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Why Nerds Are Unpopular

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the half-sterile-and-half-feral dept.

Education 1535

AccordionGuy writes "Paul Graham, who's known for his writings on Lisp and other Lisp-like languages as well as his essays on combatting spam has taken a bit of a detour from his usual topics. His latest essay is one that's a little more personal and that we can all relate to: Why Nerds Are Unpopular . It's a lengthy but engaging writeup of that chamber of horrors we call high school and why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset during that stage in life. It's food for thought for those of us who've already been there, done that and been stuffed into lockers by the football team and it should give some hope to those who are going through it right now."

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What ??? Impopular, me ???? No way.... linux rocks (2, Funny)

LJPeixoto (130298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328794)

What ??? Impopular, me ???? No way.... thats totally impossible cause I Use Linux (TM) and Linux rocks !!!!

The Simpsons already solved this... (5, Funny)

BTWR (540147) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328795)

Lisa Simpson found that it was a pheromone that caused people to beat up nerds! (This effect, of course, could easily be neutralized by spraying said bully with vinegar).

I'll tell you why (1, Flamebait)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328797)

Because they are condescending assholes. Smug, superior bastards.

Ill tell you. (1)

HanzoSan (251665) | more than 11 years ago | (#5329001)

Because nerds dont WANT to be popular. What advantage is there to being popular? I mean really? The more popular you are the more people hate you. You have no advantage or incentive to want to be popular. Nerds dont seek popularity because there is no value in it.

Also not all intelligent people are elitists, I think you must spend too much time at Harvard and other Ivy League schools. Intelligent people are just smart enough to know that being popular doesnt matter.

Why we are unpopular (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328804)

* We are ugly
* We stink
* FP

I wasnt one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328807)

I was pretty much a nerd but I never got beaten up or anything. I think that whole mentality has changed over the years. Everytjhing was cool between the jocks and "geeky" people ion my High School.

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328808)

First Post!

Helpful? (3, Insightful)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328809)

It's a lengthy but engaging writeup of that chamber of horrors we call high school and why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset during that stage in life. It's food for thought for those of us who've already been there, done that and been stuffed into lockers by the football team and it should give some hope to those who are going through it right now.

And I'm sure its going to do nothing but reinforce lots of negative stereotypes and Katz-style whining.

I'm a nerd - I'm a computer professional - I was an athlete in high school and I'm still active today.

People need to take a little bit of responsibility for their own lives rather than chalking everything up to "well, I'm going to get picked on because everyone else in the world is so much stupider than me."


Re:Helpful? (5, Insightful)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328901)

wait a minute... i have to take responsibility because the football team stuffed me into a locker? that sort of "blaming the victim" mentatlity has lead to some serious backlash [disastercenter.com] in the past.

Re:Helpful? (1)

Slycee (35025) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328907)

I'm a nerd - I'm a computer professional - I was an athlete in high school and I'm still active today.

Thank you for that. I'd like to add that someone who is "smart" in high school ought to be smart enough to avoid being preyed upon, oughtn't they?

Being stuffed into a locker has nothing to do with intelligence - it has to do with being "nerdy." In school, and hung out with a lot of nerdy people who were not particularly bright.

Re:Helpful? (1)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328962)

someone who is "smart" in high school ought to be smart enough to avoid being preyed upon,

why don't you try blaming the predator? by your logic, if the nerds take up arms against the football team and kill them, it's the football teams fault. is that what you're saying? or are you just biased against victims?

Re:Helpful? (0)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328995)

why don't you try blaming the predator?

Why don't you stop assuming that the tykes on the football team are predators and that their "victims" are blameless?

I seem to recall that the people who took the most shit in high school were always the whiny, elitist, "I'm-smarter-than-you" types.

Provoking a bear twice my size by poking it with a stick doesn't make me a victim when it mauls me. It makes me a fool who should have watched what he was doing.

I don't know if you personally just got a lot of wedgies over this or something, but you sure seem to have an axe to grind.


Re:Helpful? (3, Insightful)

Lothar (9453) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328970)

Quote from the article:
> Few smart kids can spare the attention that popularity requires. Unless they happen to be very good looking, or great natural athletes, or have older siblings who are popular, they'll tend to become nerds.

