The Definitive Nerd vs. Geek
Call a Jedi a Trekkie and just see what happens. Lightsaber to the throat, kid. There's nothing worse than being misclassified. It's just a profound statement of just how misunderstood you really are. Do your parents really understand you? Not if they're putting phasers under the Christmas tree, they don't. The same is true for Nerds and Geeks. No nerd calculates so hard, gets such perfect grades, to be called a geek. Likewise, no geek spends 3 weeks putting together the perfect steam punk ensemble to be called a nerd. Too many people use the terms “geek” and “nerd” almost interchangeably. While the key differences between the two may be relatively minor to some, they are critical to those in the know. For the uninitiated, it's time to find out makes a nerd a nerd and a geek a geek.
The term nerd first came about in the 1950's when suspenders, pocket protectors, and badly taped horn rimmed glasses were all the rage. “Nerd” first appeared in print in Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo. “... A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too! “ However, the meaning is a little unclear. Other sources claim it's an off shoot of nert (meaning nuts), knurd (drunk spelled backwards), and also gnurd (hmmm... could it be related to gnards of all things).
But despite its origin, Nerd has taken on a meaning of its own. In the world of Nerds and Geeks, perhaps the Nerd is the more cerebral of the two. If a nerd is anti-social it is merely because they're studying far too hard. Calculus, Science, straight A's: these are the things nerds are made of. They do enjoy a good calculator joke from time to time (6922251 x 8), but will forever be marked by their need to achieve. Some say nerds lack any sort of social development skills, however, this is simply untrue, a nerd just does not care to develop social skills. The frame of thought is if they make enough money, who needs to be socialized? Nerds are raw brain power at its finest.
Famous Nerds: Bill Gates, Steven Hawking, Al Gore (he invented nerds), Ben Stein
If nerds are almost soulless computation, geeks are their free-spirited counterparts. The geek is the nerd's inner freak... literally. The term geek comes from carnival sideshows, the wild man who bites heads off of chickens and such. Something far more primal than today's modern geeks. Geeks are now unilaterally almost always associated with fandom. If geeks are better socialized than nerds, it is only because they've devoted their lives to a piece of pop culture that happens to have other like-minded geeks also devoted to it. The average geek gets pretty solid B minus grades, but can repeat every line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail verbatim. Comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, Sci-Fi, Cosplay: these are the tools of the geek.
Society has even seen a rise in geek subculture with the geek chic or faux geeks as the case may be. A strange blend of Emo and techie, the faux geek manages to impress girls with his iPod while having little to no knowledge of the inner workings of Dr. Who. While, a faux geek may be tolerable to hang out with, DO NOT bring them to trivia night. They will be little help.
Famous Geeks: Weird Al Yankovic, Tina Fey, Seth Green, Wil Wheaton
Can Nerds and Geeks Get Along?
The reality is there are no sides. While some gravitate toward one side or the other, most of us fall into a murky area in between. Are we dorks? Spazes? Dweebs? Goons? I myself would probably be some breed of geeky dork. The point is “Geeks” and “Nerds” are not simple labels. Get to know your geek or nerd, find out their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, what kind of fan fiction they write (that's a trick question, if they answer anything then they're a geek). And once you find these out, then and only then can you feel free to poor their chocolate milk over their head and yell, “NERD!” as loud as you can.
Nerd/Geek Math Cheat Sheet
Nerd > Geek ≥ Dork
Geek ≥ Nerd > Dork
Nerd > Dork > Geek
Proximity to Sarah Michelle Geller
Geek > Dork > Nerd
Penis Size in Online Erotica
Nerd > Geek > Dork > Jock (I wonder who writes these?)
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