The Big Picture: Brainiacs: The Once & Future Nerds

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Brainiacs: The Once & Future Nerds

MovieBob takes us back to the dawn of the nerd.

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I don't remember ever being called a nerd, though I can't remember a time when I didn't fit the mold of one.
I was also a metal head and that's where I got most of my jock hate circa 1986-1990.

I'm socially challenged, but I don't see myself as smart, so I guess I'm some kind of nerd hybrid, not fully qualified to be a nerd, but definitely not a jock either.

Wellll I have Asbergers so that's probably true. Kinda thought the two were synonymous already.

I sort of liked how Yahtzee described a nerd as a person that fixates on one (or few) specific things and either becomes very skilled in it or very knowledgeable on the subject(s). Then I realised that does sound a lot like Aspergers syndrome.

Could be a tough call there. Sheldon on TBBT for example fits pretty much all the definitions of what makes somebody a high-functioning autistic or Aspergian (unsure of that's a word, sure I heard it somewhere) but Jim Parsons and Chuck Loore swear they had not heard of it before making the character.

You definitely can safely say that most nerds in pop culture could very well be considered well off. I mean sure, most are stereotypes to varying degrees like they still live at home in their late 20s despite obviously making enough money or are socially awkward, but most tend to be very skilled in one or more fields of science. Heck, I'm surprised there aren't more millionaire characters that just don't care to flaunt it.

Oooooh i know there was gonna be so much rage and butthurt and flaming, stupid people throwing all reasonable arguments out of the way as soon as you even slightly implied that there could be a small thin link between
Autism/Aspergers and Nerds/Geeks/GeekNerdCulture.

Listen guys we might as well admit it, one of the key aspects of living with and being autistic or having aspergers (like my girlfriend ive been with for 8 years now) is that you are very easily compelled and have a knack for focusing and sometimes fixating on one particular area, be it studies or other hobbies.
The reason for this lies in that most autistic people have the two spectrums of emotion and reasoning on completely different ends and even though someone may be passionate about something doesnt mean theyre emotionally involved as long as their fixation is being catered to.

As long as you don't make the mistake of associating The Big Bang Theory with nerd culture. TBBT is to nerds as blackface is to African Americans.

I know any brony reading this or well, furry too for that matter or anyone part of a stigmatized community. Sometimes, there is no smoke without fire and there CAN actually be a small hint of truth to the whole: Lol only autistic sexually frustrated manchild neckbeards watch this show for little girls.
Yes, yes they do and no its not inherently a bad thing.

In the words of Ice Cube
"Embrace yo stereotype" - 21 Jp St.

Fixation, obession, passion, enthusiasm and autism sometimes do go hand in hand, its not that hard to accept and like i said, neither is it a bad thing. Hell some of the most brilliant minds in history had hints of autism or social problems in their days.

I think the whole stigma around autism and aspergers comes from oversimplifying a lot of the traits.

Like when you just suddenly see someone enthusiastic about anything these days or someone wanting to be creative, most comments of anything new just screams: LOL THE AUTISM IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

I have Asperger syndrome. so if what you said is true then I am a nerd. I have never seen my self as one. although I am convinced that Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory also has Asperger syndrome. he is showing all the symptoms fore that. but than again he also show all symptoms fore being a nerd but still.

i feel like this should have been two separate episodes one for the past history of the meaning of nerd and the second how we currently define the word. as for myself ive always considered myself to be a nerd im a quiet introverted person who held on to toys and child's TV shows longer then my peers appeared to. combine this with my lack of athleticism makes me feel kinda nerdy.

This was a very interesting episode, I think.
I think these are your best BigPictures Bob, when you just pick a topic that isn't certain in any way and look at it from many different angles, very interesting!

Nerd is still employed in my secondary school(which I have just finished, thank god) as a term for anyone who displays excellence and enthusiasm into a subject.

Thing is, people only used this label up until Year 10, wherein people became more accepting, and I became more assertive, and less shy.

Or it could just be me, but whilst the way that people are identified by others as "nerd" is still a bit old, I feel that I am not stereotypically a nerd: I am tall, large and quite assertive(at least in school).

In my country however(birth country, I live in the UK, but hail from Lithuania, Klaipeda) or at least the city in which I was born, nerd is replaced by "computer-fetishist"(rough translation: kompiuterastas) and is applied to anyone who spends time in front of a computer and doesn't participate in sports(seriously, I met one of my dad's friends, and when my dad said that I don't do sport, he replied with "He must be a kompiuterastas").

So for a large part of my life(I am only 16, so yes, a large part) it has been used in the traditional sense, and as an insult.

So, the nutty professor was a happy Sherlock Holmes?

Yeah i would also like Bob to possibly dive into the more gray areas of discussion that are a bit touchy feely and might just hit a bit too close to home for some viewers but, i think its better that the discussion is open than not having it simply because: Oooh some of these people who genuinely live with these conditions and dont relate to this video might find it offensive. Well who gives a flying fuck if they are offended, speak your honest thoughts on this Bob and let us know.

K.ur:
So, the nutty professor was a happy Sherlock Holmes?