It doesn't say that you can't be both - however it seems to be the fact that the majority of ners doesn't fall into both.

As for getting picked on. Once it starts it is very hard to stop for as long as you are in that place ( school ). One tends to be branded forever.

Re:Helpful? (1)

xTown (94562) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328981)

I know that not everyone can do this, but what I did was to pick the biggest one and beat the crap out of him. I just took a book to his head one day. It sounds like a cliche, but nobody touched me after that, and the teacher who caught me doing it was the nerdy science teacher. All he said was "Good job. Just don't let me catch you again."

Embarressing (5, Funny)

DChristensen (98850) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328811)

It sucks still being stuffed in the lockers byt the football team, particularly because I'm the principal of the high school.

Re:Embarressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328982)

What is more embarrassing is that you misspelled embarrassing, being the person that is responsible for the education of today's youth!

Maybe the Slashdot editors went to your High School...this would explain a lot.

if (currentstory.author == MICHEAL) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328813)

printf("I hate michel");

Micheal's and j(o|oh|ho)n's, why ARE they so lame!

Thanks to BG.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328814)

Thanks to Bill Gates, and the numerous (though short-lived) dot-com millionaires, being a nerd isn't the social crime it once was.

(if you mod me down, you're in denial).

elitism... (3, Insightful)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328815)

nerds feel it necessary to lord their supposedly superior intellect over others... they do it in their inner circles as well. This is the reason they get stuffed in lockers... You may have a bigger brain, but they got bigger arms... And don't give me that innocence crap, you KNOW you're guilty of looking down your nose at whomever because you thought you were smarter than they....

Re:elitism... (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328890)

It's not that simple - the elitism comes from the fact that they get stuffed into lockers. It's a cycle, and I could really say where it started. In my case, it wasn't so much intellectual elitism so much as a refusal to participate in normal social circles - I preferred to sit in the library and read. Like anyone who doesn't fit the norm. In high school, I was more socially mature and fit in better, and I didn't really have any trouble.

Re:elitism... (1)

MrEd (60684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328933)

You may have a bigger brain, but they got bigger arms...

I disagree. You (not you in particular, #470187) may be better at solving technical problems or memorizing minutae. Others with equally 'big' brains may be good at being social, motivating people, 'reading' people, scamming people, persuading people (often the same thing!) and will get a lot further in the real world where how you communicate and who you know can be more important than what you know.

I am a nerd, I've got an honors engineering degree, but am beginning to accept that I'm a behind-the-scenes type and am not going to have an easy time in business. OK by me but certainly deflates lots of those silly arguments I propped up my ego with in high school.

Re:elitism... (4, Insightful)

Xthlc (20317) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328992)

I agree. I think that, while there is often a strong one-way correlation between nerds and smart people, the inverse is not necessarily true.

Some of the smartest people in my high school were NOT nerds. True, they didn't take some of the ridiculous college math courses that we nerds did. However they did get straight-As and took AP courses in the natural sciences, history, calculus, languages, etc. They were usually involved in some kind of varsity sport that had a low jock-factor (like tennis or soccer). While they were popular, they seemed to float above the social hierarchy, never taking part in the beatings or humiliation but never exactly seeking a nerd with whom to hang out. They generally got ridiculous scores on their SATs and went on to the Ivy League.

They were popular because they weren't pretentious, they were self-confident, and they knew how to talk to somebody without scaring or boring the shit out of them. Which none of us geeks quite had a handle on yet . . .

Laughing Last (-1, Flamebait)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328820)

Het, when I get out of college, odds are there will be jobs of 50k and up just waiting for me, while the jocks are slaving away at some factory somewhere, or still asking if they want fries with that, they can be as cruel as they would like, just gives me more things to chuckle about when things in my life go right.

That and I have a girlfriend and they don't... also a plus!

(yes, a geek with a girlfriend.. please don't revoke my geek license)

Re:Laughing Last (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328848)

Jocks don't need girlfriends, because beautiful girls will have sex with them without requiring any emotional investment.

Re:Laughing Last (5, Insightful)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328854)

Het, when I get out of college, odds are there will be jobs of 50k and up just waiting for me, while the jocks are slaving away at some factory somewhere, or still asking if they want fries with that, they can be as cruel as they would like, just gives me more things to chuckle about when things in my life go right.

