bar or show off their haircut at a show by some band that they only like because it's cool to. That doesn't mean that nerds never get laid or engage in social activities, but that we don't feel compelled to by peer pressure because we don't care nearly as much about how others see us.

By the way, if you post to web forums, you have at least some nerd tendencies. Embrace it. Join us, and eliminate the ninnies and the twits.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:06 PM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


How do you tell if a geek is extroverted?
He stares at your shoes when he talks to you.
posted by lukemeister at 4:08 PM on May 21, 2008


The only thing hipsters are seemingly "totally Nerd about" is staging themselves, and the minutiae of that staging; every detail needs to be "right" - the punishment of failure: being branded as "trying too hard".

To some extent, everyone is conscious about what they project to the world. The extent of that concern ultimately determines what you make the effort of becoming or staging yourself as.
posted by flippant at 4:08 PM on May 21, 2008


OK, so the same kind of dildos who mocked me for daring to own a personal computer in the mid-80s are now celebrating the trappings of nerdiness?

I knew that the minute I found myself in line at Best Buy behind the jerkwad who beat me up for being all into computers - and he was buying a WWE wrestling game for his PC.

Dude, computers were the band that was cool when only a few people were into them but totally sold out. When was the last time you had an Amiga 500 arcweld itself? Exactly. Computers are just corporate drone wusses now, just doing what The Man wants them to, making commercials, helping starlets start up blogs.

In fact, we're faux nerds even being on metafilter. Shouldn't we be on The Well, or a usenet group or emulating a diversidial system through telnet?
posted by Gucky at 4:16 PM on May 21, 2008


This totally pisses me off. I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair.

This is why a lot of clothing stores now sell fashion glasses. I own a pair. They're just pretty frames with clear plastic lenses. Vision is for chumps, man, but you don't have to look like one!
posted by katillathehun at 4:20 PM on May 21, 2008


I see that the stuffwhitepeoplelike guy has a new writing gig.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 PM on May 21, 2008


@ flippant: "staging themselves". Very well-put.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 4:29 PM on May 21, 2008


^ ericb: "So, what's the difference between a "nerd" and a "geek?""

see here.


And here (loquacious' comment).
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on May 21, 2008


Instant Nerd.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:43 PM on May 21, 2008


Jesus effing christ. This is news? I've been seeing these same jackasses parading around in their "nerd hipster" apparel since I first moved to NYC five years ago. Imagine my dismay in finding out that I had just moved to a city that seemed entirely constituted of the snobby bastards who ran the radio station at my old college.

I know I shouldn't bitch about this, because all fashion is fascism and all trends are at their root completely retarded, but this particular fad sticks crosswise in my craw. The fact is that being an actual nerd (an intelligent person with few social skills) will never be popular. I'm not even really sure where the "nerd aesthetic" even comes from. To me, it looks like an imitation of "kids growing up in the 80s who let their preppy, yet out-of-touch parents dress them," but what the hell do I know.

Real outsiders aren't fashionistas. They're just outsiders. They live invisible little lives, and most of the time nobody even notices them.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:44 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This totally pisses me off. I want nerdy hipster glasses, but have perfect eyesight! Not fair.

I have the opposite problem. I'm terribly nearsighted (I cannot read the E on the eye chart), and I've had the same frames for about 10-11 years, which I bought because they were the closest approximation I could find to the National Health Service glasses that Elvis Costello and Morrissey wore in the 80s. In the interim, the style was appropriated by hipsters and I've been accused of being one a few times based only on my glasses. I could buy different ones, but I like these.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:56 PM on May 21, 2008


Hello, the '80s called. They want their eyeglasses back.
posted by deborah at 5:12 PM on May 21, 2008


Isn't this what boingboing is for?
posted by lukemeister at 5:37 PM on May 21, 2008


Only if the hipster nerds are made out of Legos or attending some sort of Steampunk or DRM conference.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:55 PM on May 21, 2008


Not shaving never doesn't go out of unstyle!
posted by jessamyn at 6:01 PM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is why a lot of clothing stores now sell fashion glasses. I own a pair. They're just pretty frames with clear plastic lenses. Vision is for chumps, man, but you don't have to look like one!

Fuck that shit. You didn't earn it reading by streetlights when you were seven. You don't get it. Just like short girls dating tall boys. We suffered for it when it wasn't cool, we get the rewards. Posers.
posted by dame at 6:15 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The computer programmer Yassine triggers my genuine nerd radar (nerddar?) His image doesn't seem particularly constructed to me. Why is he on display here, is it because he lives in the East Village?

