In recent years, one particular trend has begun to multiply and spread rapidly. Its presence is lurking in hip coffee shops, college food courts and elite parties. Thousands of popular retailers are creating profit from it, and people of all ages are happy to supply them with their money. The fad? The concept or appearance of a “nerd.”
Before you decide whether this is true or not, glance around at those wearing glasses. How many of them are dark, thick or squarely framed? How many are real, and how many are, in fact, lacking prescription lenses and were most likely bought at an accessory store? Chances are, the results are oddly accurate.
These “geeky” glasses are not the end of it, however. When dealing with a super-sized fad, a large amount of merchandise within the topic is almost always involved. Video game themed t-shirts, comic book allusions or any other obscure form of entertainment are often related to those self-professed “nerds.” The more vintage the reference, the higher level of credibility these individuals receive. Websites like thinkgeek.com or personalnerd.com embrace the growing nerdy culture. As if the names were not evidence enough, their products are intelligently designed to attract those following this trend. By just taking a casual browse through thinkgeek.com, one can find light saber flashlights, Linux referenced T-shirts and LED belt buckles scrolling the word: GEEK. Halloween costumes are no stranger to this sweeping trend, either. One of the easiest, last minute costume ideas of some young adults is to simply pair a sweater with dorky glasses. Or, for the economical nerd, punch out the plastic lenses of a 3D movie theater pair and be on your merry, dorky way.
Where did this geek frenzy originate from and why is our generation closely following it? Is it really because of Generation X’s technological influence or is it purely a momentary fad?
In 1984, the film Revenge of the Nerds was released. The protagonists (portrayed as obvious nerds) were ostracized and harassed until the very end when they do, in fact, get revenge. Even after a successful and somewhat positive depiction of these “geeks,” there was not a large epidemic of teenagers dressing in nerdy fashion in the ‘80s.
So why am I writing this piece? It is not because I particularly loathe people who wear thick-rimmed glasses or like to follow popular trends. It is not because I needed a good topic I could shamelessly complain about and it is certainly not due to any amount of conceit. I merely think we, as humans, tend to create a lot of bizarre habits and it is interesting to explore deeper. For example, besides all of the commercialism surrounding the style, I have noticed how it has also provided us with a crutch in social situations.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “I know, I’m such a nerd,” in a casual conversation? Chances are the words that came out of that person’s mouth minutes before were seemingly embarrassing.
“I stayed up until 3 a.m. last night watching a Law and Order marathon. I’m such a nerd.” Using this phrase is basically a get-out-of-jail-free card when sharing something unconventional or quirky. It is even used to brag by those who choose to abuse it.
“I’m totally into obscure, indie films at the moment. I’m such a nerd.” What this theoretical person is really saying is, “My life is so much more interesting than yours and this is proved by the referral to myself as a nerd.”
In conclusion, if you would like to join the nerd movement, do me a favor; strive to complete a geeky goal first. Read a book from the canon of literature, see a little known play or learn a new language. Master a video game, work in Adobe Photoshop or vote in every election. Do something that challenges the accepted norm and enriches your life.