let’s get definitive

A few months ago there was this graph about the evolution of the geek. And while it’s generally amusing, my major contention is their ubiquitous use of the word geek. It’s not uncommon. Geek, nerd and dork are pretty much interchangeably used these days, in part because they often cross paths. But to someone to whom words matter each word has a unique connotation and should be used appropriately.

These are my definitions:

Geek – Despite my own ubiquitous use of the word geek, I think this word really has a pop culture focus. A geek is both pop culturally awkward, because they watch the sci-fi/fantasy shows no one else is watching, and pop culturally savvy because they’re likely to watch considerably more than the average viewer. And study the things they watch (by reading interviews and watching behind the scenes features and watching different shows just because actors from projects they love are in them and dissect those projects and talk about them with other geeks). The level of obsession defines the depth of the geekdom and can vary from project to project.

Nerd – more academic in nature, this refers to someone who’s smart, studious, possessing factual knowledge of history or science or math or even psychology. The level of nerdiness is based on a scale of depth of knowledge and how esoteric their field is. When that esoteric field is warp field theory from ST:TNG, you’re a geeky nerd.

Dork – the socially awkward. It doesn’t matter what a dork knows or what they love, they’re just kind of goofy, probably saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and possibly falling over their own feet. But they can also be adorable when they’re sweet and sincere in the midst of their bumbling.

Comic Con is the haven for everyone because you’re allowed to act like a geek, talk like a nerd and look like a dork without fear of recrimination or disdain. It’s the best place to have fun with who you are.

March 8, 2011 | Commentary | this post contains affiliate links

6 responses to “let’s get definitive

    • aj

      you are a nerdy geek 🙂 But I thought it would get too complicated if I offered the reverse of all of them.

  1. Wyndie

    I think I’m just bookish. which might just be nerd.
    I hesitate to use geek, it’s become geek-chic. If it’s too hipster trendy.. shouldn’t be classified as geek anymore. And I totally hate to say it, and maybe I shouldn’t. But Comic Con has kinda strayed this way. but what do I know.

    • aj

      no, I agree – anything hipster trendy should not be classified as geek. I think the idea of Comic Con has become hipster trendy in Hollywood, in part because I think hipster writers have started to go for their shows and things. But when you’re actually there, there’s nothing hipster about it. It’s still a good old geek/dork/nerd fest.
      and you are bookish which I think is awesome 🙂