A Nerd Manifesto

“Mom, your daughter’s a nerd.”

There comes a time in one’s life where one puts away their Doctor Who figures and rolls up their CardCaptor Sakura wallscroll. A time when the Battlestar Galactica DVD’s are dusted and sold online. A time when the manga is boxed away… a time when one bows either to social pressures or simply has lost interest.

Or, there is a time when one finally realizes that one is, in fact, a nerd, and rolls with it wholeheartedly. Assuming of course, that there was any question as to nerddom in the first place.

Somehow, despite having watched anime for eleven years, despite owning every single Torchwood spin-off novel, despite possessing an endless adoration for really shitty sci-fi movies, I managed to not realize that I was a nerd until recently.

I guess I should also toss in having done cosplay, having written reams of fanfiction, and, oh yeah, having an anime blog into that litany of clues as to my nerdiness. And maybe that I still love Pokemon?

Of course, I suppose this begs: what is a nerd, anyway? Although, honestly, in our fandom I think most of us can, if not exactly define it, point out examples when we see them. Or, as usually is the case, look at each other and recognize ourselves as nerds. As for more concrete terms… I personally like the second definition given on Dictionary.com:

an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

I feel it is worth mentioning that the first definition listed there seems fairly alien to me, although admittedly it may be that the first bit of it seems wholly opposed to the term ‘nerd’ as I am accustomed to from my society:

a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person.

But, actually, other than stupid, I can certainly see the other three applying, at least from the vantage point of a non-nerd. However, I do not think being “irritating”, “ineffectual”, or even “unattractive” is central to what a nerd is. Are some of us irritating? Ineffectual? Unattractive? Absolutely. But I do not think any of these traits a nerd make. That first definition I referenced, though? That a nerd makes.

At the same time, though, it is questionable if “nonsocial” is really applicable. Look at those freaking cons for anime, for video games, for comics, for science-fiction in general. All the nerds are clustering together! They’re talking to each other! And, on an even more basic level, look at the exchanges that occur between anime blogs and their readers, or between anime bloggers themselves. Perhaps not social in the traditional sense, e.g. actually interacting with others in real time, but not nonsocial, either. Some of us may be shut-ins, but a lot of those shut-ins are still interacting with others on some level.

I’ve really drifted far abroad of what I’d wanted to talk about. Honestly, I just wanted to be all “I’M A NERD, FUCK YEAH/YOU!” There’s something delightful about realizing that I am one. To this point I think my fairly average computer literacy and low interest in video games (outside of old junk like the arcade-style point-and-shoot games, a la Castlevania) that was holding me back from feeling it. But then I got an X-Files post in the mail along with the Caprica boxset (YOU WERE CANCELED, WRYYYYYY?!?!), and in the resulting excitement and attempt to fit the boxset into my bookcase, I realized, “Hmm… if I’m shifting my copy of Frankenfish to another shelf in order to fit my Caprica boxset onto it… maybe… I’m a nerd?”

And, ok, yeah, maybe the joy with which I greeted the parcel with vampire fangs in it was a bit of a hint as well. My vampire fangs for cosplaying as Megumi from Shiki next weekend at Anime Boston. That event I’ve been skimping on meals for so I can save up money to buy things like Ayu figures and MariMite mugs at. Where I will prance around with pink hair and a skirt that’s length worries me slightly, because that is how one of my favorite character dresses. And where I will take meticulous notes at some of the panels. And swoon over other people’s costumes. And tell the Media Blasters folks that I love their willingness to reference memes right at their very table. And then probably reference other memes related to their licensed properties as well.

And then I will go home and argue with other nerds like me over whether Mai-Otome or Mai-HiME was the better iteration of that franchise.

I love anime. I love Doctor Who. I own Zoids models. I had a crush on the Gundam Wing Zero. I write fanfiction and am not a 14 year old girl, nor do they contain self-inserts/Mary-Sues. My anime blog will be three years old in a month. And I consider it a massive betrayal that the BBC agreed to have Torchwood’s fourth season be a joint project with Starz.

Now, excuse me, I’m gonna go make kissy faces at my Jack Harkness figure and cry about that last bit, ’cause if there’s anything us nerds know, it’s that our fandoms are serious business.

EDIT: I feel like I should mention that I am currently hungry but can’t be bothered to go make myself some food ’cause I’d rather watch Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora/Shattered Angels instead.

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21 Responses to A Nerd Manifesto

  1. idiffer says:

    mmm, labels. oh, how we love them. not only do we categorize others, but we just have to categorize ourselves too. language and reality are further apart than you think. i think you’re exagerating if you believe anyone is truly single minded. and it is nice to characterise yourself in one little word, although simplifying your personality at the same time. but recognizing your obsession is good, congrats! next step is deciding what to do or not do about it…

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Hey, and blindly making assumptions about a person you’ve never even met is also super cool!

      • idiffer says:

        i said “if” in that one sentance. other than that nowhere near assumptions or blindness.
        last sentance is direct deduction from your definition of nerd.

      • adaywithoutme says:

        Before criticizing others’ more advanced issues of language, learn the basics… like spelling. Thanks.

  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    “I had no idea you were one of us. How does it feel to be so superior?” – Hiei, Yu Yu Hakusho

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Hmm. I’m trying to think of how to make an Eli Manning joke at this juncture.

  3. TWWK says:

    NERD. 😛

    I like your point about being non-social – I think American nerds are often quite social – to the point of being irritating, sometimes. You’re right in that western nerds (as opposed to the far east nerd brethren, hehe) are sometimes social in a “non-traditional” way. Perhaps many nerds aren’t “popular” social – either they don’t have the skills or aren’t willing to use them to socialize in a way that attracts others to them.

    Anyway, awesome post…loved it. Have fun at Anime Boston!

    • adaywithoutme says:

      If the blogosphere has demonstrated anything to me, it is that nerds are wicked good at being social by other means, so to speak. Or, shall we say, in means that prevent one from contracting cooties from one another!

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. glothelegend says:

    I’m currently bidding on a holographic Blastoise pokemon card on ebay. Case closed for me I guess.

  5. Envy says:

    Question are you going to catch up on your shiki reviews soon

  6. inushinde says:

    I must say, this post tickled me. Enough to comment on it, at any rate.
    Okay, productivity go! I too forsake basic sustenance for the good of watching anime long into the night and blogging about it.
    Also, I have a shiny Nidoking (My first level 100 pokemanz) enshrined in my wallet right in front of my ID, so I have that going for me.

    I never learned to be ashamed of my hobbies, at any rate, which I’m glad of.

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