And this would be a great example of why people think geeks are a bunch of elitist assholes.


Re:Laughing Last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328873)

Like I taught my boys ... Call me NERD today, Call me BOSS tomorrow !!!

Ummmm no... (4, Interesting)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328904)

I've been in the software engineer game for over 10 years now... almost all of my collegues have either switched fields or taken a 30-40% paycut to stay in it. (Switching fields takes a paycut too btw)

the market is FIERCE now with out of work software engineers.. What makes you think your odds are so good Mr. No-Professional-Experience?
I sadly think you're in for a rude awakening once you hit the market.

Re:Laughing Last (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328911)

Yeah, too bad there are athletes who also can program computers and will have the social skills and connections to land the job before you do.

The fact that you measure your life by how poorly those around you are doing highlights your patheticness and the reason that you get beat up in school.

Re:Laughing Last (4, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328928)

Het, when I get out of college, odds are there will be jobs of 50k and up just waiting for me

Looks like you'll be doing Graduate level work at Hard Knocks U.

Why NIGGERS are unpopular (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328822)

Reports of 3 Racist Incidents Are Probed in Antelope Valley
Hate: Lancaster mayor decries the burning of a swastika into the grass at
city park after a celebration of diversity.

By CAITLIN LIU, Times Staff Writer

Authorities are investigating three hate-related incidents reported in
the Antelope Valley over the weekend.
Saturday morning, a black family in Palmdale found racial slurs and
swastikas written in chalk on the driveway of their house in the 37900 block
of Rose Marie Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department's Palmdale station. The family also discovered a slashed tire and
a slash in a car's convertible top.
That afternoon at Lancaster City Park, just after hundreds of community
members attended a picnic celebrating the community's ethnic and cultural
diversity, sheriff's deputies discovered a large swastika burned into the
grass with what appeared to be chemicals.
The swastika, measuring about 6 feet across, was found about 3 p.m.,
said Lt. Richard Lichten of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's
Lancaster station.
"I'm annoyed that it happened in the proximity of our heritage picnic,"
said Lancaster Mayor Frank C. Roberts, who called the annual event, which
offered food, prayers and performances by 18 ethnic or religious groups, "an
outpouring of love."
Roberts added that hate incidents and hate crimes are not commonplace
in the Antelope Valley. "If you look at the hate crime records, you'll find
that our hate activity statistics are lower than the rest of L.A.," Roberts
According to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, the San
Fernando Valley in 1998 had more hate crimes per capita than the Antelope
The other incident occurred at 1:50 a.m. Saturday, when a 33-year-old
white woman drove into a parking lot of a nightclub in the 45200 block of
10th Street West in Lancaster and was confronted by a large group of black
men and women, Lichten said. The woman told police that one of the women in
the parking lot shouted a racial slur at her and scratched her car with
No suspects have been arrested in any of the incidents, and authorities
said they did not know if any were related.

Not always unpopular (5, Insightful)

Vollernurd (232458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328827)

It was the cse at our school, like all other schools, that the Geeks were singled out for "special" attention. However, that attention was infrequently hostile, and if you had the wit to deal with it (a decent put-down, offer people help in classes if they asked for it, laugh at their jokes if necessary, etc.) you soon got the respect and the social acceptence that came with it.

Essentially, merely "being Geeky" was not enough to attract hostility, even from the footballers, but it was poor social skills aggravated by what the "geek" percieved as persecution.

Simply laughing it all off is usually the best way to deal with it.

It's like your parents used to say (shyeah! like /they/ knew) "Ignore them and they'll soon get bored."

Re:Not always unpopular (2, Insightful)

Blackknight (25168) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328954)

No, if you ignore them they never leave you alone. Once you wipe the floor with a couple of them they won't mess with you again.

i'm not even trying to be an ass here.... (4, Insightful)

smd4985 (203677) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328828)

but if i had a quarter for every 'popular' kid from my HS class that later served me my meals at Uno's, Bennigans, etc., I'd be one handspring treo richer.

and yes, if you haven't guessed yet, i'm a nerd ;) .

I write this message to ask your assistance: (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328833)

HELP! I'm stuffed in a locker!

