Saturday, February 11, 2012


When did it become so cool to be nerdy?

Dave and I are fans of the TV show "The Big Bang Theory." In case you don't know it -- although I'm not sure that's really possible -- the show is about four twentysomething physics researchers and their social and romantic exploits (or lack thereof). It's hilarious, smartly written and employs a lot of humor about science and math.

It got me thinking about studious, smart kids, and wondering whether their lot in life has improved since I was a student in the '70s and '80s. When I was in elementary and high school, it was not cool to be smart. In fact, intelligence and studious habits were cause for ridicule and condemnation. (I've written about this before.)

I grew up in an an outer suburb that was still largely rural and agricultural. Maybe the anti-academic attitudes that I perceived in many of my classmates came from that environment. I did have some geeky friends who I bonded with, but we formed our own little group of social outliers.

I have always believed that one of the reasons I didn't excel in school -- I was an average student -- was the social pressure not to excel. Although I had geeky friends, I wanted to be more widely accepted socially, and I tried not to stand out. What if I hadn't perceived that social pressure? What if I'd let my geek flag fly?

I think kids now have more freedom to do so, thanks to shows like "The Big Bang Theory" that make heroes of geeks. Is there a greater understanding these days that cool detachment is artificial and deadening -- that to engage with life you have to invest in something? That knowledge is empowering?

I dunno. I spend very little time around teenagers, but Dave seems to encounter many kids who are highly attuned to academics and learning -- at the very least, the need to score and perform well. I think braininess is more accepted these days.

(Photo: Shoreditch, last week.)


  1. I think it wasn't the era but the situation. Contemporaries of mine who were raised to be smart were thought to be cool. Sad, hey?

    Love the happiness quote!

  2. Our "in" group had a nice mix of brains, jocks, cheerleaders & class clowns. I wasn't in it though :)

  3. I am late to the party. Been MIA lately. :/ Parent conferences will suck the life out of you.

    When I was younger it wasn't cool to be nerdy and I certainly didn't go around trying to be nerdy. I was good at hiding it too. (I'm good at hiding lots of things.) However, as an adult I have realized I am kind of a nerd and I like it.

    I do distinctly remember that in high school some of the more popular kids who had money and did party (drugs) were the smart kids. I always thought that was ironic. Anyway I am glad it's popular now to be nerdy or geeky. I find it cute, adorable, sexy at times but over just nice to see it around.

    Ms. M