It used to be that the nerd bully was the one who picked on the nerds – for their owl-eye glasses, their pocket protectors, and their Spider-Man lunchbox. This was the stereotype that walked around in a letter jacket with a posse of brainless yes-men and cheerleader girlfriend, who tripped you in the cafeteria and flushed your head behind the gym teacher’s back.
Nowadays, this stereotype still walks the halls of William McKinley High your average teenage movie high school, but has been largely supplanted with a new sort of nerd bully.
Now it’s the nerds who do the bullying.
What was once a badge of shame is now the highest achievement left to unlock.
There has been a lot of talk lately (yes, even on GameSkinny!) about gender and the perception and criteria of what allows you to be worthy of the title of Geek, Nerd, or Gamer. When did the social outcast become the star of the show?
More to the point: when did that start becoming synonymous with being arrogant, elitist, and self-important?
“For a group of guys who claim they spent most of their lives being bullied, you can be real jerks.” — Penny, The Big Bang Theory
Maybe nerd is the new cool. But like the uber-jock stereotype nightmare of yore, ‘cool’ comes perfectly packaged in a whole new bundle of insecurities and the deep-seated need to place boundaries around their little world and proclaim what is and what isn’t… and more importantly, who is and who isn’t.
These are people who try way too hard to control and to overpower – often humiliating and belittling others just to make themselves feel good. This is the textbook definition of a bully, and it’s becoming linked with every filthy Internet cesspit that rises up and condescends against anything that threatens their subculture.
And you know why?
At heart, because they’re scared it’s no longer theirs. And they’ve been there too long, and loved it too hard to let it become someone else’s.
What makes you a real gamer?
What nebulous sense of achievement allows you access to that awe-inspiring title, gamer? What makes you count as one of us? Is it your Gamerscore? The number of games you play? The kind of games that you play? The possession of a Y chromosome?
The ‘Fake Gamer Girl’ accusation is a subset of this larger issue (and will probably be covered in a later, separate piece), but ignore the gender issues in the above Facebook screen capture – and you still recognize the argument. Gender does not change the fact that people in general are so quick to delineate who and what are allowed ‘to count’.
And so these people come up with post hoc generalities and excuses to justify their suspicions and their scorn. Oracle of Geek Goddess, an adult cosplay website, puts it best:
- You only like it now that it’s popular (Translation: You haven’t liked it for long enough, so you can’t possibly really like it… or me)
- You are just looking for attention (Translation: You are too pretty to really like it… or me).
- You haven’t spent enough time engrossed in the fandom (Translation: You’ve been out doing other things… like having fun with people… not me)
- You haven’t suffered like me (Translation: You are too “cool” or “mainstream” and must have belonged to the group that… teased me. )
Sometimes it just needs to be said – when you do this, and when you defend this kind of behavior, you’re not protecting your subculture… you’re poisoning it.
The way you choose to live your life should not be impacted by whether or not others who possess inferior gear or who clock fewer hours than you in DOTA 2 identify the same way. They’re not going to steal your lunch money anymore. They’re just going to play Farmville and like it.
Is that so bad?