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  • #2188956

    Why Nerds Are Unpopular

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    by gralfus ·

    http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

    I thought this article was well written and hit many of the issues common to life in public school. My favorite quote from the article is “Kids are sent off to spend six years memorizing meaningless facts in a world ruled by a caste of giants who run after an oblong brown ball, as if this were the most natural thing in the world. And if they balk at this surreal cocktail, they’re called misfits.”

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    • #3060832

      that’s very interesting

      by itgirli ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I don’t know what I was. I wasn’t a ‘tard and I wasn’t popular. I guess I was a freak/geek.

      • #3060826

        strata

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to that’s very interesting

        I was a band geek. Computers only hit our school during my last year and there was only one – a Commodore PET.

        I was also a camera club geek (president one year), Yearbook geek (photo editor), drama club etc. I actually earned a school letter for participation.

        I was popular in my own circle. The athletes liked me cause I took pictures of them. One of them wisely restrained me when someone tried to provoke me into a fight. The straight A kids kinda knew I could be one if I tried.

        From my experience there were different levels of geek – the lowest being the AV people, who had a room of their own and stayed away from other humans.

        James

      • #3060812

        I guess I was a freak (sort of)

        by surflover ·

        In reply to that’s very interesting

        I went to an experimental public school called GLM (graduated learning method) where you learned at your own pace… (no “teachers”, we had “mentors)… you completed 5 required “packets” in math, history, english, science, geography and social studies each week, and with whatever extra time you had at glm, you did extra packets in those and othe subjects (you spent 1/2 there and 1/2 day at the regular school each day)… The other half of the day was Phys. ed., art and music…

        I was good at the studies, but liked the social interaction at the regular school better… played a lot of sports, was in a rock band, got in a lot of trouble…

        basically had a pretty good time :^O

    • #3060821

      Reply from a geek

      by master3bs ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I was more of a nerd than a geek; although the distinction was subtle enough that few of the “in crowd” could tell the difference.

      For most of school I didn’t really care that I wasn’t “popular” although I did care about rejection.

      Social skills mystified me. But eventually I began branching out; music, drama, sports, etc. The more practice I got at expressing myself the better I was at it. Eventually, without me even realizing it at first, I became quite popular. Everyone knew me and most of them liked me.

      And I found that while I could get along with them now, I still wasn’t hanging with the most popular kids; because we still didn’t have all that in common.

    • #3060810

      I was a burn out/geek

      by jmgarvin ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I hung out with the “burn out” crowd because they were the only ones who seemed to realize high school was a caste strutured based of stupidity.

      On that note:
      I had this huge friend. He looked like your typical Harley rider. He was about 6’5″ tall and probably about 300lbs (mostly muscle)…He turned into my personal body guard. If anybody messed with me, he would find them and beat them up…The jocks learned not to mess with either of us and it worked out pretty well.

      ‘Course this same guy was hanging out at my house and he gets a call from his mom…what do I hear come out of his mouth but, “Aw Mom…” Classic!

    • #3060805

      Late to the Nerd Party

      by dmambo ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      For most of my secondary school life, I was one of the “middle-class” the article mentions. In Junior High in particular, I picked on nerds. I was a little dude, but after being tormented by 3 older brothers my whole life, I had mad picking-on skills and a high tolerence for pain in case anything went wrong.

      In HS, I became a marginally better person, but still felt some contempt for the geek crowd, as I definately had 2nd tier grades. And overall, I loved my HS years.

      When I hit college, Georgia Tech, a nerd bastion, I saw the value of geekdom. I guess there was a nugget in me all along. I realized that I had to work harder than most to qualify, but I got by. Now, I’m stuck on the fringes of both worlds. I never read Tolkien, but I’m not too good at small-talk at parties, either. As I raise my kids, I try to point out that I’m not proud of giving Gordie McKenzie those wedgies after school, and it pains me to think how ashamed I would feel if I ran into him now.

      What the article did not discuss much was how to help kids see past the 6 or so years of secondary school (that’s half a life away) and how to revel in their lives despite those around them with nothing better to do than trip them as they walk down the hall. Any sugestions??