Well sorta kinda, think dr House instead when thinking aspergers and autism, just like with Sherlock Holmes.
The character Rivers in To the moon, demonstrates a fairly acceptable take on autism.

M920CAIN:
I'm socially challenged, but I don't see myself as smart, so I guess I'm some kind of nerd hybrid, not fully qualified to be a nerd, but definitely not a jock either.

Socially awkward/challanged/problematics is just one of the aspects that doesnt qualify you for autistic per default.
Just like a bunch of frozen squashed tomatoes technically doesnt qualify as gazpacho

DVS BSTrD:
Wellll I have Asbergers so that's probably true. Kinda thought the two were synonymous already.

Yeah, I even have an unsubstantiated theory that nerds and even early otaku in Japan all suffered from some form of Autism (i myself have Aspergers). All of the characteristics are evident: limited social interactivity, attachment to items and trends, and in extreme cases like otaku, lack of emotional intelligence in terms of identification and how to respond.

I have a feeling that people are starting to recognize this and this is going to bring up issues of identification and boundaries between severity as Bob pointed out

I've never really self-identified as being a "nerd"/"geek". During the time I was a socially-awkward teenager I only heard it used as an insult. By the time I started coming across "proud nerd" stuff, I'd gained confidence, lost weight, started taking part in sports and had a boyfriend. So I didn't see myself as fitting that stereotype any more anyway.

I still occasionally get called a "nerd" by friends/family, but only in a teasing way.

Semantics !!! NO!!!

Monxeroth:

K.ur:
So, the nutty professor was a happy Sherlock Holmes?

Well sorta kinda, think dr House instead when thinking aspergers and autism, just like with Sherlock Holmes.
The character Rivers in To the moon, demonstrates a fairly acceptable take on autism.

I would say so, a fair amount of autistics are straightforward in terms of understanding situations and may have problems understanding the emotional side of arguments. House is a good example: he's cocky and overly sure of himself but a lot of conflict comes from him not emphasizing with emotional issues and focusing on the medical side only.

It is kind of odd to think that the first ever nerds may have been people suffering actual issues. Doing research on otaku, a lot of them were forced into their position by a harsh social structure that forces people to conform and since autism make it hard for people to conform to a lot of societal rules, it would lead to problems.

I honestly think that more research needs to be done on this potential connection to see if it bares out.

Izanagi009:

Monxeroth:

K.ur:
So, the nutty professor was a happy Sherlock Holmes?

Well sorta kinda, think dr House instead when thinking aspergers and autism, just like with Sherlock Holmes.
The character Rivers in To the moon, demonstrates a fairly acceptable take on autism.

I would say so, a fair amount of autistics are straightforward in terms of understanding situations and may have problems understanding the emotional side of arguments. House is a good example: he's cocky and overly sure of himself but a lot of conflict comes from him not emphasizing with emotional issues and focusing on the medical side only.

It is kind of odd to think that the first ever nerds may have been people suffering actual issues. Doing research on otaku, a lot of them were forced into their position by a harsh social structure that forces people to conform and since autism make it hard for people to conform to a lot of societal rules, it would lead to problems.

I honestly think that more research needs to be done on this potential connection to see if it bares out.

The strongest "cure" of autism is friendship (yeah i know cheesy as fuck but still).
I mean, yes, to some extent it is fair to say that, at younger age for example or with people with rather dormant or minor cases of autism and aspergers, may have their conditions worsened because of their social status or current state in those environments where "normal" human beings would be fine but, where a person with aspergers would take comfort in their own condition, if that makes any sense.

Ie, the more we treat people like autistic people the more prone they are to sink deeper into their condition.

MetalMagpie:
I've never really self-identified as being a "nerd"/"geek". During the time I was a socially-awkward teenager I only heard it used as an insult. By the time I started coming across "proud nerd" stuff, I'd gained confidence, lost weight, started taking part in sports and had a boyfriend. So I didn't see myself as fitting that stereotype any more anyway.

I still occasionally get called a "nerd" by friends/family, but only in a teasing way.

Well its really only an insult once both parties intend it to be and takes it as one.
Sort of, not entirely but one does have some sort of a minor self responsibility to basically...not be offended so to speak. I mean if you go look for everything that could possibly offend autistic people or for example ones own social challange-condition then yeah you would very easily be offended and become a rather sad individual.

Instead i much more prefer to take it with a pinch of salt and bask in the fact that most people who would use said terms or any degrading term for that matter either has no understanding of knowledge of the definition or merits, and most likely are probably pushing down others to make themselves seem bigger and more powerful and the one winning move is not to play.

*before watching* Ah, let's see, another "original" video by Bob about how things may be generally looking brighter for nerds brought on by possible inner complexities formed by him being bullied as a child for being one. Eh, I could do worse things in 6 minutes.
*clicks*
Well, then! That was actually one of your better videos, but then again, if you want to do a full exploration on the subject it'd probably be a bigger project along the scale of Tropes vs Women (OH GOD IT'S EXEMPLARY NOW).