That was my thought too. And my hipsterdar is awesome, thanks to living in Portland. Maybe there's a prize for spotting the real nerd.
posted by blissbat at 6:16 PM on May 21, 2008


Hmmm these people aren't nerds as much as geeks to me. I much rather be a geek than a nerd. Geeks have fun (Dragoncon anyone?) and get laid. Nerds wonder what getting laid is all about.
posted by dasheekeejones at 6:27 PM on May 21, 2008


Maybe there's a prize for spotting the real nerd.

My favorite part was the author talking about being a former nerd, now confident enough to embrace/confront that part of himself, and how that's a big part of this trend.
posted by msalt at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2008


Being a nerd is a way of mind, man!

Always been a nerd, which I called being a freak later, but it's all the same. Tried to fight it for years, but finally figured out the freaks I hung out with were nerds who liked music and who liked to party. Never wore glasses, though. I look pretty normal now, at least for this town of freaks and misfits. Now, get off my unkempt acre, tourist!
posted by krinklyfig at 10:20 PM on May 21, 2008


We barely make it through the trials and tribulations of the school system with some semblance of sanity intact, after being abused and mistreated and mocked and taunted and beaten up for being geeks and nerds...only to find the people who abused us now try to dress and act like us, and have the same interests, because being a "geek" is the hip thing now.
So sad.
posted by nightchrome at 10:21 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


nightchrome writes "only to find the people who abused us now try to dress and act like us, and have the same interests, because being a 'geek' is the hip thing now."

Yeah, but they still ask me to fix their damn computer.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:53 PM on May 21, 2008


Y'all sure do know a lot about hipsters.
posted by sleepy pete at 11:25 PM on May 21, 2008


Living In NY and seeing these people around, the first thaought that comes into my head is always "do these people realiz that the look like fucking idiots"?

If you're living somewhere where this isn't omnipresent, and you're judging by the pictures, you're missing out on the true horror of it all. It goes beyond nerd appropriation, trucker hats or fixed gear bikes. It actually has nothing to do with any of that.

What makes it so bizarre is that these people are wearing costumes in everyday life. I don'tmean that in a fashion is a costume kind of way. I mean that in a "what are you dressing up as on October 31st kind of way"

I've worn my fair share of regrettable trends in my day, and I'm not on a" you kids pull up your pants and get a haircut" kick. You stand one of these folks next to the trendiest of trendy people, and it's still obvious that the trendy person is wearing actual clothes. These folks are wearing costumes in the way that you show up to a costume party in a hard hat and overalls and everyone thinks your construction worker outfit is awesome, but in no way would anyone ever actually confuse you for an actual construction worker.

I'm talking about 22 year olds with comb-overs.

I'm still not sure I'm doing justice to the ridiculousness of it all. I would give it some sort of credence if somewhere in there was some sort of "fuck you" to society in there somewhere. But in most of my dealings, especially with the younger crowd, it is pure affectation.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:36 AM on May 22, 2008


It was a rather interesting article actually. There has definately been a rise in nerdism amongst the trendsetters.

These are not nerds, these are hipsters. Real Nerds are those of us, to quote our patron saints Devo, are through being cool.

argh yes that was the point of the article they are not real nerds.

and Devo now has soo much cool cachet that its probably no.1 on influence of the Hipsters. - actually quoteing Devo lyrics has outed yourself as a fake nerd. Real nerds these days don't even know who Devo is.
posted by mary8nne at 2:51 AM on May 22, 2008


Yes. I consider myself a nerd.

Somehow it seems a little more believable coming from him.
posted by Drexen at 3:10 AM on May 22, 2008


Homer: So, I realized that being with my family is more important
than being cool.
Bart: Dad, what you just said was powerfully uncool.
Homer: You know what the song says: "It's hip to be square".
Lisa: That song is so lame.
Homer: So lame that it's... cool?
Bart+Lisa: No.
Marge: Am I cool, kids?
Bart+Lisa: No.
Marge: Good. I'm glad. And that's what makes me cool, not caring,
right?
Bart+Lisa: No.
Marge: Well, how the hell do you be cool? I feel like we've tried
everything here.
Homer: Wait, Marge. Maybe if you're truly cool, you don't need to
be told you're cool.
Bart: Well, sure you do.
Lisa: How else would you know?
posted by Sparx at 4:00 AM on May 22, 2008


this guy seems to get it just right. nerds are cool. i know from personal experience! being one, dating several. they're the best.
posted by dagnabbit at 4:11 AM on May 22, 2008


mary8nne writes "actually quoteing Devo lyrics has outed yourself as a fake nerd."

