A Problem Defined

What is it to be a nerd?

In junior high and high school nerdiness was mostly about being unpopular while also smarter than the popular kids. If Star Quarterback, being stronger and better looking than you, fails to match your A on the chemistry test then the reason, obviously, is because you’re a nerd. Popular kids are indeed amazing but you wouldn’t expect them to out-test a nerd, would you? That would be nerdy!

In the teenage years nerdiness only existed at the intersection of smart and unpopular. There were always people both smart and popular who were not nerds. In fact, if Star Quarterback failed to match Beautiful Cheerleader’s grade on the chemistry test, he might tease her that she was becoming a nerd. Should this insult be allowed to diminish her popularity then it would indeed mean that she was becoming a nerd. To avert that catastrophe Beautiful would be compelled to tease back that, no, Star got a C because he was just stupid. Equillibrium is restored.

But what about when we’re adults? Does nerdiness continue? What would constitue a nerdy adult? Does simply knowing more stuff than those around you make you a nerd? Or do you have to keep reading and learning new stuff for knowledge to count as nerdiness?

Does staying on the leading edge of technology and gadgetry indicate nerdiness at all? Does knowing a lot about any subject make you nerdy, or only when you know a lot about particular, nerdy subjects?