      • #3060795

        Yeah Mambo

        by surflover ·

        In reply to Late to the Nerd Party

        I was one of the guys that you tripped through secondary school (or someone just like you), and I would wager that if we met (or the guy who was your clone at my school), we’d just laugh about how stupid we all were and become friends…

        Most of those on the recieving end just wanted to be accepted, and weren’t… your latent pain, is a display of your understanding of the wrong… and it is no match for the forgiveness that most of us posess toward those who did the tripping if they would have just taken a little time to find out who we were…

        BTW: no condemnation at all… we’ve all done our share of things that would be down right “dispicable” 🙂

        • #3060789

          And I had some great teachers

          by dmambo ·

          In reply to Yeah Mambo

          As I said three very creative older brothers. They don’t seem to harbor any shame for how they twisted me up. 😀 But these days, I love ’em all.

      • #3060777

        Support

        by gralfus ·

        In reply to Late to the Nerd Party

        Like the writer suggested, it can be difficult to reach kids with the message. But since popular media reaches them daily, that may be the best avenue. My wife has helped a few of her coworkers to get their kids tested for IQ and they were wonderfully surprised to learn the kids weren’t suffering from A.D.D., but were really gifted – and extremely bored with public school.

        I was blessed with an attitude that I didn’t really care what others thought about me, as long as they left me alone. But I have found others that were just devastated by the ridicule they faced daily, though they turned out to be geniuses later in life.

        There are gifted childrens programs available to help those who really are gifted to not only get the education they need, but learn to deal well with other people. (However, just because they are gifted doesn’t make them nice people. I dealt with a couple recently that were outright brats.)

    • #3060799

      Hooray for Sputnik

      by dc guy ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      It was great being in high school in the late 1950s. The Russians were winning the Space Race and every red-blooded American wanted to beat the commies. Since that required being good at science and math, most red-blooded Americans couldn’t actually participate. But they thought those of us who could were their saviors.

      Math majors got dates. Everybody in the school went to the Science Fair and cheered for the winners as if they were star athletes.

      It was a great era.

    • #3060724

      Words are not enough

      by ldyosng ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      to describe how miserable I was in school. From grade 2 through grade 12. I was smart, skinny, underdevloped, freckel-faced with no social skills and poorly fitting, out-of-style, often home-made clothes. Oh, and I was pideon-toed and wore corrective shoes. I was hit, called names, had chairs pulled out from under me, taunted, teased, and shunned. Reading and learning were my refuge. It was the one thing I could get right and be validated for – via report card. School sucked. Information doesn’t care what I look like.

      • #3044586

        Empathy

        by gralfus ·

        In reply to Words are not enough

        Here is a quote that expresses the heart of what you went through:

        “In my childhood, I never fit in with cliques at school. I was not sports oriented, so I didn?t fit in with the jocks. I was not bubbly and cute, so I didn?t fit in with the social butterflies. My family didn?t have wealth, so I didn?t fit in with the rich kids. I wasn?t a druggie or into heavy metal music, so I didn?t fit in there either. There always seemed to be a couple of kids I could play with, who also didn?t fit in. But another aspect of not fitting in was that those who *did* fit in behaved like they came from the novel ?Lord of the Flies? (appropriately named after the devil himself). Shunning, insults, hatred, sneering, vileness, intimidation, and violence were commonly directed at me. Remember, I had not done anything to them, I just didn?t fit in. I was quiet and shy, and that made me an easy target in the Darwinian pecking order. My classmates would go out of their way to make my life hell because they enjoyed doing so.

        I could never understand why they wanted to do this to me. I just wanted to be left alone, or to play in peace without having a bunch of trolls harassing me over nothing. ?Where do you get your clothes ? Goodwill?? ?Why don?t you ever talk?? ?Hey zitface, why don?t you take a shower?? ?Ugh, he shooting pus at me!? Phone calls from girls being prompted by their jock boyfriends. I won?t go into what they said. Suffice to say, each day brought new levels of vileness and cruelty. Apparently the kids who murdered their classmates at Columbine went through similar harassment; they just chose to react differently than I did. I became a believer in Jesus around 7th grade, but was not going to any church. I took him at his word when he said ?turn the other cheek?, so I did. Occasionally, the trolls would ask me why I didn?t fight back. I would usually just smile at them, because they should already know why. They?d heard the words of Jesus before. Besides, that wasn?t really the right question. The right question was, ?Why are you harassing me in the first place??