For the love of God, won't somebody please come and let me out?!!!

True story: (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328956)

When I was in junior high, I was stuffed into a locker by the daugher of the superintendent of schools (she's now principal at my old highschool) and a stoner/nerd.

They tricked me into getting into the locker. No, really!

Too USA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328834)

That's so USA, in europe smarter students are usually the ones that most admire and girls/boys want.

In most european countries, being a really dumb student and just "in teen life style" results in isolation.

Re:Too USA (2)

Der Krazy Kraut (650544) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328958)

In the US, there's nothing you can visit besides "High School", right?

In Germany, there are 3 different school types to which people get assigned to after elementary school. They're called "Hauptschule" (for the really dumb people), "Realschule" (for the not so dumb but still too dumb for college type people) and "Gymnasium" for the smart ones.

So, if there are no dumbasses at your school, theres no one to beat you up. ;-)

US only phenomenon? (3, Interesting)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328841)

I'm curious if this happens all over the world or only in the states.

Can anyone who grew up outside of the US comment?

Re:US only phenomenon? (2)

fateswarm (590255) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328916)

I Greece, it is not so clear and simple. Some smart students are indeed nerds, but most of smarter students go to gym, have girl/boyfriends etc. etc.

In fact, most weak students are not at all popular, and very smart students tend to be more popular than the very weak.

There will always be some weak students that are popular, and smarter that are unpopular but the opposite is so common as well so you can't make such generalization there.

Well I mean, common, that can't be so generalized in USA as well, I can't believe all the smart are unpopular and all dumb and "stylish" popular.

Re:US only phenomenon? (-1)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328990)

Well I mean, common, that can't be so generalized in USA as well, I can't believe all the smart are unpopular and all dumb and "stylish" popular.

You are correct. Being a nerd in America is not very bad at all. However, American nerds like to pretend to be victims, just like feminists, blacks, and gays. So humor them while they whine.

Nerd are unpopular.... (1)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328846)

...because they spend waaaaay too much time navel - gazing about their time in high school. Yesh.

Relate to what? (1)

Eric Jaakkola (629263) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328847)

I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm smart enough, I'm good enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.

I can't say I read the article (0)

Oliver Newland (596957) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328855)

but I find that I, while being scholastically inclined and possibly considered a nerd, am not unpopular. Perhaps in the 60s and 70s when football and cheerleading were the only forms of American entertainment nerds were segragated against, but in the 90s and 00s, I see no such discrimination. Maybe what the author said was relevant 30 years ago, or maybe he was just trying to justify his inability to fit in with the rest of society - whatever the case, I guarantee those who haven't had recent school experience that applied to the present, this article might as well be complete fallacy in that "nerds", or intelligent people, are as equally respected as the idiot jocks or the slutty cheerleaders.

Popularity? (2, Insightful)

sandman935 (228586) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328856)

Who cares? It's been over twenty years since I graduated high school. A couple of years ago, I attended the 20th anniversary.

I learned something... I can go the rest of my entire life without ever seeing any of my classmates again and still be happy.

It's four years... After it's over, forget about them and move on.

Correcting mistakes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328858)

Oh, I was most certainly a nerd in grade school and beyond.

I do remember one occasion in fifth grade where a few of the future football jocks approached me and made fun of how well I did math.

One of them: 'The answer's not two, it's two point six eight seven nine point nine six...'

Me: 'Uh, you put two decimal points in the number. If you're going to make fun of me, you might try to do it right.'

It made them laugh even harder, and yet they not only walked away, but they didn't try to make fun of my math skills again. Somehow, I feel smug anyway.

People like to be ignorant (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328859)

People have an ingrained trait that they like to know as little as possible.

I'm sure most of the 'nerds' here have tried to explain something to someone and seen their eyes glaze over.

The majority of people who consider knowledge bad see nerds as being heritics for not resisting knowledge.

ProfQuotes [profquotes.com]

not so bad... (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328860)

Although I was the classic 'band geek' and not by any means popular, I always regarded my time in high school as at least a fun time as college was. There was tons of time to hack away on the home computer (or on the lans at school). I also enjoyed all of the chances to compete with my fellow classmates (such as in chess, track, etc.). Once in college, it was just the drudgery of "when's the next test, what's my GPA (if you actually cared), etc." and very little time to goof off (at least compared to high school).

who's sorry now (1)

NetMagi (547135) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328866)

Ever notice, the same people that picked on you in high school look up at you know?

