Nerds have come a long way. They began as the basement dwelling dungeon masters of the 70’s, became the video game programmers of the 80’s and then hit mainstream awareness as the music pirates of the early 2000’s. Now it’s 2014 and nerd culture has reached an all new high in terms of mainstream acceptance. Professional Youtubers and Twitch streamers are the new internet celebrities. They watch over flocks of thousands of fans who are bound up in the community and ‘kumbaya’, ‘let’s all hold hands and enjoy nerdy things’ atmosphere that permeates new nerd culture. Famous nerd celebrities, like Will Wheaton, have found new cultural significance within the realm of new-nerdom, as more than just Star Trek fans know of their existence through a combination of clever marketing and the geek chic movement. Being a geek is cool now and everyone wants to get in on the fun. We no longer need to worry about being shunned by our family or friends for liking trading card games or dungeons and dragons, so why is it that I’m getting more and more fed up with nerds and nerd culture?
My first thought was that I was just a jerk and disliked change, which isn’t too far fetched, considering my history of not liking new things, but I don’t think this is entirely the case. The conclusion I’ve come to is that I dislike the new wave of nerd culture and the geek chic movement because, while becoming more mainstream means that nerds can be themselves, it also means that corporations and entrepreneurs suddenly think that the nerd community is worth taking advantage of. Do you like gaming and cosplay? Good. Buy our shirts, pins, hats and mugs. Subscribe to our youtube and twitch and come to our trade-shows and conventions. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Drink the cool-aid.
I understand that all nerds want is to feel accepted, and this new wave of nerd culture is like an all-you-can-not-feel-like-a-loser buffet, but I’m not okay with every nerd event being sponsored by Mountain Dew or hundreds of thousands of people lining up to watch two 40 year old D tier celebrities play a card game. If you’re a gaming journalist, you’re confined to writing about the top ten sexiest cosplayers, so as to appeal to the droves of sexually frustrated basement dwellers, or the latest garbage video game to movie adaptation that will inevitably bomb, instead of writing about games. Just like any mainstream news outlet, gaming journalism cares more about controversy and celebrity than about the hobbies and games that tie the nerd community together. As long as you continually promise a comfortable environment in which a nerd feels that they belong, you’re going to find success in the new geek culture.
I’d prefer a world in which nerds are shunned, the same world that brought about the nerd community out of that very necessity, to a world in which nerds and nerdom is celebrated as long as each nerd attends every convention sponsored by Gillette razors, to see a panel hosted by Doritos, that shows off a new line of gaming accessories that are sponsored by Mountain Dew. I’d rather have to play dungeons & dragons in secret than be taken advantage of on a large scale. It doesn’t help that a majority of the nerd community is perfectly fine with going along for the ride either. The degree to which the current nerd community borders on self-parody is growing every day. While shows like The Big Bang Theory are meant to dramatize and exaggerate nerd culture, the nerd community seems determined to match it in both ridiculousness and social ineptitude.