If nothing else, I can attest to the word "nerd" being very difficult to trace. I spent some time trying to work out its history myself once. I came to a few different conclusions, but the word's history is nebulous enough that I'm not going to argue.

Interesting discussion, Bob, I never thought too much about the etymology of "nerd" and "geek".

Also, as a geek with Asperger's (diagnosed by a professional, thank you very much), I suppose there may be something to it... or maybe it's just a coincidence.

Monxeroth:
I know any brony reading this or well, furry too for that matter or anyone part of a stigmatized community. Sometimes, there is no smoke without fire and there CAN actually be a small hint of truth to the whole: Lol only autistic sexually frustrated manchild neckbeards watch this show for little girls.
Yes, yes they do and no its not inherently a bad thing.

In the words of Ice Cube
"Embrace yo stereotype" - 21 Jp St.

What I find really interesting is that, for all of the stereotypes, a lot of nerd culture is based around events or interests as a way to facilitate socializing. You ever play DnD alone? You enter a fandom as a way to talk to people and as a vehicle of expression. Sports geeks have their fantasy league, and there's some weird tumblr follower and facebook friend collection culture I'm just not a part of. Then there's the world of memes, which is weird. Hell gun culture has something that they describe as their Barbies.

So if nerds are associated with a spectrum disorder, then (and if you don't go completely insular) nerd culture is some grand-scale socialization therapy?

Also, hey Bob, I noticed that you just made a case that fake-geeks don't logically exist. Sneaky.

Who or what on earth is a 'brogrammer'?

Monxeroth:
I know any brony reading this or well, furry too for that matter or anyone part of a stigmatized community. Sometimes, there is no smoke without fire and there CAN actually be a small hint of truth to the whole: Lol only autistic sexually frustrated manchild neckbeards watch this show for little girls.
Yes, yes they do and no its not inherently a bad thing.

In the words of Ice Cube
"Embrace yo stereotype" - 21 Jp St.

Fixation, obession, passion, enthusiasm and autism sometimes do go hand in hand, its not that hard to accept and like i said, neither is it a bad thing. Hell some of the most brilliant minds in history had hints of autism or social problems in their days.

I think the whole stigma around autism and aspergers comes from oversimplifying a lot of the traits.

Like when you just suddenly see someone enthusiastic about anything these days or someone wanting to be creative, most comments of anything new just screams: LOL THE AUTISM IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

First, Autism and Autist/Autistic is the new "faggot", "retard". It just rolls off the tongue.

There are quite a few of Autistic bronies and whovians, and other members of a fandom. But for MLP it makes sense on a certain level. Part of being autistic is having trouble picking up on social cues. Cartoon characters express what emotions they are feeling to the nth degree, because they are cartoons and animation allows for that. This allows them to follow what is happening and have an easier time doing so. MLP being the big explosion of recent years, coupled with the show being about friends and making/maintaining friendships is something someone with autism might find appealing. That is pretty much the heart of the matter.

Man, I would also tell people there IS a difference between "nerd" and "geek", but now I'm not even sure what they actually mean or meant... or which I'd rather be called.

Since "Nerd" is now pretty much everyone, "We" aren't smarter then other people, we are the other people. "We" are the dumb brutish idiots now.
So "Nerd" is going for a full loop and turning into a derogatory term again. "Nerd" is everyone. "You are a nerd" will either totally lose all meaning or take on the meaning that you're the every man with no notable features what so ever.
"You are a nerd" makes you the greyest of the gray. Which may mean that you are one of the "Smokers" from the Michael Ende book "Momo" but that just means that you're a fan of some old franchise.
Like everyone else.

Around the end of the video, Bob started reminding me of a conversation in Mass Effect 3:

Bob/Shepard: Come on, Legion/internet, the geth/nerds are better than this!

internet/legion: No, evidently they are not.

That's...a lot of speculation there, Bob. I'm usually open to what you have to say but throwing around words like Autism Spectrum with a picture of the DSMV (which is a tad controversial atm) in the background can stir up a lot, either for good or for bad. I'm not sold on the idea of a link between autism related disorders and being a nerd/geek in the early days but it is interesting, although your main evidence being films at the time is weak. If anyone has studied this in peer-reviewed journals, I'd love to hear about it.

As for the etymology, it is interesting how it has morphed over the years. When I grew up it wasn't a good word thrown at you but I was in the middle of the movement to get it changed. Age wise at least as when nerd/geek became ok was when I was in High School, at least in my area/the internet.

Either way, I think the best message from this is label yourself the way you want to be labeled. If you think you're a geek, call yourself a geek. I considered myself a geek even though I haven't watched ST: TOS or even Babylon 5 but knowing the inner workings of a router gives me a strange sense of pride.

Wait...didn't you just address the changes in geek/nerd culture a few weeks ago? You can be down-right confusing.

Pink Gregory:
Who or what on earth is a 'brogrammer'?

In short, a "frat boy" programmer. Like so.

Now, would so enlightened individual kindly list the films that appear in MovieBob's video?

Good episode: touched on an interesting subject while not getting into the area of preachiness.

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