“Neektopia” definition here.
I want this website to be a repository for nerdy/geeky/neekly news, reviews, and toed shoes. No, I lied about the shoes. Those Vibram FiveFingers things are pretty strange…
What is this strange concept…a “neek?”
“Neek” is a portmanteau of the words “nerd” and “geek.”
It has the unintentional, secondary advantage of sounding somewhat like the word “unique.”
I came across the strange relationship between the two ideas (nerd-dom and geek-dom) when attempting to define myself – an intellectually minded person with interests in various franchises, as well as mathematics and the sciences. I’m the kind of person who teaches themselves quantum mechanics over the summer just for fun, and have self-labeled as a nerd for as long as I can remember. However, after I had been branded as both a “nerd” and a “geek” by those around me enough times, I set out to discover exactly what those two very awkward-sounding words meant.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a nerd is “1: an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; 2: especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.” I suppose the second definition applies…
Let’s try the Oxford US English Dictionary Online: “a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious; a single-minded expert in a particular technical field.” To be “boringly studious” is incontheivable! Also, what’s up with the attitude that restricting yourself to one area of study is the only way to be successful? I pride myself upon being a Renaissance hominid. As Greek historian and general Thucydides wrote,
“The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.”
Or, as Robert A. Heinlein put it in Time Enough for Love,
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
Let’s move on to “geek.” Merriam-Webster Online has another gem to offer us: “1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake.” Um…no. Sounds like a very fulfilling job, but…no. “2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked.” Sounds rather like the same dictionary’s definition of “nerd.” This is also the Oxford US English Dictionary Online’s definition of “geek”…minus the part about being intellectual. Apparently the writers of this dictionary wish to disseminate the idea that a geek is simply an unfashionable person. Anyway…back to Merriam-Webster. “3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity.” I think that this last one is most accurate a definition for both “nerd” and “geek” without “especially in a technological field or activity.” There are plenty of self-dubbed Star Trek geeks, or music geeks, or even sports geeks (yes, they do exist). So, basically what Merriam-Webster is telling us is that someone who is accused of being (or labels themselves as) one of these two negatively connoted nouns is really being called nothing more than an enthusiast.
This brings me to the person I’ve been wanting to quote this whole time: Vlogbrother John Green. By virtue of being a really smart guy, he’s said a bunch of really smart stuff, and of all the intelligent and intelligible (there is a difference, and not a trivial one) opinions he holds regarding this matter, I think that this one really says it all.
“…nerds like us [referring to himself and his brother, Hank, the other Vlogbrother] are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. We don’t have to be like, ‘Oh yeah, that purse is okay’ or like, ‘Yeah, I like that band’s early stuff.’ Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself-love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, ‘You like stuff’, which is just not a good insult at all, like ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness.’ ”
John, I agree completely.
So, what I’ve taken a ridiculously long time to say:
A) The words “nerd” and “geek” refer to pretty much the same thing – a person who likes stuff. Therefore, because I want to appeal to those who refer to themselves as either/or, and thusly this blog will be known…as NeekTopia!
C) So, in the words of John and Hank Green: Don’t forget to be awesome!