I will not pretend that I am not one of you. I will not pretend that I have at times had -- perhaps even as I write this -- similar attitudes to the ones I am about to complain about. Perhaps my complaining is even a form of it. None the less, we need to talk. For the sake of this letter, please visualize me clapping my hands once before sitting backwards on a chair and saying "Let's rap."
Last night I went to see the latest Doctor Who which was being played -- more than likely illegally -- at a local movie theater. The showing was free, and was just the BBC America feed being put up on the big screen. It was a wonderful experience despite the man sitting directly behind me. While nothing could ruin seeing one of my favorite shows presented on a screen about 100 times bigger than the one I'm used to, that man seemed determined to try. I know people like him exist, and sadly they are the reason I have actually avoided attending any of the live RiffTrax events. He was, and pardon my French, un connard, yelling commentary in order to bring attention to himself. The main problem was that it simply wasn't funny. The larger problem was that when he didn't get the high fives he was no doubt expecting when commenting on the commercials he started doing it during the show. Do not do that. While walking to a bus stop on my way home I was thinking about the man when I passed someone else in a black t-shirt with simple block lettering: "No, I will not fix your computer." It pressed me further into rumination on Nerdom. And I realized I'm not entirely sure that the man at Doctor Who was hoping for people to think he was cool.
Being nerdy has hit the mainstream, between the popularity of LOST and Battlestar Galactica, the recent uptake in comic book movies, and the very existence of Big Bang Theory, pop culture has nestled up to many things that were traditional nerd culture. (Though Big Bang Theory is hardly the nerd humor show that many pretend it is, but that's an item for another letter.)
Like many an indie music aficionado (geeks in their own right) who suddenly discovers that his favorite band is getting national radio play, there is a rather large subset that has reacted not with joy that more people are getting into what you consider to be good, but anger that what was "mine" is now "ours" and what's the point in liking a thing if it's popular? Where the music snob responds by handing it over to the others and letting it be "theirs" while he labels the band sellouts and its fans sheep, the nerd has realized that if the mainstream is embracing his loves then he needs something else to set himself apart.
Ergo, snark. And if your intention is to get people to hate you, then go for it. But it still makes you a jerk.
Being a nerd isn't about being apart from the mainstream. The separation is a side effect not a goal. Being a nerd is about loving things just because they are there, viewing them with a child-like sense of wonder. To their credit, many a prominent nerd has noticed this problem and are fighting it, The Vlogbrothers and Wil Wheaton among them. The point is stop trying to be insular.
Stop trying to set yourself apart. Stop caring what other people like. Just love what you love and do what you do.
I promise it will make you happier.
Or send you to prison.
But only if you love and do things that society as a whole has decided aren't the sort of things that one should love and do.
Hope this was helpful,
The Adam Glass