Character Portraits: Geeks and Nerds

The Geek; studious, learned, socially inept, interesting dress sense, or is that the list for Nerds?

In literary terms, I think these two groups are usually classed as one.  However there are subtle differences between the two, which I shall go into later.  First, I’d like to discuss their similar traits.

As we all know, Geeks and Nerds are studious to some degree.  Whether it consists of traditional techniques (such as reading or performing experiments), or more modern ways of learning such as the internet (a lot can be learned from google and YouTube), these groups love to take part in these activities.

An interesting dress sense is also a must as well.  Shirts and trousers (pants to my American friends) are perhaps more common among Nerds than Geeks who seem to favour jeans and t-shirts sporting their favourite pastime.

Because of their obsession with their chosen subject, they are likely to be socially inept.  A classic case in point is Professor Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ (which I hope to review very soon).  Graeme Simsion has even gone as far as giving Don Asperger Syndrome.  Doing this, as well as writing it from Don’s perspective, has added an interesting addition to the equation.

And now we shall move onto the differences.

The definition of a Geek is “someone who is interested in a subject (usually intellectual or complex) for its own sake”.  Whereas the definition of Nerd is “an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a non-social hobby or pursuit”.

On reading those definitions, it seems to me that it is a Nerd who is more likely to have trouble in social situations.  A geek on the other hand, while they love their favourite topic, do not pursue it to such a degree as Nerds. If you could enlighten me on the this I would be willing to hear your argument.

Why do we have them?

Like all characters, Geeks and Nerds have their origins in real life.  The titles, Geek and Nerd, first came to the public consciousness around the same time; the 1970s.*

In recent years, Geeks and Nerds have shaken off their negative connotations.  So much so that we have even had the rise of the Geek.  Again ‘The Rosie Project’ is a perfect example.  I doubt this book would have been published thirty years ago.  If it had, it certainly would not have been as successful.

*By that I mean their current definition.