Nerds are Cool Part 3

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Dilettante

Image by Sapphireblue via Flickr

Hi. I was on vacation. But I’m back! 🙂 Let’s see, where were we…

Originally, being a nerd was associated with people who worked with computers. Even today, computers and electronics are considered “nerdy” interests.  Really, though, it’s evolved to mean someone who is enthusiastic about any one thing.

“…nerds…are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it…when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’” (Green)

So, if isn’t computers or glasses that define nerds, what is it? It may be their introversion, and the resulting lack of empathy.  Not only do nerds “seek…to avoid physical and emotional confrontation”, they may not even understand it. Author Benjamin Nugent invites us to think about Victor Frankenstein, a classic example, and what makes him “an ur-nerd”.

“The young scientist…betrays a combination of rational thinking and technical prowess coupled with a childlike inability to fully grasp that other people are just as needy, ambitious, and sensitive as himself- as Harold Bloom once put it, Frankenstein is ‘a being who has never achieved a full sense of another’s existence.’ That’s what enables him to make the monster and fail to think, How would I like it if I had skin that barely held together, was eight feet tall, and had yellow eyes and black lips, so that people were inclined to run from me in terror? How would I like it if I had no family? His failure is a failure to emotionally confront another person, a failure of empathy. In a stupid person, this lack of empathy might not matter, but in a modern man with a godlike capacity for making things, it can create disasters. The root of evil in Frankenstein is the mingling of scientific brilliance with a deficit of emotional connectedness.”

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