        • #3044511

          I thought Columbine was a wake-up call …

          by too old for it ·

          In reply to Empathy

          … to school administrators across the United States to curb the emotional violence committed by the jock-ocracy …

          (never mind)

        • #3046691

          HA!

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to I thought Columbine was a wake-up call …

          Na, the rich kids and jocks will continue to get a free pass through high school, and then become nothings in “real” life.

          It seems the nerds rule the world now, for without our technology, there would be no world.

        • #3046741

          Similar experiences myself.

          by sjohnson175 ·

          In reply to Empathy

          But I’m not so kind to the Columbine killers. They’re no better than the persecuters because they failed to cope.

          My mom’s advice of “the best revenge is living well” stuck and has paid dividends.

          But I would contend that the same crap from high school described in the article continues in a more distilled form in adult life (think PHB). Particularly in the South and on internet forums.

        • #3046503

          Columbine Martyrs

          by too old for it ·

          In reply to Empathy

          There, but for the grace of God (and the opinion at the time that my tormenters were not woth the price of even cheap ammo) …

        • #3046435

          No sense of moderation

          by dmambo ·

          In reply to Empathy

          Today, it seems, there isn’t the sense that things might get taken too far. As I said earlier, I sometimes picked on other kids, but it wasn’t a day-in, day-out practice, and I did not see that unrelenting bullying go on with others, either. By the same token, when those being picked on were able to extract some measure of revenge, it wasn’t extreme. Maybe soaping car windows or posting embarassing material on a locker. Neither case was carried to the extreme. This was in a “typical” middle-class suburb of a medium size city.

          Have things changed that much over the past 30 years? Did we have more perspective back then, even at a young age? Or am I being naive?

        • #3046422

          A bully sees it as a sport now

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to No sense of moderation

          Those that are seen as “weak” or “less” are picked on.

          I went to a rich kid school and I wasn’t a rich kid. I was a smart, easy going, idealist that found out the rich kids caught the breaks while I was always being shoved into lesser courses because the courses I should have been taking were “full.” Guess who got first pick?

          The bullies were the worst because they never had any issues. I was jumped on the way to work one day and I was in a fight with 3 bullies. I really hurt one of the bullies during the fight and *I* was pulled for beating them up!! What is that?

          My point? The administration doesn’t punish those that need to be punished, so they keep on taking it one step futher. Eventually someone will get hurt. What happened is that the kids at Columbine were tortured by the bullies. The big question still hasn’t been asked: “Why were the bullies allowed to act in such a manner?”

        • #3045323

          Egos

          by ozi eagle ·

          In reply to A bully sees it as a sport now

          Hi,

          By reprimanding kids, or, heaven forbid, punishing them, we might bruise their overinflated egos. Mustn’t do this!!!

        • #3045188

          I know what you mean.

          by stress junkie ·

          In reply to A bully sees it as a sport now

          I didn’t have any trouble in high school. The student body were all from mostly blue collar families and I think that we were all treated fairly by the school staff. Everyone got along. Even the freaks and the jocks were buddies.

          On the other hand I lived in a generally affluent town, although my family wasn’t affluent. One year I was teaching 6th grade Sunday school. One day near the end of the year some of the boys were causing a lot of noise. I could see which one was starting the whole thing. I went over to him, picked him up, and carried him to the front of the class where he sat in a seat facing away from everyone. The next year the church didn’t require my services teaching Sunday school. I think that the two things are related.

        • #3045324

          Deprived

          by ozi eagle ·

          In reply to No sense of moderation

          Hi,

          We were “deprived” of such wonderfully social training tools, like Doom and Wolfenstein.

    • #3060667

      aww it fits

      by jaqui ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I got kicked out of english class..for reading.
      the football team wanted me to join up. ( not interested thanks, I’ll hurt someone )
      the bully type stopped bothering me afer I put my head through gymnaseum wall in middle of a game, and just kept on going. [ see why I said I would hurt someone ]

      aced tests, yet never studied.
      I was one of the best known, and least popular kids in school.
      for a three week period, I was also the only person in the school talking with the best looking girl in the school.
      [ who cares what religion she is [ jehovah’s witness ] she isn’t pushing it on me and boy is she hot. ]

      on first exposure to polynomial quadratic equations in algebra, I solved the example in my head in 3 minutes, without having even looked at the text on the subject.