No, as an old nerd.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:14 AM on May 22, 2008


I think Devos kind of an american thing, it's totally not part of my nerd existance.
posted by Artw at 8:26 AM on May 22, 2008


Hmm. I actually think about this kindof a lot.

This article is an exaggeration of the trend of hipsters appropriating nerd culture, because it really is "authentic." And that's what hipsters want. Authenticity. Even though it's practically exactly the opposite of what they achieve.

I think the line is a lot blurrier than that between fake nerds and real nerds, though. Maybe because hipsters try so hard to actually imitate nerd culture without actually being nerds. It's connected to how popular xkcd has become, even though most people don't really understand most of them, unless they're nerds. Blogs, too, toe the line between nerdy and hipster these days.

There's something to be said about white identity and culture here, too, but I'm not sure exactly what. Maybe just that whiteness is connected to the search for authenticity. /underdeveloped theory.
posted by lunit at 1:00 PM on May 22, 2008


There's something to be said about white identity and culture here, too, but I'm not sure exactly what. Maybe just that whiteness is connected to the search for authenticity. /underdeveloped theory.
posted by lunit at 4:00 PM on May 22 [+] [!]


Well, you could say that some pre-dominantly white cultures are denied authenticity. Not all white cultures, but based on my experience in Canada and the UK, the dominant is often seen as less authentic. Not by members of minority cultures - but by the members of the majority culture itself. For example, English people in Britain will talk about having "no culture", when that's ridiculous - England is chock full of culture. You don't get much more cultural and authentic than Morris dancing (even if women do it now - it's still strange and esoteric and has bells and sticks and weird and wonderful primitiveness about it). But that culture seems to be perceived as being less cultural, perhaps simply because it is dominant.

You can see this in the way people are described. Minorities are in some places called "ethnic", which is really silly because all people have ethnicity. But when you belong to the dominant ethnicity, it fades - it's the forest you can't see because you're in it.

I used to think about this as a teenager, observing how popular "Celtic" culture was (eveb though there really never was any Celtic culture in history) with otherwise not Scottish, Irish or Welsh white Canadian teenagers; I wondered if it was part of a search for a cultural identity they didn't realise they had (Canadian - something I've only come to really appreciate after having left the country). I think nerd culture is also a way for people who may feel that they have no authentic culture to build one.

Frankly, I think we should restore the authenticity of majority culture - and I know that makes me sound all BNP, but far from it, I love multiculturalism. But I think multiculturalism is robust enough to embrace majority as well as minority cultures.
posted by jb at 3:14 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's connected to how popular xkcd has become, even though most people don't really understand most of them, unless they're nerds.

Whoah, get over yourself! Do you really imagine that people sit around their offices, self-consciously displaying xkcd comics that they don't understand, just in order to gain some kind of nerd cred?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:37 PM on May 22, 2008


It has nothing to do with "displaying" anything. I read xkcd, and I don't understand the programming jokes. Some of my friends, who initially introduced me to the comic, also read it without understanding the programming jokes. Some of them are hipsters. I don't think people think of xkcd as nerd cred, as much as they think of it as cool. But, yeah, I think part of that has to do with claiming nerdiness as hip. There are enough strips that appeal to people in general that it attracts a wider audience than just computer programmers and such. Sometimes I feel like the way it's linked on this site is a part of that trend that I've seen elsewhere.
posted by lunit at 8:54 PM on May 22, 2008


sudo gtfo
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


NYT on geeks v nerds
posted by fixedgear at 6:42 AM on May 23, 2008


Barack Obama has become the Prince Caspian of the iPhone hordes

Trying to drop few au courant cultural references in there I see, Paul... nice try, but Prince Caspian is a bit too obvious, don't you think? It's hardly at Dennis Miller levels of obscurity. Prince Rilian maybe, amirite? Perhaps the Caramon Majere of the d20 crowd? A little effort on the obscure references, please.
posted by GuyZero at 11:04 AM on May 23, 2008


Trying to drop few au courant cultural references in there I see, Paul... nice try

Actually, that David Brooks filling in for Paul Krugman, but well taken. I did like his point that nerd/geek has been cool and "a look" since at least the late 1970s -- Elvis Costello, David Byrne, Devo, etc.
posted by msalt at 12:53 PM on May 23, 2008


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