Bleeding Cool is an interesting site. I read the comic stuff every day (the film stuff is not terribly interesting to me, usually, although they sometimes find small stories that I missed), and I have a kind of love/hate relationship with it. The info is usually fast and sometimes even good, but Rich Johnston has the soul of a tabloid tycoon; it’s like if Rupert Murdoch ran a comic book site. There’s a lot of cheap sensationalism that goes on (which works, admittedly. I will click through to links because the headlines sound big and find the story to be not that interesting).
Today they ran a column which just deeply fascinates me. I have always been really interested in nerd culture; I know that people think I’m some snarky sniper at nerds, but the reality is that I’m a nerd too and I find our little world fascinating from a sociological point of view. What’s doubly fascinating is when you find reality matching the stereotype, when you run into some kind of uber-fanboy who is so socially maladjusted he comes across like a joke. Anyway, the column they ran is about dating advice for nerds. It has a section by a girl nerd and a section by a boy nerd and it’s absolutely bizarre.
The thing reads like it’s written for either 13 year olds or people who are first entering the light of day after 30 years in the basement. It’s so entry level that it actually reads like parody. And the guy’s advice ends with this whopper: “Don’t be weird.” It’s as though he’s counseling the cast of a sitcom.
But it got me thinking: how rare is the socially functioning nerd? I find myself surrounded by professionally geeky people who are highly socially functioning. Yeah, many of them have weird issues, but they’re the same weird issues ‘normal’ people have too. I know some professional nerds whose demeanor feels semi-Aspergian but the huge majority seem like normal, standard human beings who just happen to like dweeby things. And when I go to Comic Con or other conventions I definitely run into the sweaty, uncomfortably weird type, but I meet many, many more regular and cool people.
I don’t really know what the thesis of this article is; basically I’m just equally amused and appalled by the dating advice column. You should read it by clicking here. Let me know what you think. Is it time for nerds to shrug off the image of being socially awkward, of being unable to get a date, of being creepy losers who must be instructed NOT to discuss the minutia of Star Wars on a first date? Can one be a nerd but also be a regular, socialized human being?