Most of em are smart enuf to know their past is responsible for their present, and likewise with your present. .which I don't have to mention usually kix the shit outta their life / wages.

You know what you call 'em now? (3, Funny)

netringer (319831) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328867)

Comedian Paul Rodriguez:

You remember those kids in school who you called Nerds?
You know what you call 'em now?


Reminds me of the good old days... (2, Interesting)

pr0f3550r (553601) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328875)

A fellow student from my horror days relate a story to me about a incident he witnessed during one of the after school hunt and destroy mission conducted by most of the 4th, 5th and 6th grade boys where I was the target. Apparently the message of 'We are going to beat up the nerd after school today' had reached the lower classes. While following the masses he noticed some 2nd grader pounding the daylights out of a 1st grader. He asked the kid what he was doing to which he replied, 'This is the nerd, isn't it?'

weeeee (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328876)

hehehehehe guess what

pepepepepepepepepenias ====D~~

popular? me? (1)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328878)

My email and pager is blowing up with chicks that need me to fix their printer, email, etc. That makes me popular, right?

Big assumption (4, Insightful)

Longfinger (568282) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328882)

Most of us think that the reason we were so unpopular was that we were smarter than everyone else. It's much more likely that we were/are unpopular because we're socially inept. Hint: acting like you're smarter than everyone else is socially inept.

Stupid article. (1)

nebby (11637) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328884)

There are popular nerds. There are unpopular nerds. The nerds which are unpopular are condescending, arrogant, assholes who measure their self-worth by how many Linux distros they've installed and what other people say about them. The popular nerds understand that different people have different talents and flaws, and are able to be social due to their high self-esteem and lack of worry about what others think of them.

I found it fun ... (1)

GreatOgre (75402) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328887)

I got out of trouble by talking over the assistant principal's head. He was an ex-football coach that most people wouldn't want to piss-off. Somehow, I think I failed at pissing him off; I'm certain he knew that I was intentionally talking over his head, but now I wonder...

you have GOT to be kidding me (0)

Booie Paog (640418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328891)

what is this, 1982 ? i was pretty nerdy in high school, and had no problems, or felt 'persecuted' due to being smart. it's as if the world was a John Hughes movie. people get made fun of if they are smart, dumb, big, small, weak, or dopey. where i come from, being a nerd is what got me laid.

Not as Smart as You Think You Are (2, Insightful)

FatHogByTheAss (257292) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328893)

It's a lengthy but engaging writeup of that chamber of horrors we call high school and why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset during that stage in life.

The notion that you were "smarter" is absurd. The reality is that you were dumber. You got picked on because you didn't bathe, brush your teeth, and made fart jokes at every possible occasion. That doesn't make you smart, it makes you digusting, and worthy of contempt.

The smarter bears washed on occasion, and learned to carry on a conversation.

Re:Not as Smart as You Think You Are (4, Insightful)

MKalus (72765) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328975)

The smarter bears washed on occasion, and learned to carry on a conversation.

I think the problem is that "smart" the way it is mostly defined is "booksmart" and that is nothing that really just happens, anybody can be booksmart if they just put their mind to it.

I guess the big problem still is that people never really defined intelligence in the first place and this "The more intelligent people like us" makes me wanna puke mainly because this elitist thinking is why people do despise us as well, heck who wants to feel dumb? No one, and who wants to feel weak? Exactly no one again.

A little bit less telling yourself how great you are and a bit more admitting that even YOU are not perfect (despite your high IQ) would go a long way I would guess.

Of course that's all academic my HS time was hell as well.

Two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328896)

Inferiority complex.

They feel inferior to us, they hate that. Enough said.

Re:Two words... (1)

Ballsy (104411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328983)

....and you're clearly still afraid of us, as you're posting as AC. We'll find you...don't you worry...

Chicken or the Egg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328908)

I always thought that my nerdishness in high school was a result of unpopularity, as opposed to the opposite. Without parties to go to, I naturally lent myself to books and science and gadgets.

