Recently I was listening to an interview with John Hodgman on the Nerdist podcast. You can listen to it yourself here. In the interview Hardwick (we have a love/hate relationship. In that he wants me to love him, but most days I want to punch him) and Hodgman are breaking down the difference between Nerds and Hipsters. A nerd by their definition being someone who is enthusiastically interested in a thing. ANYthing. A hipster is someone who changes their interests to be counter cultural. To blatantly turn from what they once liked because it’s become too cool, so in an effort to stay ahead of the trend they change their interests. Sort of a foul weather enthusiast.
There have been a lot of things in my life that I’ve liked or continue to like that have earned me a fair amount of ridicule. I have this tendency to get very exuberant when I find something I like. Psychotically obsessive to a degree. (If psychosis has degrees) In middle school and into probably my sophomore year of high school (it continued on, but this was the brunt of it) I got psychotically obsessed with Newsies. That’s right the 1992 Disney movie musical about mostly orphaned boys selling newspapers on the streets of New York. Or rather not selling them. Mostly singing and saying they were on strike. But that’s not really the point. The point is that I rolled up my pants. I wore a newsboy cap. I carried a walking a stick. Like a stylish cane. Not like Gandalf. I made myself inherently weird. Weirder than I needed to be. And you’ll never guess what happened. I was mocked. Well, let’s be honest. I was downright ridiculed. And, okay, rightly so. But less for what I was doing or how I was doing it, and more for the choice of thing to like. My friends were fine with it. They knew I was insane.
And when Newsies made way for Goonies it wasn’t surprising I was thrilled to get a Goonies t-shirt signed by Sean Astin. You would be too. And when that made way for Lord of the Rings. I saw Fellowship no less than 5 times in the theaters.
I started eating at a different lunch table. Not because I felt I had to; I simply felt more comfortable there. Sure I paid visits to my old lunch tables, but 9 times out of 10 I was sitting at an all male table. That table of what could really only be categorized as nerds.
Currently, we live in a world where nerds are king. It’s suddenly acceptable to like Star Wars. For everyone.
But not for everyone.
I’ve taken some flack from people for emitting what seems to be a hipster vibe. A distaste for people who come late to the game. It’s not that their late to the game, though I cannot tolerate the tardy. It’s the fact that I maintain that same girl sitting at the nerd table. It’s that I’m still getting made fun of for liking the thing I like.
We’ll put Doctor Who up for example. It was on PBS when I was tiny, and Tom Baker was my first Doctor. Because things were out of order and timey wimey because of when PBS received the shows from the BBC. When the show relaunched in 2005, it wasn’t rampant on BBC America like it is now. So it wasn’t until I was home from school in 2006 that I realized what was going on. And it all came flooding back to me. And I wanted more.
One New Year’s Eve friends were over and a marathon of Doctor Who started at midnight New Year’s Day. I was done with whatever was going on because I wanted to watch. So they too were going to watch. It so happened they enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until about 6 or 7 months later that they really started watching it on their own. But the credit for introducing them was being given elsewhere, and what’s worse they were acting as though they invented it. AND that I was some sort of late to the gamer myself. As if our roles were reversed. All the while discrediting the roots of the show. The parts of it that made me love the Doctor in the first place.
Maybe that’s a poor example. Or at least a messy one.
It’s like when I see people who made fun of me for playing board games (that’s right. I used to play games. I don’t anymore) with my lunch friends, in fact playing board games. And not say, Monopoly. But Settlers of Catan or Betrayal at House on Haunted Hill or some other equally as involved game. People who mocked me until I gave it up. I gave up Risk, Lord of the Rings Risk, a very complicated game involving pirates and a roll out treasure map. Who actually still make fun of me for playing the games in high school. What’s interesting is I still managed to be vice president of our class yearly. And mostly, by the time we graduated, we all got on pretty well. All 60 of us. But to this day there’s only one person I’ll play games with, and it’s really just one game. Scrabble. I gave up on a lot of stuff I really enjoyed for the sake of my emotional well-being, to not be bullied “in fun.” Including, rather regrettably, dates with some really cool guys. (something I still feel terrible about)
Did you know it’s apparently okay to be a bully so long as the people being bullied understand that you think it’s funny and that you consider it joking?
What I think is happening is not that I’m the typical hipster douche, but that I immediately put myself on the defensive. Expecting to be made fun of. What’s worse is it’s 9 times out of 10 warranted. Well, maybe 7 out of 10, but that’s a passing grade, and I think it warrants my defensive characteristics. So yes. I do turn a little douchey and hipstery when people start to talk about how great something is, as if they’ve just invented it, but I only truly become belligerent about it when I say “oh me too,” and am then emotionally slapped in the face.
Nerd on nerd violence is sad. Why should we pick on each other for being enthusiastic about the same things? Shouldn’t we be excited that for once we aren’t alone? It’s when that nerd on nerd violence comes out that I realize what a jerk some people really are.