Geek – Nerd Relativity
Geek-nerd relativity is a wonderful part of the skeptical community. Members usually lie on one extreme of either the geek or nerd scale and often both. Last night in bed (this isn’t getting as sexy as it sounds), I was participating in my nightly ritual of falling asleep to the Harry Potter audiobooks read by Jim Dale. Aside: my boyfriend hates it. I think this is pretty geeky in itself, but there was a detail I wanted to confirm from the storyline that I couldn’t recall despite calling myself a Potter fanatic. I couldn’t possibly fall asleep without seeking out the answer that was plaguing me. Out comes my handy dandy friend Google and I stumbled across the Harry Potter wiki. It was at this moment I realized that by geekdom is not near as prolific as I might have thought.
The detail of the wiki astounded me. I found myself flipping through several wiki pages before forcing myself to put my phone down and actually fall asleep. This got me thinking of where do I actually fall on the geek scale!? Fellow Skepchicks will tell you that I am not the most traditionally geeky of us. I schedule my autumn weekends around football games… every Saturday and every Sunday. In fact, I might be the least geeky as I didn’t know what a TARDIS or a MMO was before I was included amongst the Skepchick brethren. [queue laughter, they did] Perhaps, I am just a different type of a geek: a sports geek (more on that later).
So why the hell am I a Skepchick? Oh yeah, I am huge nerd. My Ph.D. is in computational quantum chemistry first of all. They might as well have stamped ‘NERD’ on my forehead during commencement right after I was hooded. I do science many, many hours a week, but I don’t live and breath it ‘off-clock’ (ha, like that exists in academia) as some of my other colleagues do. I am not strictly speaking that science makes your nerdy, but I generally perceive nerdiness as someone that obtains information in a traditional book worm fashion. Subjects can be incredibly diverse, which is one thing that makes nerdiness awesome. Whereas, I view geeky as someone who favors fictional based scenarios. What are your definitions? For me though, much of what I do daily is filtered through my nerd lens.
Geek/Nerd Scores — It’s all Relative!
I don’t want to characterize myself by two sweeping generalizations. There are other things going into my composite score that only I know, similar to you only know how geeky or nerdy you are. I wanted to come up with a rough scale to evaluate myself and would love to see where Skepchick readers fall as well. [Warning: this is not meant to be scientific at all, just having fun here.] I would say my Geek Score is 45, while my Nerd Score is around 90.
So do these scales intersect? Am I a little geeky because I am nerdy? Or am I nerdy because I grew up a little geeky? I think they definitely intersect and are symbiotic. For me, my love of sports and stats research as a child turned into pursuing research as my grown-up job. Science fiction is another classic example. I don’t spend much time in that wormhole, but many do. There is literature, gaming, and a plethora of other outlets where geek and nerd intersect.
However, one of the things that always entertains me is when I am not spending time with my normal crew. I am still fairly new to this city and most of my social situations aren’t dominated by scientists and skeptics. I notice that the scale slides fairly dramatically towards me being excessively nerdy and slightly more geeky. It is relative to who you are with. I don’t believe these scales are absolute. Perhaps my scores change to Geek Score: 50 – Nerd Score: 98.
The scale also slides the other way. One that is obvious to me is at conferences. My nerd cred is seriously depleted when I am around the elite in my field. Geek Score: 45 – Nerd Score: 55.
Do you have certain interests that tip one scale heavy in one direction or the other? What are they? Do yours intersect more than mine? What are your scores? What are your relative scores? What are they relative to?
Shameless Plug: Every Friday at 5:00 EST beginning 2/15, I am co-hosting a radio show with Johnny Crosskey named We Have Sports on the internet radio station, RhinoOnAir.com. I am really excited for this new project to debut on Friday as everything became real yesterday while we were recording promos in the studio in St. Petersberg, Florida. It will be podcasted if you can’t catch the show live. Johnny and I have been working on developing a unique, fun sports talk radio show for months now and I can’t wait for our debut this Friday! If this isn’t your cup of tea, it is also a great place to check out Florida’s local artists. Take a listen!