Why does society hate geeks nerds

Nerds, Nerdettes # 1 A Conceptual Invasion?

Is the Nerd a social figure who is interesting enough to use to open a series of blog posts on SozBlog? I guess so. In the beautiful book “Sozialfiguren der Gegenwart” by Stephan Moebius and Markus Schroer (2010), advisors, hackers, gunmen, dillettants and citizens / cosmopolitans cavort among others. Angry citizens and nerd are still missing. The term Nerd has been around since the 1950s. It originally comes from a children's book. From the 1980s onwards, it was also used to label hackers and other computer savvy men. In the 1990s, the nerd appeared more and more in American comedy series - I am thinking of Steve Urkel, for example Family Matters.

The socially incompetent and unattractive nerd is always the epitome of the victim in the high school hierarchy. In the sense of a "marginalized masculinity" (Raewyn Connell) - a representation that cannot meet the social expectations of a 'real guy' and earns contempt for it - the nerd lives his life here at the end of the food chain, is beaten by the boys , bullied or at best pityed by the girls. So the dominant narrative. Decades later, some nerds become so prominent and (successful) rich that their marginalization is canceled out. Kai van Eikels therefore reflected on last Sunday in a contribution to the Doing Nerd symposium to what extent the nerd's ambition is driven by possible revenge for his early insults (van Eikels 2013).

In any case, there is some evidence that the figure of the nerd has started a triumphant advance. In addition to the already described ostracism of the nerd as an abnormal, more positive narratives now also play a role, the praise of the nerd and the reinterpretation of the negative term. Nicole C. Karafyllis writes in the glossary of inflationary terms: “So when someone is nerdy, they are kind of difficult and weird - but in a certain way. The American sitcom The Big Bang Theory bring this nerdy-Being performative for viewing since 2007. "(Karaffylis 2013, p. 99) While Steve Urkel in Family Matters relies on a magic machine that turns the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan (or a 'cool guy') to open the heart of the previously dismissive Laura, the nerds in the Big Bang Theory get along better.

Through the pirate party as the so-called 'party of nerds' - the figure also plays an increasingly important role in the mass media public of print, TV and radio. Although not all pirates describe themselves as nerds and not all nerds and nerdettes are close to the pirate party: Nerdiness plays a major role in the young party's descriptions of themselves and others. In the biographical descriptions of the members, the term experiences a defensive appropriation, is used positively and becomes a source of solidarity with other nerds. Also is 'The nerd'no longer exclusively male. Women also describe themselves as nerd, nerdette or nerdine.

In critical descriptions of the pirates, on the other hand, the derogatory image of a sexually inhibited, male underperformer who with his pirate hat endangers serious politics and whose fear of 'real women' justifies the rejection of quotas (cf.Siri / Villa 2012, cf. also post # 3: provocation and ostracism of the nerd).

Nerdy people are kind of difficult and weird and in a certain way - writes Karafyllis. The proximity to the concept of queerness is obvious. It could therefore be worthwhile to take a closer look at the nerd / nerdette as a social figure, as a polarizing social address that attracts positive and negative comments.

Does the invasion of the nerds, the appropriation of nerdiness by the adapted and fully capitalized hipster (Greif 2012), rob the figure of the nerd of its political identity? Does the normalized 'nerdiness for everyone' work in hipsterism? Does this mean that hackers have to distance themselves from the nerds? Or does nerdiness have a subversive potential that could prove itself, for example, in the deconstruction of gender norms (in the sense of Judith Butler)? And could it be that the defense against the pirate party has more to do with their nerdiness than with factual politics and program? Is it the fear of the “revenge of the nerds” diagnosed by van Eikels that drives the allergic reactions of some established politicians and media workers against the pirates, and also against emphatic internet politics in general? I will write about this in the next blog post.


Blog recommendation: Kai van Eikels blogs here about art, theater, collectivity and much more. And here is the contribution to the revenge of the nerds that I am referring to! (added on 6.5.13, 5:36 pm)


Judith Butler (2009). The power of gender norms and the limits of the human. Trans. V. Karin Wördemann & Martin Stempfhuber. Berlin: Suhrkamp.

Raewyn Connell (2006). The made man. Construction and crisis of masculinity. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Kai van Eikels (2013). The revenge of the nerds? Lecture at the symposium "Doing Nerd" of the New Society for Fine Arts and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Berlin on April 28, 2013.

Mark Greif (2012) (ed.). Hipster. A transatlantic discussion. Berlin: Suhrkamp.

Nicole C. Karafyllis (2013). nerdy. In: Glossary of Inflationary Terms. Book accompanying the exhibition THE IRREGULAREN - ECONOMIES OF DEVIATION. Edited by Anna Bromley et al. Berlin: NGBK.

Stephan Moebius and Markus Schroer (2010) (eds.). Divas, hackers, speculators. Social figures of the present. Berlin: Suhrkamp.

Jasmin Siri & Paula-Irene Villa (2012). Pirates. No gender? In: Christoph Bieber & Claus Leggewie (eds.) Under pirates. Explorations in a political arena. Bielefeld: transcript.

Note: There will be a sound cloud on which not only the contribution of van Eikels ‘on the" revenge of the nerds "can be listened to, but the entire conference, including lectures by Nicole Karafyllis, Michael Makropoulus, Shintaro Miyazaki and Jörg Ossenkopp. The link will follow soon.

Author Jasmin SiriPosted on Keywords Gender, Hipster, Medien, Nerd, Nerdette