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October 14th, 2009

A long time ago, on my old LJ page, I had a couple discussions with wendywoowho about the merits and usage of the terms "nerd" and "geek." The genesis for the back-and-forth was that I used the terms interchangeably while wendywoowho felt that the two had very specific meanings and connotations.

I bring this up because I'm glad to see that GeekDad over at Wired is very much like me:

"For every person like me, who tends to use the words interchangeably, there is someone like Matt who sees nerd as an inferior, loaded label. I suppose the only logical explanation is that neither of us is right or wrong. Nerd and geek are just words, terms as similar or as different as we as geeks/nerds chose to define them. Though the etymology of each springs from equally colorful ground, they both now describe an individual who perhaps appears somewhat more intellectual and somewhat less normal than the baseline. Yet, despite which we choose to wear as our badge of honor, both terms have distinct weaknesses."

[snip]

"In he end, what we are left with is a series of arbitrary words that never quite fit our even more arbitrary definitions. As adults, we choose to wield them, however awkwardly, as verbal manifestations of the downtrodden, put-upon people that we were blossoming into the functional, successful people that we are."

GeekDad goes on to note that you can apply this same paragraph to the words "Trekkie" and "Trekker" -- something I've also duly noted in a long-ago LJ post that I don't feel the need to find and link back to.

For the record, since those discussions with wendywoowho, I have tended to refer to myself most frequently as a "geek" (I will also on occasion refer to myself as a "giant dork"), whereas before I did generally refer to myself as a nerd. Despite this, I really still have no true preference. Although, while I do own shirt that just says "NERD" -- if you like, I can either post a picture of myself from last year wearing it or I can get a new picture of me wearing it now -- but I do not own a "GEEK" shirt. In the end though, GeekDad concludes hi post by saying exactly the right thing:

"We are geeks. We are nerds. We are dorks and dweebs. We are different, but at least we are different together."

End of pointless LJ entry for the day. Sorry to have wasted a couple minutes of your time.

(For full disclosure, I absolutely prefer the term "Trekkie" because I'm going to start a movement to take the term back. I long for the day when only true Trekkies can call each other that.)

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