Nerd or Geek?

So, to my wedding readers.. a slight apology here. This post isn’t wedding or cake related in even the slightest manner. Deal with it, though – it’s my blog, I can veer waaay off course if I want to! ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway. Lately, the subject of nerd vs geek has come up often. Often, it’s because I get called a geek, and have to gently correct people – I’m not, in fact, a geek. I’m an out-and-proud nerd! That of course raises the question: “What’s the difference?”. Well, there’s a huge difference. Actually, there’s also a huge difference in what is considered the difference, but I’d like to lay out my views on the whole issue.

Nerds are “Literal”. Geeks are more “Fantastical”. I think that sums it up nicely. To elaborate, however..

A nerd is someone who is into information, learning. Curious about the world around them, in a literal sense. We don’t really care too much about Sci Fi (although it can be a fun diversion to watch a movie or whatever), and when we read, it’s usually non fiction. More on this later.

A geek is someone who is into.. well, geekdom. Media. Gadgets. They’re the ones who REALLY get into certain movies / comic books / etc. Someone that can quote entire series, recall a certain issue of a comic, whatever.

Is one “better” than the other? No. Did one “spawn” the other? While nerds were definitely here a long time before geeks… no. I think they’re completely different species! Actually, that’s not completely accurate, as I do believe that there are nerd-geek crossovers. Maybe we’ll refer to these people as “Mules”. Well.. except that nerd-geek crossovers aren’t necessarily infertile. Hrm. Maybe a bad label. Whatever, I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes. Further elaboration!

Nerds have been around *forever*. We get to claim people like Pasteur, Van Leeuwenhoek (my two personal favs), Edison, Galileo, etc. Every old school, bad ass scientist? They’re ours.

Geeks are a fairly new group. I’m guessing they really got their start with the original Star Trek series, but I could be wrong. You see, my status as a nerd kinda inhibits my knowledge of the matter! ๐Ÿ™‚

When it comes to media, nerds and geeks really verge off in different directions.

Geeks are the ones that are into sci fi and fantasy. As I mentioned earlier, “The Fantastical”. They’re the ones into Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, and/or anything Joss Whedon’s done, etc. They’re into video and computer games, RPG, and the more fantastical board games.

Nerds… we’ll watch movies, of course. We’ll even be entertained by some of the above mentioned ones. We’re just not THAT into it. We may be more into things like CSI (though we do tend to cringe and mock the horrible “science” involved!), or more realistic shows. We’re far more likely to be reading, and when we read, it’s usually non fiction. When we play board games, we definitely prefer general trivia, or straight-out strategy or thinking games. (Risk). Spare us the trolls and wizards, please!

Growing up, I preferred volunteering in my grade school’s library at lunches and recess, to doing anything social. Even though the books were kinda stupid and way below my reading level at the time (sorry!), I loved it. I loved sorting, I loved the Dewey decimal system.. loved it. Spent my summers at the big public library, reading microbiology textbooks. I knew more about microbiology at age 12 than most university students. Loved it!

As an adult, I’m a learning/linguistics/logistics/culture/science/experimentation nerd. You know why I have so many cake flavors? Because NOT developing new ones is stagnant and boring! I’m always having ideas that need to be tested. This is a huge reason for my upcoming cookbooks – gives me a good outlet for learning, experimenting. It’s cathartic. I need it.

I don’t read fiction at all anymore – mostly because I don’t have time. When I DO read fiction, it’s either a mystery or biology/microbiology related thriller (Love Robin Cook!). I don’t do fairies, spells, trolls, aliens, etc. If I play a computer game, it’s Mah Jongg (although I need to stay away from it, I can easily lose entire days to it. Is there a 12 step program for Mah Jongg?)


The thing is, it’s become “cool” to be a geek – while geek used to be a derogatory term, the geeks have really managed to reclaim it. Kudos to them! There are geeks *everywhere* – Almost everyone I know / consider to be a friend is a geek! My husband is a geek with nerd tendencies, even. I love hanging with geeks, because not only are they fun – I’m always learning something new from them! Where nerds can be more generic, a lot of geeks are almost like .. specialists. If I need a movie recommendation, I know which geek friend to contact (Melissa!). When I needed any info on anything Star Trek related (for our Klingon Cake adventures) – wow, did I EVER have a stable of knowledge to turn to! Music, a new game, whatever. Very specialized pockets of knowledge! Awesome.

“Nerd” is still seen as a derogatory thing, and I think a lot of people tend to be closeted nerds. You just don’t see the proud declarations of nerditude that you do from the geek crowd. (How many people on Twitter declare themselves a nerd on their profile? Not nearly as many as geeks!). Are we more rare? Is it a shame issue? Is it a not-caring thing? Is it because the terms are popularly used as interchangeable for some bizarre reason? I have no idea.

I just know that there is a big difference.. and I’m squarely on the “nerd” side of the fence! Nerd Pride!

4 thoughts on “Nerd or Geek?

  1. Very good post. I actually feel the same way, and have frequently debating what the definitions of being a “geek” or “nerd” or “dork” are as well. Not surprisingly, our ideas of them are the same. Carr is a nerd that is currently reading and occasionally slipping back into yet another game of Mah Jongg (for real, she is doing that as we speak), while I am oogling new electronic gadgets while reading up on their respective reviews.


  2. I stumbled across your blog during one of my depth-first search internet excursions and this post interested me. I consider myself a nerd, and most who know me would probably agree…
    -I do love computer/console games. I fully realize you mentioned your limited scope of gaming with “I” and did not generalize the “nerd” community but keep in mind many nerds love games.
    -I actually hate general trivia. Too often it is all “popular” knowledge that I fail at. Trivia oriented towards math/science is a different story…

    p.s. Send me an email if you would like to get to know another who considers themselves a nerd. I’m sure you can pull my private email from your website database ๐Ÿ™‚

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