I would guess that high school clics are largely an effect of positive feedback, where brownian fluctuations in the "popularity pool" while we are young create swells and dips which then grow out of proportion due to the positive feedback effect.

Resist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328915)

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm!
Dare to make it known!

Enough fucking whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328917)

You didn't get laid in high school because you couldn't dress, spit food, were too fat/skinny, had stains on your shirt and tried to impress people with your arcane knowledge of a trivial pop-culture phenomenon. This does not make you a superior person.

Well, where to begin (1, Insightful)

gazbo (517111) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328919)

Nerds think they are superior. They think that their abilities with code and electronics elevate them above language students, artists, sportsmen. They think that the fact they use Linux makes them better than the "lusers who use Windoze".

And yet they are often socially awkward, irritating, and with little ability to talk on subjects other than computers. Their behavior towards women is much like that of a dog; they lust after them, publicly voicing their desire, and if a woman makes herself know to them on the web, they are surrounded by them like puppies taking turns on a mother's teat.

But remember, nerds are better because they can code.

They cannot see how the world works past their own needs; all the supposed freedom infringements of the DMCA, RIAA, MPAA, STFU, all boil down to "ME WANT IT FREE! ME WANT IT NOW!" like they are more important than everyone else in the world.

But that's OK, because they can code.

In the workplace they demand casual dress. They demand completely relaxed environments, with full control over operating systems, hardware (remind me why a sysadmin needs a GeForce?), software - and they don't see the hypocrisy when whinging about a "mere user" trying to do something their way rather than "the right way".

But that's OK, because they can code. In fact, that's all they can do. And that's why they are universally diliked, bullied, lonely.

Bullying (4, Interesting)

ATAMAH (578546) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328920)

Jokes aside though - a very serious matter. Kids get bullied a lot as early as primary/secondary school and often it haunts them in high school as well. I used to do volunteer work for a charitable trust that was campaigning for teenage suicide prevention. It's pretty unbeleivable how many teens end their lives because they just can't take it anymore. And don't give me this bullshit about those that pull through and "become stronger". Some maybe do, but others still receive a pretty vicious mental trauma. Who knows how will this unnecessary abuse will reflect on their adulthood ?

They smell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328922)


(iq 130) && (!geek) (2, Informative)

_am99_ (445916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328934)

Learn how to interact with people in a way that is pleasurable to them, and they will enjoy your company. It does not really matter what your IQ is. For example:

don't talk down to them
don't talk over their head
don't tell them things they do not want to know
do talk/ask about things they want to talk about
avoid being negative
be yourself, and be comfortable with yourself

why can't we just conform? (2, Insightful)

Jeff Probst (459812) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328936)

It's a lengthy but engaging writeup of that chamber of horrors we call high school and why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset during that stage in life.
that is one way to read the article and account for the horrors that some geeks go through. another is to say that if geeks are so smart, then why do they not see how to stop the torment? conform!!
  1. we can see clearly by looking at the photos on that article that the geeks look bad. get a haircut, put a smile on your face, and lose the braces for crying out loud!
  2. instead of joining the debating team and being masterful at chess - why not go to the gym, lose some weight, and join the football team. in a world where the fittest survive, i'm surprised that more geeks do not do this already.
  3. instead of watching anime and star trek, why don't we watch friends and survivor instead. at least that will give us something in common with mainstream society.

we geeks need to conform, sell-out, and fit into mainstream society if linux is to advance beyond the server.

The first sentence of the article (1)

ardmhacha (192482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328937)

When we were in junior high school, my friend Rich and I made a map of the school lunch tables according to popularity.

And I'll bet he wondered why people thought him strange :)

Thankfully..... (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328940)

...I wasn't into science or computers until college. I didn't even use a computer to any measurable degree until I was about 18. I didn't know who Carl Sagan was until I was 21. I lived the standard high school template: sports and actual academia in my freshman year, way too much health-hazardous sex and drugs in grades 10 and 11, and a senior year spent mostly at the beach. I basically wasted most of time in various art classes throughout, which were nothing but time sinks that lacked any actual work or effort (traits that I have come to love in the professional world as well).

