Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I <3 Nerds

I love nerds, or I (heart) Nerds t-shirt.I almost did a very bad thing the other day.

I was clothes shopping the other day, and I nearly bought a t-shirt. It was a "I <3 Nerds" t-shirt. But I got to thinking, "Er, I like the sentiment, but my husband is not a nerd." This could be a real mistake.

This would have been a real mistake.

When I was in school, nerds were not loved. Well, they were loved by their mothers and sometimes fathers, but not by girls. Popular girls would not be found near nerds. Now, nerds are cool.

I don't know exactly what it is. Perhaps Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin tipped the scale, and others found out that these guys are winners. Maybe it is because even cool people take advantage of technology. Flash drives, iPods, TiVos®.

I think geeks and nerds going from outcasts to the center of attention was a gradual thing.

And I did not even see the change coming. Well, I did not notice the change, but perhaps I did see it. You see, when I was in college, I remember the Computer Science geeks. Computer science was a 30- or 40-year discipline, and I remember seeing them on campus. Many of them were typical nerds, the type of person who thought it was cool to write a computer program, type it out on computer cards (punch cards), and get the program to run correctly the first time through. Yeah, before tape, before floppies, before hard disks there were computer cards. I have never used them; I was not a computer nerd. But it seems impressive that holes punched in pieces of paper are lines of code. It does not get me going, so to speak, but it is impressive.

I understand being attracted to bad boys. And I understand to being attracted to nerds. The difference is that when you settle down with a nerd, you have a better chance of not having your car repossessed. Oh, I can understand the attraction to nerds.


kathi said...

Awww, Leesa, that last paragraph made me laugh, and it's so true.

Leesa said...

kathi: the last sentence made the whole entry worthwhile.

Anonymous Boxer said...

My brother: Nerd. I used to walk 10 feet in front of him on the way into High School... I didn't want anyone to know he was my brother, despite the fact that it was a small school and EVERYONE knew he was my brother.

20 years later at his H.S. Reunion; he wrote one of the most popular software programs in the world and the rest... well, you said it best.

Me? Wishing I had followed him a little more closely.

RWA said...

Here's to the nerds - and keeping their significant other's car payment up to date!!!

Leesa said...

boxer: wonderful story. Almost sounds like a well-crafted ad.

rwa: you have to have some values. And I value having a car. And nerds are cute, you know.

Joe said...

That's an outstanding observation, Leesa.

I'm guessing the "nerds becoming the center of attention" thing was fairly directly linked to the internet boom and resulting fortunes.

Ian Lidster said...

Many girls and women have found to their dismay that nerds can be more sexually inappropriate than 'bad boys', mainly because they don't have the experience to know what is acceptable behavior. Also, because they don't see much action, they're often hornier than hoot owls.

Anonymous Boxer said...

No, just mad I majored in Poli.Sci and he picked computer science. He tried to tell me.

richmanwisco said...

i actually took one of those courses. with the punch cards.
don't drop the stack!
fortran-watfiv was the language, btw.

Leesa said...

joe: thanks, sweetie.

ian: I think many men can be sexually inappropriate. Women too. And I did not know hoot owls were horney.

boxer: yeah, but you could have been an intern for Bill Clinton and gotten a book deal.

richman: punch cards. That's what I mean. I am not a geek/nerd and did not know the right lingo.

Prata said...

We rock. ;)

Sheen V said...

Oh Leesa! If only that were you in the picture!!

Classic Nerd said...

I think Nerdism gained a LOT more popularity and social acceptance when they (we) evolved from the black horn-rimmed glasses / slide rule / pocket protector types to the Computer Nerds. I was/am a 'tweener' - born during the 'evolution. I'm a card carrying member of the 2nd Generation of Nerds.

Part of today's social acceptance arose from the sudden need for Nerds. We could no longer be openly dissed and held in contempt by anyone - including the social elite. How gratifying it was to be in college and invited to the dormroom of the finest, most popular babes on campus - if only to help them fix their desktop computer. We became god-like in computer lab rooms where we were kissed-up to by anyone and everyone who couldn't get their lab computer unfrozen on their own.

There were some awesome friendships and alliances made during those times. Its amazing what someone with influence will offer you to prioritize fixing their problem, or the 'gratuities' that are offered for bailing someone's butt out of a major computer problem - especially if it meant helping them recover valuable data seemingly lost forever. Suddenly those with influence began sharing large chunks of that influence with their favorite Nerd. I was on a "Nerd Retainer" of sorts to some of the most powerful and influential students at a very prestigious school. I was not just a nerd - I was "The Big Nerd on Campus".

The same thing happened in corporate America as Nerds left college and started running the computer rooms of 1000's of companies across the land. Suddenly the "Bithead" in the corner - even if it was just some kid programmer - was one of the most influential persons in the meeting room - because he/she controlled the keys to the company car: the very data and systems the company ran on day to day.

To someone's point made earlier, I too was a hit at my 25-year high school reunion and certainly one of the more 'gainfully employed' given my long career in IT, 6-figure salary impressive title - then senior manager of database operations at one of the nation's foremost telecommunications companies. I was always considered the quiet, short, smart, NERDY, shy (but cute!) little guy in high school and didn't date a lot. (But I did get bullied a bit - and had lots of people wanting to copy my papers in class.) I still carry those traits to this day. I pride myself at being intentionally unpretentious and exceedingly modest and unassuming.

The difference now is that the shy guy now has confidence that comes from self actualization - and of course to your point, confidence in knowing that Nerds are now "In".

Or maybe its just that all those girls that ignored the crap out of me in high school see something there that I certainly don't wear on my sleeve. Maybe they can smell the fact that I could pay cash for the cars their ex-high-school-football-star-boyfriend-turned-husband (who used to bully me unmercifully) struggles with every month just to make payments. I bet the jock also changes his own oil, mows his own yard, and doesn't provide his ex-high-school-cheerleader-prom-queen-girlfriend-turned-wife (who often dissed me and always treated me like a leper) with weekly maid service and twice yearly trips to Maui, either.

Love your stuff, Leesa. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for giving light to us Nerds!