December 12, 2009 / Lifestyle / 2 comments
The stereotypical nerd is intelligent but socially and physically awkward. In film and television depictions, nerds are disproportionately white males with very large glasses, braces, severe acne and pants highly lifted up. It has been suggested by some, such as linguist Mary Bucholtz, that being a nerd may be a state of being “hyperwhite” and rejecting African-American culture and slang that “cool” white children use. However, after the introduction of the Steve Urkel character on the television series Family Matters, nerds have been seen in all races and colors as well as more recently being a frequent young Asian male stereotype in North America. Portrayal of nerd girls in films such as She’s Out of Control, Welcome to the Dollhouse and She’s All That depicts that smart but nerdy women might suffer later in life if they do not focus on improving their physical attractiveness.
They typically appear either to lack confidence or to be indifferent or oblivious to the negative perceptions held of them by others, with the result that they become frequent objects of scorn, ridicule, bullying, and social isolation. Some nerds show a pronounced interest in subjects which others tend to find dull or complex and difficult to comprehend, or overly mature for their age, especially topics related to science, mathematics and technology. On the opposite end of the spectrum, nerds may show an interest in activities that are viewed by their peers as immature for their age, such as trading cards, comic books, television programs, movies, role-playing games, video games and other things relating to fantasy and science fiction. Nerds are often portrayed as physically unfit and either obese or very thin. Nerds are also sometimes portrayed as having symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder such as showing extreme interest in rules. Comparisons to Asperger syndrome are common, due to the tendency to engage in intense, specific interests and to experience difficulty in social situations.
Stereotypical nerd qualities have evolved in recent years, from awkwardness and social ostracism to a more widespread acceptance and sometimes even celebration of their abilities. This is largely attributable to the rise of the computer industry, which has allowed many “nerdy” people (most notably Bill Gates) to accumulate large fortunes and other measures of social prestige. Some measure of nerdiness is widely considered desirable, because it suggests a person who is intelligent, respectful, interesting, and able to earn a large salary. This evolution has dovetailed with waning emphasis on the social awkwardness of nerds, with more attention placed on their intelligence and academic enthusiasm.