I then attended college for computer science, landed a part time tech job at the same college within a week (which quickly turned into a full time gig after roughly a month), was introduced to Linux, and now I'm hear on Slashdot. A regular, on Slashdot. Yay Linux, it turned a perfectly normal human being into a geek.

Hmmm... maybe I had it lucky... (1)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328942)

I was fairly (ok... majorly) geeky in high school (member of computer club, math club among others, in AP classes, etc) but I never really had a problem with the classical "geek gets bullied by the jocks" or anyone else. Got a wedgie my freshman year from Football players, but everyone did on the Cross Country team... it was sort of a ritual and not really looked upon as Geek bashing. Maybe I got lucky, but I got along pretty well with all of "the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads..." I'm not saying they all considered me a "righteous dude," but I was never ostrisized for being a geek, probably because I a) never thought of myself as a geek (although I fit the description pretty well) and b) am a pretty gregarious person. I could care less if you were a jock or a chess dweeb, I'd bullshit with you either way.

Granted, there are going to be asshats in any social grouping, just don't tar everyone with the bad apple's brush.


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328944)

why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset

What a load of tripe. Being smarter is never a liability. However, here is a list of real liabilities:

- bad hygene

- bad personality

- boring lifestyle

- funny appearance

Popularity is not about being smart or dumb, it is about being interesting.

Show me someone that claims to know someone that was interesting,smart,good looking, and still jerked around HS and I will show you a liar.

From my POV... (1)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328953)

Being a nerd was a great thing..

I wasn't a total nerd (to the point where I used to get beaten up or anything like that) but I wasn't popular or anything like that.

Its pretty satisfying to see some of the people I used to take flak off at school working in pubs and stuff like that - I, by my own choice, walked into a pretty stable IT / technician job shortly after I realised that university wasn't for me..

I am now chewing through the Cisco CCNA course, and I am working in a job that I have enjoyed getting up in the morning for, every day for the past 4 years. Sure, it gets me down at times (doesnt every job?) but on the whole I think I am pretty well off!

weird thing at my high school (2, Insightful)

alexc (37361) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328955)

the strange thing about my high school was that popularity necessarily dealt with intelligence. there were kids that were popular that were smart in fact. the big thing about my high school was the way person looked and how sociable they were. i looked like a dork and i wasn't that sociable(i was very shy). that made not that popular. in fact, alot of ppl that were popular in my high school were in AP /advanced classes.

Hrm (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328959)

I'm worshipped at work, I have an awesome girlfriend (computer science major, no less), and ... umm ... I like Windows XP.

My God, I'm a pathetic loser.

It depends on how you define "nerd" (2, Interesting)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328971)

If you define it as "someone who works in a science related field" then this is hogwash.

Or if you define it as someone who is physically inept, weak, socially maladjusted, and the antithesis of just about everything that makes someone "normal"... why wouldn't nerds be despised and picked on?

I mean, we are all adults here, right? We all know that people are prone to dislike what is significantly different (especially if it proves to not be "better"). And they are willing to take action if that person is weaker than them. Humans have one of the most aggressive social dominance instinct of all animals (psychologists believing because we lack "killing" implements such as claws or rending maws). Life isn't handholding and fairness and rainbows.

Big fish eats small fish. Not a revelation. To try and reorder it as something else (nerds being "feared" for their "super intelligence") is just childish revisionism.

System error 101 (1)

Whitecloud (649593) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328973)

Some of our teachers really tried to teach us, which was all the more impressive considering the conditions they had to work under....But they were individuals swimming upstream. They couldn't fix the system.

While intelluctuals are revered/loathed in the school system by rival students, the real power is force. The school system is a reflection or microcosm of the state, and if force prevails then it will be copied as a path to success by eager young mimics.

Smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328976)

"why being smarter than the average bear is more of a liability than an asset during that stage in life."

This assosciation between being smart and being a nerd has always bothered me, because it rarely holds up. Your classical "nerd prototype" loves math, wears a pocket protector, has no muscles, wears stupid clothes and has awkward annoying conversational habits - everyone's seen "Revenge of the Nerds". The implicit assumption is that someone who loves math is smart and better at math than everyone else. But how often is this really the case?

