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Why Nerds Are Unpopular

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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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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??

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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" :-)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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