A term “nerd” is a colloquialism that is widely used nowadays, especially by the young generation. Despite of the fact that it has rather a negative connotation, there are many evidences of people who were referred as “nerds”, but became famous and successful.
To begin, we should examine all the definitions of the following term in order to better understand its possible denotation and connotation meanings. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a nerd refers to a foolish person who is boring, and is focused mainly on his or her studies. The similar meaning of this word is given by the urban dictionary, which denotes a ‘nerd’ as a label used to mark a person who is smart, but socially inadequate (Urban Dictionary). However, Oxford dictionary also gives a secondary meaning of the word, and claims that it can be used to signify a person who has an expertise in a particular technical or scientific field, for example, a computer nerd. The word “nerd” has been in a common usage in the USA since the 1950s, but its origin and genuine meaning are still unknown (Oxford Dictionaries). The term is often associated with other colloquialisms such as a geek or a dork; however these notions may be differentiated sometimes.
It must be said, “Nerd” is a rather stereotypical term, which bounds with the numerous social preconceptions. Regarding the social perspective, the term “nerd” usually refers to the individuals that are smart and overly intellectual, but lack social and communication skills. They prefer to spend their leisure time doing some unpopular and sometimes even strange activities; therefore they usually ignore the mainstream activities such as practicing sport or chilling out at the parties. Their hobbies are usually closely connected with the topics of fiction or fantasy, or with the high technologies. They are also believed to be the avid readers of the comic books or big fans of some computer games. Nerds are not really interested in fashion tendencies; therefore, they are often described as outmoded and unattractive. In addition, the round-framed glasses are seen as an important attribute of an image of a real “nerd”.
From my own perspective, a term “nerd” has rather a negative than a positive meaning. For the most part, I believe, it is a result of the widespread social constructs and preconceptions. Still, it is difficult to define one particular meaning of this notion, as a term “nerd” itself is controversial. From one side, an individual referred as a nerd is supposed to be intelligent and educated, which undoubtedly is a great advantage. On the other hand, smart people are often believed to be boring and even awkward, because they usually lack social skills and knowledge of many issues that serve as a basis for the usual informal interaction. It seems to me, this word is used mostly by the young people as long as they are more prone to bully others, especially during the school years. A confrontation between those who have better performance at school and those who belong to the popular cliques has already become a common feature in our society.
Children referred as the nerds at school or university are believed to become later the scientists, IT specialists, software programmers or be involved in some other kind of job that calls for the high intellectual capacities. They may also be seen as the prospective inventors. Actually, it seems reasonable regarding the number of famous people who has been referred as the “nerds”. For example, Tom Anderson, founder of well-known MySpace, Jack Dorsey, a creator of another top social media site known as Twitter, and finally Mark Zuckenberg, a developer of the Facebook social network, are often referred as “nerds” (Berliner). Besides, so-called “nerds” include a creator of the iPod, iPad and iPhone Steve Jobs, and probably the most famous nerd in the world Bill Gates, who has founded Microsoft and for a long time has been a richest man in the world (“The World’s Most Famous Nerds”).
An image of a nerd is widely used in the mass-media industry, especially by the TV shows and filmmakers. For example, a TV show “The Big Bang Theory”, one of the most popular TV series, tells a story of four nerdy friends, who have extraordinary intellectual capacities, but fail to fit the society (Chuck, Praddy). The storyline itself deals with their constant failed attempts to start a romantic affair with beautiful girls and to conform the common social beliefs of how to be cool. Interestingly, each of four friends is described as a different specific type of a nerd. Two roommates Leonard and Sheldon are equally smart, but Sheldon is a specific type of a misanthropic nerd that expresses constantly an implacable hatred to everything related to the down-to-earth philistines, and suggests himself as the smartest man on the Earth. They make a close-bond clique with other genius nerds, an astrophysicist Raj and an aerospace engineer Howard. Although the TV show is aimed to be comic, the four main characters may be seen as a clear reflection of the most notable features of what is called “nerdy”.
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To conclude, a term “nerd” itself has a rather negative meaning. For the most part, it is a result of the social constructs and preconceptions, as the term is often used to denote a person that is overly smart, but is boring and uninteresting. Still, there are numerous evidences that people who are often referred as the “nerds” have reached a great success and became famous. Many of them became inventors, IT developers or have done some other significant contributions. Finally, an image of a “nerd” is often used in the modern mass-media, especially by the television shows and filmmakers.