I think that like any other social group, there are smart nerds and stupid nerds. There are smart football players and stupid ones too! The "nerd" moniker really comes from an inability to achieve balance - the pursuit of intellectual quests in neglect of crucial social and physical development. You can call the sterotypical "getting stuffed in the locker" blind teenage cruelty but personally I believe it consitutes a wake-up call: Develop your social and physical persona now, before it's too late [tvdance.com]. Long before the "Information Age", we had the concept of the "Renaissance Man" - someone who strove for balance in physical, social, scientific, and artistic pursuits. "Nerds" have lost their balance and lost their way, and if you read Katz's "Voices from the Hellmouth" you can begin to get a handle on the amount of self-imposed pain and suffering that can result.

There's truly nothing more pathetic to me than the thought of a stupid nerd having vengeful thoughts about a smart football player. Intelligence is doled out in a bell curve, and just because you spend your nights throwing 16 sided dice and eating pork rinds does not mean you are a superior human being, nor does it give you an above-natural grasp over politics, law, or any other field other than THAC0 computation.

Overgeneralization (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328985)

I think this is more feeding the stereotype of the early 80's Revenge of the Nerds type. This ideal doesn't necessarily hold true today, at least it didn't where I went to school. People were unpopular for various reasons, such as they were obnoxious, rude, their personal hygiene was really bad (like never bathing or brushing their teeth) or some such other personality flaw. Not saying that there aren't unfair biases, such as ostracizing people because they don't wear the name brand cloths (which was phased out after middle school, like most stereotyped social judgments), but it doesn't hold as true today as in the past, or at least in my observations. The typical Chess Team, Computer club nerd getting stuffed in the locker didn't hold true, in my days of high school (early to mid 90's). With the exception of the gang bangers, most of the people I went to school with were pretty cool, and the "locker stuffing" asshole and the snob, nose up in the air, overly conceited bad teen movie knock off chicks were actually the minority, with only 1 or 2 individuals that I can even recall. And on most instances, I can remember a few guys trying to be "the bullies" and getting run off by the football players that everyone seems to like to point out as "the bullies". It might be different at other schools, after all, where else would really bad teen movies get their stereotypes from.

One reason they're so unpopular... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328987)

Is that they ramble on for pages and pages and pages on the topic of nerd popularity.

Sad but true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5328988)

I hate to say it, but after the 1990's I think some people have learned not to f-ck with certain nerds (lest they endure the bad health effects of an AK-47...).

Related Link? (1)

PygmyTrojan (605138) | more than 11 years ago | (#5328996)

Compare the best prices on: Books?

That's definitely the first thing I thought of after reading this story, "Man, where can I find the best prices on books?"

Misapprehension (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5329000)

You don't have to be smart to be a nerd, and you don't have to be a nerd if you're smart.

Good-looking people are popular. That's what hormones do. They make people think of sex, so they want to be around sexy people, making the sexy people popular. Then popularity becomes its own food, because popularity is also sexy. It becomes an O(log(n)) process, or thereabouts, where n is the number of people who want to be your friend. (So if you have no friends, you're infinitely unpopular.)

The problem with Nerds is they have no personality to make up for their physical unattractiveness, weakness, uncoordination, indifference to fashion, and faltering interaction. Teenagers just don't care much that smart is sexy, because it won't be sexy until it starts to make money; and its only benefit is that it makes the Principal like you, and being popular with the unpopular people is a negative trait among the popular.

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. But if you balled the homecoming queen before you became fat, at least you have hot regrets."

Competitiveness is the Key Point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5329002)

As a graduating senior this year and a nerd in almost every everything, the essay, (truthfully, I only read about 25%) was right on from my perspective. I'm almost only into intellectual parts of any subject matter, books, movies, heck I don't even like computer games all that much, but I'll download some C++ programming contest problem to see if I can solve. The thing is I'm too busy printing out the crossword puzzle for that morning to make sure I look cool enough. It's all about competition, just as the writer points out. The thing its such a devestating competition that turns kids against each other, creates so many lines. Not to sound like a marxist but there are definite parallels that can be drawn between the fight for success and that for popularity. Looking back on my entire high school experience (I'm senior sliding now) its hard to say what its all worth. There's pain both paths. I think it's hard to say nerds actually choose not to compete, just rather that they can't change who they are. They are going to pay much more attention to their homework and education than the lastest music thats out.
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