      I could have fit into any group, just didn’t care enough to try to.

    • #3046531

      I knew a guy…

      by fonken monken uk ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      who’d I’d consdier a geek, though my definitions of nerd/geek are a bit blurred. IT equipment isn’t conpulsory in one of those definitions.

      Anyway, I knew a guy who was a professor of Mathematics. I knew him from Tai Chi class when I was at uni. Total mathematician, maths was his life. He was unpopular, people were’nt to keen to partner up with him. why? Well, because maths was his life, there wasn’t much time for simple things like…LIKE WASHING REGULARLY!

      Nice guy, but you couldn’t get near enough to him to tell him how bad he smelled. And he cycled to class. That just got him warmed up.

    • #3046444

      I am not real sure what catergory I fell into…

      by anykey??? ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      My school had a very structured clique matrix, but I was kind of a free radical that blurred those lines.The clique matrix foundation was first based on money then popularity.The money came from parents and popularity was directly related to sports performance.

      I came from a middle class family,my dad was/is a machinist/industrial machine mechanic mom just took jobs to make money.I didnt fit into the top cliques because of money or popularity,I was kind of a nerd because of the honors classes I took, but I was able to change my standing in the high school community.

      I will explain and then see if you guys can tell me where I fit.

      Long story short as a freshman I kicked the crap outta 3 of the most popular guys in my highschool while at school.I talked my way out of suspension and convinced the school admins that those 3 needed suspended.After that day I was known as Mr.Anykey??? my most of the admins at the school.

      I helped mentor the LD kids on occasion and tried to help them as best I could,I ran with pretty much all the different cliqus at my school for 4 years and no one ever even thought to call me out on it.

      I was no longer just a nerd I was a HUGE SCARY A$$ nerd with a don’t take shit from ANYBODY attitude and a reputation to back it up, and with this reputation I was able to walk up to the top of the popularity food chain and claim the crown if I felt it necessary to remind everyone of who MR.Anykey was.

      I think it is all about attitude, you can go from the bottom to the top it with the right attitude

    • #3116152

      Resentment

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I find many non-IT people hate the NERDS is the
      simple fact that they can walk into your house,
      spend 15 minutes diagnosing and fixing a problem
      with their computer that they have to pay the
      minimum charges and still have half an hour to
      spare.
      I get it all the time.
      One hour minimum show up at $125. and $105
      per hour thereafter. Parts at cost plus 30%.
      A total failure can be back up in that hour
      but it’s still not the same. I get resentment
      over the phone. And we have the lowest prices
      and the best batting average.

    • #3114620

      I was never unpopular

      by jck ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      In fact, everyone at my school loved me. I was the big, shy, glasses-wearing, didn’t-care-how-I-dressed geek.

      Even the girls liked me, although it was never in the way I wanted…hahaha ]:)

    • #3114512

      Hey!

      by cp7212 ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      I chased that oblong brown ball for two years in high school. Well, guys carrying the oblong brown ball. Defensive tackle, or as I called it, kill the man with the ball. I also chased the one covered with horsehide and stitches for a year.

      My first “computer” was an Apple II+ with a whopping 48K of memory. I was a jock but I dabbled in computers, too. I always wondered why 98% of the people that are in computers/IT
      are “geeky”. It’s pretty prevalent in my company too.

      When I interned for school, the business I was in took care of a small VPN in a doctor’s office. While in school, I bounced for extra money. One night the doctor came into the club and he couldn’t believe I was bouncing. He said you don’t usually see brain and brawn. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be derogatory, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was.

      When I introduce myself as IS, people look at me funny because I think they expect a different “profile”. It seems like the world views small, geeky people as smart and big, brawny people as dumb. What a world…..Democrat/Republican, corporate/tree hugger, Catholic/Christian, American/Canadian, and that’s just some of the ones I’ve seen on TechRepublic.

      Sign me, black sheep of IT

    • #3116910

      geek’s in high school

      by geekmtl ·

      In reply to Why Nerds Are Unpopular

      in high school i was a techno geek and it was ok in fact all the popular kids always whanted my help in fact since it was a private school there were a lot of rich kids and i made a whole lot of money off of them by charging them for things like backup……it was ok .

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